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Note to teachers: Thank you for taking a moment to visit our Haiku Lesson Plans. If you have not seen our Grades 3-4 Haiku Awareness and Reading Plans, you may wish to review and consider teaching them first, prior to this writing plan. We also welcome you to send us your haiku, so we can add your class poems to our Education Page, with your permission.

In this plan, we will be asking students to begin writing their own haiku. As a source of inspiration, and perhaps resource for vocabulary words, we are featuring haiku from Montage: The Book, Edited by Allan Burns (Winchester VA: The Haiku Foundation, 2010). The galleries which comprise the book are on-line here at The Haiku Foundation. For this lesson, we will also be showing teachers and students how haiku can be a part of science and history classes; as we are featuring haiku from “Gallery Seventeen: The Good Earth”. Each gallery includes an introduction and then seven poems by three poets, from different places and times. The introduction to Gallery Seventeen includes facts about Earth Day.

The overall theme for this lesson is: Every Day Is Earth Day.

Goal: The goal is for students to begin to write their own individual haiku.

This Grades 3 – 4 Haiku Writing Plan is subdivided into three short lessons, to model for the students that writing is a process.

1. The first lesson includes a discussion about Earth Day and examples of haiku by three poets, from “Gallery 17” in Montage. Students are asked to jot down their ideas for their poems on this general topic, along with possible vocabulary words.

2. The second lesson gives the students an opportunity to write their own haiku, with the overall theme Every Day Is Earth Day as inspiration.

3. The third lesson begins to teach the process of revision. We also include ideas for sharing the haiku written. You may wish to formally grade their work. Haiku are now written in traditional (3 lines, with a syllable count of 5/7/5), contemporary, and innovative forms. We’ll suggest some ideas for grading methods that reflect haiku today. The overall goal is for the students to enjoy poetry. We are simply offering some options that may be helpful, and we look forward to your feedback.

The lessons should be taught over 2 or 3 days, so the students have the opportunity to revisit their poems after some time has passed.

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LESSON ONE: Pre-writing lesson, with Montage poems as examples and inspiration.

Objective: Students will participate in a class discussion about Earth Day: read 3 poems from “Gallery 17: The Good Earth” in Montage, and write a few notes for themselves about ideas for their own haiku, including vocabulary words.

Materials: Chalkboard, and writing materials for the students (large or small notebook, single sheets of paper, index cards etc.).

Time: About 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the size of your group and amount of discussion.

Method:

1. Write EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY on the chalkboard. Ask the students if they know about this day. To help inform and deepen the appreciation of haiku, each gallery of poems in Montage has an introduction to featured haiku. Quoting from “Gallery 17: The Good Earth”: “The first Earth Day celebration on 22 April 1970 makes a convenient starting point for the modern environmental movement . . .’It was a gamble,’ said Earth Day’s founder, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, ‘but it worked.’” Write the date and Senator Nelson’s name on the board, so students can begin to see how haiku, science, and history inter-relate.

2. Write HAIKU — A BRIEF POEM on the board. Continuing with the preface to the Earth Day gallery, tell the students that “Haiku, too, contain the seeds of environmental consciousness,” and that “If our lives are conducted in the true spirit of haiku, we would not be at odds with the health of our planet.” Ask the students how they are a part of taking care of our planet. Perhaps you already have a recycling program in your class and school, for example. Tell the students that they will be jotting down ideas for their own haiku at the end of this discussion, and that the next lesson will be about writing their poems.

3. Write (in advance of the lesson) the following three haiku from Gallery 17 on the chalkboard, in a horizontal manner. The dates are provided so readers can begin to see, as they read naturally, the history of this honored form of poetry. You’ll also find, if you have time to browse through the Montage galleries, that while haiku continue to be written in three lines, the form continues to grow and change. For example, students may wish to write one-line haiku.

    winter wind—
    the last oak leaf
    forgets its branch
    —Paul O. Williams (1935-2009)

    river’s song
    a wounded turtle
    slips into it
    —Marian Olson (b. 1939)

    sunrise wind
    a solitary sandpiper
    walks the waterline
    —Paul MacNeil (b. 1948)

4. Read the haiku to the students slowly, two times. The slow pace is to model the value of each word, and to give the students time to connect with the haiku. Then ask for volunteers to read the poems. Reading along silently is fine as well. Discuss the haiku with the students.

5. Ask the students to select one haiku from the board to copy in their notebooks, or on a sheet of paper, etc., including the name of the author and dates after his/her name. This will reinforce the importance of references, and add to their sense of accomplishment, when they write their names after their poems (third lesson in this plan). Vocabulary words from the class discussion can also be noted and written, so students can refer to their list when writing their own haiku.

6. Tell the students the next lesson will be about writing their own poems about their experiences with nature, observations, efforts to care for the planet etc. Ask them to think about what they might want to say in a short poem, writing from their own cultures and life experiences.

7. If you use this lesson close in time to Earth Day (22 April), it could be part of a unit, or special activity. Otherwise, the theme, Every Day Is Earth Day can be reinforced, as fits with your class schedule and program.

Adaptations:

1. Read additional haiku from Gallery 17, and/or other galleries of your choice, if you feel the students need more examples before the next lesson.

