In this unit, students are introduced to biographies with the text A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, by Jen Bryant. Students read this narrative nonfiction text closely to build understanding about how William Carlos Williams became inspired to write poetry. Students then closely read portions of the text to gather additional information about Williams’ life. Next, students closely read biographies about the poet they selected to study for part of the performance task. Students are also introduced to biographical timelines and use these as an additional source of information about their poet’s life. For the mid-unit assessment, students will read a biography of another poet, answering text-dependent questions to demonstrate their progress toward standards RI.4.1, RI.4.2, and RI.4.3.
In the second half of this unit, students prepare for the performance task for this module, the Poet’s Performance. In this three-part performance task, students focus on a single poet, presenting a poem by that poet, writing a short essay about the poet, and reading aloud an original poem inspired by their poet. The class learns to write an essay by planning and writing a shared essay about poet William Carlos Williams. Then students plan for their essays using notes gathered from the first half of the unit, and complete a draft of the essay for the first part of the end of unit assessment (RI.4.9 and W.4.2). Next, students engage in a round of critique and feedback to improve their work and complete a revised draft for the second part of the end of unit assessment (W.4.5). Finally, students read aloud their poems and essay for the Poet’s Performance.