Standard Lesson

Summarizing with Haikus

6 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 50-minute sessions
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While haikus are typically used for nature poetry, the short format of haikus lends itself to summarizing opinions creatively. After completing a persuasive writing assignment students use the Haiku Poem App or the Haiku Poem Interactive to they practice the key skill of summarizing using the concise format of haiku poetry to recap their writing. 

Because students must make every word count, they must focus on concise word choice. Additionally, the non-rhyming characteristic of haikus lowers anxiety of students who feel they cannot write poetry.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Cheney points out that frequently students are “turned off” by poetry because English teachers have lead their classes in discussions that overanalyze the literary characteristics of poems. In particular, he believes instructors should focus on the haiku’s ability to capture a “moment, image, or feeling.” Furthermore, Sloan points out that students often feel “poetry is disconnected with reality” when it discusses nature themes traditionally found in haikus. However, by having his journalism students use haikus to editorialize news events, which he nicknamed “eduhus,” his student were more engaged by the emotional images.

Equally important, this lesson allows for students to practice their skills in summarizing. According to Dean, summarizing “links reading and writing and requires higher-level thinking.” McLaughlin and Allen also include this skill as important strategy to improve to reading comprehension. The more opportunities the students are given to practice their summarizing skills, the more successful they will be in reading and writing in other content areas as well.

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.

State Standards

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.

Materials and Technology

  • Tablets or computers with Internet access
  • One computer with LCD projector and adapter to connect tablets to this computer
  • Paper to print haikus (optional)
  • Printer (optional)



Although this website is geared for elementary students, it can serve as an introduction to haiku poetry.  It would also be good for reviewing what a haiku is if students have already studied this poetry form.

This app for the iPad features haikus divided by seasons.  It also includes a quiz in which the reader guesses what season is being described by haikus.

This app for the iPad can provide examples for students to examine.

This app for Android devices has examples of haikus as well as includes the possibility of writing and publishing haikus.


  1. Download the Haiku Poem App on the tablets or bookmark or link the Haiku Poem Interactive to a class wiki or website.
  2. Select one haiku from one of the apps, the KidZone Poetry website, or the Suggested Books for Haikus printout to use during the first class session. Choose a haiku that follows the traditional format but does not focus on nature.
  3. Make one copy for each student of the Haiku Starter and Haiku Summary Rubric.
  4. Prior to this lesson,students need to have completed any type of writing assignment. For example, they could have completed any of the following lessons: Chasing the Dream: Researching the Meaning of the American Dream, Persuading the Principal: Writing Persuasive Letters About School Issues, or Pictures Books as Framing Texts: Research Paper Strategies for Struggling Writers.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • identify the format of haiku poetry.
  • create haikus using concise and descriptive language to evoke images.
  • summarize a longer piece of writing in the format of a haiku.

Session One

  1. Begin by projecting one of the haikus you have selected on the whiteboard. Read the haiku together. Ask students questions about the traditional format of a haiku. Cover the following areas:
    • Number of syllables per line (5-7-5 pattern)
    • Number of lines (three lines)
    • No rhyme
    • The necessity of descriptive and concise vocabulary in a haiku
  2. Divide the class into partners, and give each group a tablet or book from the printout Suggested Books for Haikus. Ask students to read with their partners several haikus and find one they would like to share with the class. Explain that they are to tell the class if it follows the traditional format and examples of concise, descriptive vocabulary.
  3. Once students have had enough time to prepare, have each pair share their haiku example with the class. Be sure to cover the following:
    • Number of syllables may vary slightly
    • Examples of descriptive, concise words
  4. Explain to the class that they will write haikus that summarize a writing assignment they recently completed. Project the Sample Haiku and tell the class this haiku summarizes an essay about the importance of exercise for senior citizens. Ask students to explain based on this haiku what reasons the writer used in his essay.
  5. Project either the Haiku Poem App or the Haiku Poem Interactive to discuss the section How to Write a Haiku. Hand out the Haiku Starter and explain to the class they will be creating a haiku that describes their recently completed writing assignment. Give students time to complete the first page of the Haiku Starter and then work on developing their haikus using the list of brainstormed words.
  6. Assign students to complete the Haiku Starter for the next session.

Session Two

  1. Divide the class into pairs. First have the pairs read each other’s papers. Then have the students read each other’s Haiku Starter printouts. Ask students to suggest to each other possible other words they might want to consider for their haikus.
  2. Model for students how to use the Haiku Poem App or the Haiku Poem Interactive. Remind the students to consider the following:
    • Follows the 5-7-5 pattern or is close to the pattern.
    • Is written in three lines.
    • Contains examples of descriptive language
    • Sums up the paper concisely
  3. Allow time for students to write their haikus and select their images. If time allows, have the students work again with their partners to evaluate each other’s haiku using the Haiku Summary Rubric.
  4. Once the students are satisfied with their haikus, instruct the students on how to e-mail the haikus for evaluation.

Session Three

  1. Check that all students have completed their haikus and sent them to you. Allow time for students who might need additional time. Project each haiku and have students read their haikus. Discuss with the class if they can tell what each student wrote about based on his/her haiku.
  2. After all have presented, ask students to reflect on this lesson using some of the statements in the assessment section.


  • Share the haikus with other classes in the school.
  • Post the haikus to a class wiki or website.
  • Try the Haiku Poem App or the Haiku Poem Interactive for other projects to practice summarizing skills, such as describing characters in stories, reviewing the plot of novel, or recapping events in history.
  • Hold a Poetry Café and invite other classes and parents to hear students read their haikus.
  • Invite students to e-mail their haikus to other people, such as their parents, grandparents, or friends.
  • Use the lesson Animate that Haiku to create videos of the haikus.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Possible student assessment include

  • Examine the students’ completed Haiku Starter.
  • Evaluate the haikus using the Haiku Summary Rubric.
  • Keep notes on student participation during sessions One and Two when students work with partners.
  • Ask students to complete the following statements:
From this project I learned ___________________________.
This project was easy for me because ________________________.
This project was hard for me because ________________________.
This project could have been improved by ___________________.

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