Note to Teachers: Thank you for visiting our Haiku Lessons page. We hope it is useful and inspiring, and we welcome your feedback. The first plan for this age level focuses on Awareness of English-language haiku; you may wish to teach this plan first, if you have not done so already. The third lesson in this sequence of plans begins to teach the students to write their own haiku. We welcome you to share your students’ poems with us, so we can learn together.
For this Reading plan, we continue to feature haiku from Montage: The Book (Winchester VA: The Haiku Foundation, 2010). The book cover is a watercolor painting by Ron Moss, Joy; and the book design is by Jim Kacian (Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press). You and your class can view the cover of the book, and the galleries may be viewed in the Montage Archive. This book may inspire the creation of a class haiku book, at the end of the writing plan.
Goal: To show beginning comprehension of haiku by a variety of poets; along with beginning to discover haiku history through examples of poems.
Objective: To show understanding of three haiku from Montage, through listening and reading along with the teacher, silently and aloud (if the student volunteers); and participating in a class discussion. You may also wish to ask the students to take informal notes.
Materials: Chalkboard. Writing materials for students may also be included; as the habit of writing in a notebook, for example, is a valuable method. As noted above, our third plan in this sequence is a formal writing plan.
Time: About 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the size of the group and the amount of discussion.
1. This is a group lesson. Write the following three haiku on the chalkboard, horizontally, so students can read the poems as if reading a book. This is the format in Montage, and it is so designed to help readers see and discover that haiku by people in different places, and writing at different times, can center around common themes and be as new today as when written.
These haiku are from Gallery “ThirtyThree: The Haiku Capital of the Midwest.”
- still night
—Bill Pauly (b. 1942)
he removes his glove
to point out
—Raymond Roseliep (1917 – 1983)
water calls them
out of the sky
—Francine Banwarth (b. 1947)
2. Here is some background information to share with your class. In his introduction to this gallery, Montage editor Allan Burns writes: “It’s surely a fact worth remarking that, according to the 2008 Membership List, there are more members of the Haiku Society of America from the town of Dubuque, Iowa (population 57, 250) than there are from roughly half the states in the Union. What’s going on here?! It all begins with one of the great names in the short history of English-language haiku: Raymond Roseliep, a priest, a poet, and a professor who taught haiku informally at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, starting in the early 60s. Among his many students was Bill Pauly, who later taught a haiku writing workshop at Loras himself for about twelve years. One of his finest students was Francine Banwarth. . . .” Burns concludes his introduction by dedicating this gallery to the memory of Raymond Roseliep, who was born on August 11, 1917.
You may also wish to view The Haiku Foundation Interviews: Francine Banwarth. This interview is part of The Video Archive. Jim Kacian interviewed Banwarth in July of 2012 at The Cradle of American Haiku Festival in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. We will discuss Francine Banwarth’s thoughts about the writing of haiku in more detail in our writing plan for Grades 5 – 6.
3. Haiku may be defined simply as a “short poem.” Read the three haiku aloud to the students at a slow pace. Include the poets and the years of their lives (for Roseliep) and the dates of birth for the other two poets. Then read the poems a second time, perhaps pointing to the lines as you read. The goal is to model for the students the value of each word and line in a haiku.
4. Ask the students to read the three haiku with you a third time in unison. We recognize that the reading levels of the students likely vary. If a student is not comfortable reading aloud in a group, we suggest that reading along silently is fine, since comprehension is the goal.
5. Discuss the haiku with the class, including any new vocabulary words. Students may wish to take notes, to help them with their writing process in the next plan.
Possible questions and prompts for discussion are:
What are these haiku about? Ask the students to simply share one or two details from the poems, so they can experience the haiku at their own paces.
From what part of America are these poets writing their haiku? The region and state? The idea is to develop the thought that we write from our own lives — where we live, what we experience, our own cultures.
Do you especially like one of these three haiku? Why? When was the person who wrote your favorite poem born? About how long was this before you were born? The purpose of these questions is for the students to share and begin to discover that haiku written at different times connect with their own lives.
6. If possible, keep the haiku on display, and informally, ask the students to read them again, silently or aloud, and share their thoughts. Haiku encourage reader participation.
7. Repeat the lesson with additional haiku, according to the schedule that is right for your class.
1. Some students may volunteer to read the haiku for the class.
2. Some students may wish to read a poem aloud to a teacher, fellow student, and/or parent volunteer.
3. Another idea is for students to write their favorite haiku in their notebooks, or on index cards, to begin to create collections of favorite poems.
4. Some students may be ready to begin writing haiku.
5. An art lesson can be created around the poems, with student illustrations.
Since this is a group lesson, provide positive and corrective feedback in an informal way. The major goal at this stage is for the students to simply enjoy the beauty of this form. The writing plan which follows asks them to begin to create their own haiku, and we offer suggestions for grading their work.
Here are more poems from Montage, from various galleries, if you would like to apply the premise of this lesson to more haiku.
We include haiku written in both three lines and one line, so students can see some of the different ways their haiku may be written as well, depending upon what they wish to say.
halfway up the stair—
—Elizabeth Searle Lamb (1917-2005)
“Gallery One: Foundations”
windy day i think in music
—Jim Kacian (b. 1953)
“Gallery Five: In Concert”
snowed in all Groundhog Day
—Christopher Patchel (b. 1953)
“Gallery Seven: Midwinter Spring”
at every window
a child’s face
—Roberta Beary (b. 1954)
“Gallery Twelve: Green Green Green”
Once snows have melted
the village soon overflows
with friendly children
—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)
“Gallery TwentyEight: Transience”
pale moon the thinning of days into winter
—Billie Wilson (b. 1941)
“Gallery FortySeven: The Haiku Foundation”