William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow" is a cool little poem to visually brainstorm with a visible thinking activity like sketchnoting. What's even cooler is to get a whole class engaged in putting together their own sketchnotes on the same poem and then taking a look at the final results, either with an installation that's spread across the classroom bulletin boards, a repository of the scanned doodles saved as a Google doc, or the completed sketchnotes tweeted out for all to see.
Williams was influenced by so many different developments that were happening not just in American poetry but throughout the visual and performing arts. Looking at what he, Stevens, cummings, H.D., and Stein were doing in those first three decades of the 20th-century shows just how impactful someone like Pablo Picasso was on the development of their writing.
One has no idea what someone like William Carlos Williams would have thought about visual brainstorming, visible thinking, or sketchnotes, but something tells me that he and others like him would have been rather fond of the practice!
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Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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