The River

poem by Lisa Varchol Perron , illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Learning intentions: 

I am learning to understand the language choices and styles of other poets so that I can experiment with these in my own compositions. 

 

Success criteria: 

  • I can identify and discuss language and stylistic choices made by a poet. 
  • I can use an existing poem and illustration to inspire my own ideas. 
  • I can apply aspects of another poet’s style to my own writing. 

 

Essential knowledge: 

For more information on identifying the style of an author, watch the English Textual Concepts video for Style 

Read the text aloud or, if you have a digital subscription, you may wish to play the audio version. Ask students to identify and explain the descriptive language the author has used to convey the feeling of cold winter in the poem. These should include: 

  • …breath makes mist in frosty air (something that occurs in cold temperatures) 
  • …branches shiver, sharp and bare (trees lose their leaves in winter and branches can become more brittle) 
  • …snowflakes shimmer everywhere (indicates recent snowfall) 
  • Nestles in a snowy mound (suggests it is still too cold for snow to melt) 
  • A cloak of darkness, thick and full (nights are often darker in winter) 

Draw students’ attention to the repetition of the last line of each stanza and discuss their interpretations on why the author has chosen to do this in their poem (e.g. perhaps to highlight that the river continues to flow at all times regardless of what is going on around it). Ask for their thoughts on the effect this has on the audience. 

Have students study the illustration and imagine how this scene would look different in summer. Discuss their thoughts, which may include: 

  • Green grass would be in the ground instead of white snow 
  • Tree trunks would be a stronger brown as they would not be covered in frost 
  • Trees would be covered in leaves 
  • The river would be more blue and vibrant due to clearer and warmer skies 

 

Assessment for/as learning: 

Using their ideas, students should write a poem about the river in summer in the style of the text. This should include the same rhyme scheme (AAAB) and the repetition of the last line, and contain a minimum of two stanzas. Use the success criteria for the lesson as a self-assessment tool for example: 

 

I achieved this goal independently. What is my next step? How can I extend myself?  There were times in the lesson where I acted independently and times where I leaned on my peers and teacher for further guidance. What is my next step?  I relied on my teacher and peers for guidance for most of the lesson. I might need to ask my teacher for another opportunity to work with this content.  
I was able to join in classroom discussion that focused on identifying and discussing language and stylistic choices made by a poet.   

 

 

I was able to use an existing poem and illustration to inspire my own ideas.   

 

 

I can apply aspects of another poet’s style to my own writing. Using the AAAB scheme.