Many of the picture books I share with my students seem to find their way back to the classroom as writing lessons. The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown has an easy-to-use pattern that is ready to be crafted for student learning and reflecting.
I start by reading the original copy of the book to the whole class. As I go through the pages, students begin to notice the repetition in how the book starts each page, “The important thing about _________ is __________.” and how the book ends each page, “But the important thing about __________ is ___________.”
We have a discussion about the word important. I ask students, "What does important mean?" I jot down their answers on chart paper for everyone to see. The visual, "What is important?" becomes an excellent reference point when students are drafting their own poems. It is used as a tool to remind them of focusing on what is important when they are thinking of key points to share in their own writing.
Our next step is to draft an important poem together as a class. We pick a topic that everyone can relate to: school, food, playground, etc. The whole class poem is also posted on chart paper again to leave a visual example for students to refer back to.
The next step is to have students create poems on their own. I give students a template to follow as an option. Some students like to get creative and formulate their own rendition of an important poem. I like to have the template available for those who need more structure.
At the end of the year, my students use the “Important” format to generate a reflection piece. Students write “The Important Thing About Fourth Grade” poems outlining what they found to be meaningful throughout the school year. Here are a couple of other ways I have incorporated this book into my classroom:
End of a Unit Review: Have students share what they have learned about a unit of study using the important poem format. Here is an example from a student in my class who was writing a poem on the Gold Rush.
Class Book Project: We recently used important poems for our body systems unit. I divided students into different body systems (respiratory, muscular, digestive, etc.). Each system group had to research and explore what were the important elements of their system. As a group, they wrote an important poem that would then be shared out loud with the whole class. Once all of the body system poems were shared, we were able to bind them together and create a class body system book.
Getting to Know You Activity: Save this one for next year! I’ve done this activity two ways. The first way is to have individual students create an important poem about who they are. Students will then share their poems with the class. Poems can be written nicely or typed and displayed for all to see.
Partner Activity: Here's another one for the beginning of school. I partnered my students up and asked them to interview each other with getting-to-know-you questions (What’s your name? Favorite color? Favorite food? What do you do for fun?). Partners take turns playing the interviewer and the responder. Students then take what they have learned in their interview and create an important poem about their partner. Partners will then share aloud what they came up with for the person they just learned so much about.
The Important Book is a simply-crafted work of art that takes one example of repetition to so many wonderful places. The book and the format are fun and enjoyable for students of all ages.
Have you used this book as a lesson for students in your classroom? I’d love to hear how!
Thank you for reading!