Seasonal Haiku: Writing Poems to Celebrate Any Season
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In this three-part lesson, students write and illustrate haiku depicting seasonal images. First they use their observation skills, real-world knowledge, and knowledge of parts of speech to help them create seasonal word charts. They then listen to and read samples of haiku to identify haiku criteria, followed by a writing session where they create haiku that depict seasonal images. Finally, they publish their poetry in one of three methods. They can mount their haikus on colorful backgrounds that illustrate the images in their poems. If tablets are available, the Haiku Poem App can be used to publish their poetry. If computers are available, students can use the Haiku Poem Interactive.
- Haiku Poem App: Students can use this app to create their haikus and illustrate with images.
- Haiku Poem Interactive: Students can use this student interactive to create their and illustrate with images.
From Theory to Practice
Haiku usually depict an image from nature rather than an action and facilitate the reader's reflection on nature. Traditionally, they follow a three line, 5-7-5 syllable format, although that restriction has been altered in recent years.(Cheney, 79) Today, one may find haiku that are only one line, or in which the syllable pattern has been shortened or lengthened. For this lesson, using syllabication is an objective, so adhering to the 5-7-5 pattern is necessary.
This lesson inherently involves restrictions of convention that could hinder some students' creative use of descriptive language. For that reason, it may be best to introduce haiku-writing to students after they have had other experiences in using creative, sensory language in various ways.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
Materials and Technology
If publishing using paper:
Blank white or parchment paper (8x11)
Fine-tipped black markers
Construction paper (9x12 plus assorted colors in smaller pieces) or other desired art materials for illustrations
If publishing using tablets:
Tablets with the Haiku Poem App installed
Computer with LCD projector
Adaptor to connect tablets to the computer
Optional printer to print haikus from the app
If publishing using computers:
Computers with Internet access to access the Haiku Interactive Tool
Computer with LCD projector
Optional printer to print haikus
A book of haiku for reading aloud:
The Essential Haiku by Robert Hass (The Echo Press, 1994)
The Haiku Anthology by Cor Van Den Heuvel (Touchstone, 1986)
- Other possible books are listed on the printout Suggested Books for Haikus
Select several haiku to read aloud. Make sure the poems that you choose use the 5-7-5 pattern.
Transcribe two or three onto chart paper for student reference and syllabication review.
If you're completing the variation, test the Fridge Magnets interactive on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page. Alternately, use the ReadWriteThink interactive Word Mover.
If you are using tablets, install the Haiku Poem App and familiarize yourself with the app.
If you are using the Haiku Student Interactive, check that it will work on the computers the students will use. You can get help at the technical support page. Familiarize yourself with the student interactive.
- identify subject matter and format criteria of traditional haiku.
- use traditional criteria to write haiku.
- use descriptive words to create visual images in writing.
- use visual art to interpret their own written images.
- Arrange students into three heterogeneous groups, with reading, writing, and speaking ability balanced among the groups. Each group will need table space. Tell students that each group will create a word chart. Give each group one piece of chart paper and two markers.
- Ask one group of students to think about the current season, and write a list of words or phrases that depict things (nouns) that are indicative of it. For example, during winter, responses might include snow, ice, thunder, bare tree branches, and pine trees. During spring, responses might include flowers, buds, new leaves, and ducklings.
- Ask another group of students to chart words that will describe the season (adjectives). For example, during summer, responses might include hot, boiling, sizzling, and bright. During autumn, responses might include crunchy, brown, and dying.
- The third group will write words that are actions for the season (verbs). Examples might be swim for summer, skate for winter, bloom for spring, or fall for autumn.
- Give students time to generate as many words as they can on one piece of chart paper. When the three word charts are complete, post them so that all students can review all charts and give input. Some words may be added to (or deleted from) each chart as students discover that they are categorized by parts of speech.
- Tell students that the next day, they will use the word charts in a poetry-writing activity.
- Read aloud two or three haiku, one at a time, with time for student reaction after each one. Ask students to respond with their feelings or impressions about what they hear.
