William Stafford
Lesson plans and teaching resources

| Biography and Background | | Collections of Poems | | Lesson Plans for Specific Poems |

Biography and Background

William Stafford
Biography and links to a few poems,including an audio file of Stafford reading "With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach."

William Stafford
Biography and bibliography at Wikipedia.

Collections of Poems

William Stafford
Links to 39 poems.

William Stafford Archive
Browse 118 poems; see first drafts in Stafford's handwriting, revisions, and published versions.

William Stafford
Follow links to biography, critical commentary, and text and/or audiofile of more than 100 poems, including "At the Un-national Monument along the Canadian Border" (read by Stafford).

Lesson Plans for Specific Poems


Text of the poem. Click on "Listen" at the top to hear Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, which ends with a reading of the poem.

Quoting from a Poem
Examples of how students should quote from a poem using Stafford's "Fifteen." Students practice using Sylvia Plath's "Mirror."

"Traveling Through the Dark"

This lesson uses "Travling Through the Dark" to explore connotation.

On "Traveling Through the Dark"
Critical commentary.

"Traveling Through the Dark"
A copy of Stafford's first draft, revisions, final copy with Stafford's commentary, and a video of Stafford discussing the poem.

Other Poems

"Animal Poetry"
Students explore multiple concepts, including reading poetry aloud, sound techniques like alliteration and rhyme, metaphor, and description. The lessons use "At the Salt Marsh," "Fish Counter at Bonneville," "In the Deep Channel," and "Ceremony." Copies of the poems are not included in the lesson plan. These cross-curricular lessons are designed for grades 3-5.

"The Farm on the Great Plain"
Downloadable audio file of Stafford reading (1:34); click on the link for the text of the poem.

"How to Regain Your Soul"
Text of the poem.

"Old Blue"
Text of the poem. Click on "Listen" to hear it read.

Poetry and Home and Student Handout
This lesson uses "Vocation" and includes a copy of the poem. Students explore point of view, imagery, endings, and what it means to be part of a family. It is designed for elementary students.

Reading William Stafford with Very Young Students
A teacher reflects on selections that have worked well with first- and second-graders, including "At the Playground," "Coyote," and "Roll Call." Copies of the poems are not available at this site.

William Stafford in the Environmental Science Classroom
Students explore the environmental aspects of these poems: "The Well Rising," "The Fish Counter at Bonneville," "The Tillamook Burn," "At the Bomb Testing Site," and "Ceremony." Copies of the poems are included. This lesson is designed for high school.

Writing Down my Family: using oral histories as research for autobiographical poems
This unit plan incorporates the following poems: "Parentage," "Some Shadows, " "Listening, " "A Memorial: Son Bret, " "Remembering Brother Bob, " "Elegy," and "Troubleshooting." Designed for high school, this plan does not include copies of the poems.