Book Teachers Love: April's This is Just to Say

As many of you know, April is National Poetry Month. So naturally, I had to share a poem anthology for this month's Books Teachers Love post!

This anthology was recommended through my writing curriculum and I fell in LOVE! To launch our poetry writing unit, we read the poem that inspired Joyce Sidman to create these poems. Joyce included this original poem written by William Carlos William titled, "This is Just to Say."

How We Use It As A Mentor Text

"This is Just to Say" is was an apology poem that we used as a mentor text (2). We analyzed what Williams did to create his poem- what craft moves he included (short line breaks, eliminated unnecessary words, repetition, word choice, wrote about a realistic topic) and what moves he did not include (no rhyming scheme). We noticed grammar moves as well- what was capitalized, what wasn't, what punctuation was used and where. Then we read the second poem in the anthology (3). We compared how this poem written by Joyce was similar to Williams' original. Some lines started the same, some parts were added. We also used this book to talk about perspectives, as the first half the book were all apology poems, while the second half was the responses (1). We read two poems about playing dodgeball (4) and noticed mood and the use of line breaks. This book packs a great punch for lots of poetic moves that we want our students to implement when writing poetry.

What Can You Do With It

I should mention that there was one poem in the response section that may not be appropriate to share (as it says the word "pissed" in it... that was definitely a bummer). Because of this, I kept the book and used it as a read aloud so that I was able to pick and choose which poems to share. Be thoughtful if you put it in your classroom library for students to have all access to it if you are worried about this.

We used this book as inspiration to write some of our own apology poems. There is such a variety that all students were able to write at least one and implement multiple craft moves mentioned above. Mentor text are so valuable in this way! We created our own class anthology all about apology poems. I had it bound and ready to share at conferences. Parents LOVED it! It's funny that when your child apologizes about a mistake (like eating your Twix candy bar) in poem form, they laugh at it and find it so cute. 

Take a look at a few of the poems they created. They made a simple brainstorming page to help them think of ideas. They wrote down who they had to apologize to and what for. They then used our mentor text examples to help them craft their own apology poem.

Topics ranged from taking earrings for an outfit, hiding the remote to save $ on internet and cable, eating a candy bar that didn't belong to them, not petting their dog enough, and scooting away from a friend with peanut butter breath. Others that aren't here included saying sorry to a friend who moved away and telling them they've been replaced, saying sorry to a sibling for fighting with them, and apologizing to a parent for waking them up early. I LOVED reading each and every one of them! It was a simple, low-production project that really made a lasting impact on many of them.

Want your chance to win a copy of this book and try it with your students? You can enter below to pick your choice of 4 books featured in this month's giveaway! Scroll down to see the author awesome books to support learning in your classroom this April!

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