- Post the previously transcribed haiku where all students can see them. Have students observe and read the poems to themselves; then, ask if anyone has noticed anything similar about all three poems. Point out in the poems any observations that are mentioned. When students have finished responding, choose one of the poems and have students read it aloud together. Then read the poem one line at a time, having students count the syllables in each line. Write the number of syllables in the margin next to each line.
- Move to the second poem and repeat the process of counting syllables. Ask students to make an observation about the line and syllable pattern of the poems.
- Make a reference chart for haiku for students to use as they write. Ask students questions about the poems to help them identify the criteria for the poems. Some examples might be
- Do you see any similarities about these poems?
- What kinds of things do they make you think about?
- What kinds of things are happening?
- Do you see any similarities about these poems?
- Students will work independently to write their own haiku, using words from the charts to help them generate ideas. Make sure that students understand that the word lists are for reference and ideas; encourage them to use their own words if they think of something that is not on the charts.
- Circulate among students to answer and ask questions, and have students check their syllable patterns. As students write particularly interesting phrases, share them with the class to help those who are having difficulty with ideas.
- If students will be publishing using the paper method, have them rewrite them in the center of 8x11 white or parchment paper. Remind them that they are publishing, so they need to be using their best printing. Have students trace over their pencil writing with a fine-tipped black marker and save their work for the illustration activity.
- If students are using computers or tablets, model which software they will be using. Show students where to save their images for the backgrounds of their haikus. Then allow time for students to work. Circulate around the room to help those who have problems with the software.
Hand out the Haiku Evaluation Rubric. Together evaluate one of the haikus you read during session one.
If using the paper method to publish:
Students will mount their final copy of their haiku in the center of 9x12 construction paper, then use torn paper designs to illustrate the feeling or image of the poem. Have available for students a selection of 9x12 sheets of construction paper for backgrounds, and smaller pieces of a larger variety of colors to use for the torn paper designs.
Have students refer to one of the haiku that was transcribed on chart paper. Ask them to talk about the image depicted in the haiku, and the feelings it evokes. Have them talk about colors and/or shapes that would help illustrate these things.
Give students directions for affixing their poems to construction paper backgrounds. Tell them they will be using torn paper to make designed borders that illustrate the images or feelings in their poems. Show students how to tear construction paper to create a shape or design, if they need an example. Show how even straight lines should have torn edges.
Students will work independently to create torn paper designs for their poem backgrounds. As they finish, display their work.
Pair up students and have them evaluate each other’s haikus. Allow time for students to make revisions.
3. If using tablets or computers, allow time for students to complete their haikus. Then pair up students and allow time for students to evaluate each other haikus. Provide the opportunity for students to revise their haikus. Once all have had the opportunity to revise, project the haikus through the LCD projector and share together the finished poems.
- If the class as a whole needs more support, create the word charts one at a time with the whole class participating, and model the writing of one haiku with the whole class participating in the writing.
- Instead of torn paper construction paper borders, have students use a different medium, such as watercolor washes, tissue paper or other collages, or chalk designs on black backgrounds.
- If computers are available, students could create their final copies of Fall Haikus using the Seasonal Haiku Reproducibles. Here, students can type the haikus within the leaves and print them out for their very own Fall Haiku Book or cut them out to create a falling leaves bulletin board.
- For Halloween haiku, try the "Ghosts and Ghouls" in the Fridge Magnets interactive. For fun, the interactive also includes collections of words for haiku about dragons, sweets, and cats. Alternately, use the ReadWriteThink interactive Word Mover.
- Print the haikus that were created using the Haiku Poem App and/or Haiku Student Interactive. Display in the school hallways for all to see.
- Create a class webpage at Google or Wix or class wiki at Wikispaces. Post the haikus that the students created using the app or student interactive.
Student Assessment / Reflections
Teacher observation of individual student participation in group work.
Teacher observation of students’ individual work.
Finished haiku following required written criteria.
Relationship of visual and written images in finished work.
Student/teacher conferences about student work.
Evaluation of the haiku using the Haiku Evaluation Rubric.
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