2. The haiku could also be written on an easel, if you need the board for other subject areas. Reread the poems at different times, allowing students time to connect with them at their own pace. We all respond to different poems in different ways, so good for the students to know it is fine if they do not “get” a poem. Perhaps another time.

3. Peer tutoring may be helpful, for those students who are not confident readers at this time.

4. For students who are not confident at writing, assure them that haiku may be dictated as well. The goal is to keep the focus on the haiku, and not let other skill areas—as important as they are—cause the students to appreciate poetry less.

Evaluation: Provide positive and corrective feedback in a conversational way. Check to be sure each student copied the poem he/she selected from the board accurately, and that additional vocabulary words are spelled correctly. The overall goal is for the students to connect haiku with their everyday lives, so beginning to write flows naturally in their own words. We provide suggestions for grading their poems at the end of Lesson Three.

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LESSON TWO: Using their notes from Lesson One, students write a practice haiku of their own.

Objective: Students write individual haiku, with guidance from the teacher and class discussion.

Materials: Chalkboard. Paper and pencils.

Time: About 20 – 30 minutes.

Method:

1. Begin with a review of Lesson One, including the basic facts about Earth Day. Recall and summarize the highlights of their discussion, with the students adding their thoughts. If possible, keep the haiku from Lesson One on the board, or rewrite them on the board, so students can refer to both the board and their notes. Read each poem again for the students.

2. Ask the students to reread silently the haiku they selected from the previous lesson, from their notes. Ask for a few volunteers to read a favorite haiku aloud and say why the poem spoke to them.

3. The students have now seen that words can be put together to create haiku. Ask the students to share what they wish to write about in their poems. Topics may include: recycling, trees, plants and flowers at home, windmills, gardening, clean air/pollution, rivers, lakes, the oceans, native plants, etc. Write vocabulary words from this discussion on the board, to help with short-term memory and spelling.

4. Ask the students to write one haiku. Tell them the idea at this stage is to simply put their words down on paper, as practice haiku. Also, remind them that these rough drafts will not be graded – that the next lesson will focus on revisions, after they have had some time to think about their new art, their haiku poems! The main objective for them is to begin writing haiku. Provide prompts and guidance as needed, so each student has a poem to revise in the next lesson. Other ideas and methods from your Language Arts Curriculum may apply, and we look forward to learning from you. The Adaptations section which follows includes intermediate steps, if you feel your students would benefit from them (e.g, writing in pairs first).

Adaptations:

1. Students may work in pairs or small groups, as an intermediate step to writing individual haiku.

2. Perhaps a parent volunteer may be able to assist the teacher and listen to students, individually, think through what they wish to say, and help with spelling and vocabulary.

3. Some students may need to dictate their haiku at first, and then illustrate their poems.

4. Some students may wish to draw a picture of what they want to say, and then find their words and write their poems accordingly.

5. Some students may be ready to write additional haiku of their own.

Evaluation: Provide positive and corrective feedback, informally. Ask the students to write “Rough Draft” on their pages, so as they share with their families and others, it is clear their poems are a work-in-progress. This will also remind them to be patient as they arrive at a haiku that expresses what they wish to say. Haiku is a lifelong art, which encourages beginners, and challenges experienced poets alike.

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LESSON THREE: Revision and sharing of the students’ haiku.

After some time has passed, students are given an opportunity to revise and share their haiku. This could be in the afternoon, after Lesson Two in the morning; or the next day or two. The idea is that students experience a fresh perspective of their work after some time has passed.

Objective: Students will revise their haiku from Lesson Two, and share in a class discussion.

Materials: The students’ haiku, paper and pencils or pens. Art supplies if you wish to ask the students to illustrate their poems.

Time: About 20 – 30 minutes.

Method:

1. Ask the students to remember what they wanted to say in their haiku. Encourage some discussion.

2. Then ask the students to reread their rough drafts silently. Do their haiku express what they wanted to say? Their thinking may have changed, and so their haiku. Or they may realize their poems need to focus on one aspect of their thoughts: for example, the birch tree in their yard, not trees in general. Can they add more information; for example, colors.

3. Ask for a few volunteers to read their rough drafts to the class. Encourage an atmosphere of acceptance, a safe place to share.

4. Ask the students to make changes/revisions according to what they’ve learned from reflection and discussion. Then ask the students to copy their revised poem on a new sheet of paper – AND sign their work!

5. Check for spelling errors and an overall appearance of haiku (a short poem; written in one, two, three, or four lines). Provide lots of encouragement for this first effort, for creativity, imagination, and other aspects of poetry.

6. Ask for volunteers to read their “finished” poems aloud. Many poets revise their work many times, and students may wish to revise their work again too.

7. Share their haiku in a wider way. Ideas include preparation of a special Earth Day Haiku book, a bulletin board in the class and/or school library, and sharing with their families.

Adaptations:

1. From Lessons One and Two, some students may emerge as being ready to serve as peer tutors and help their classmates revise their haiku.

2. A parent volunteer may be able to help the students revise their work.

3. Some students may need to dictate their revised poems, depending on their skill levels.

4. Provide other additional guidance as needed, so every student has a haiku to share. Schedule another class time, if necessary.

Evaluation:

1. One option is to assign a grade of: Excellent, Satisfactory, Needs Improvement.

2. Ask students who need improvement to revise again, to reach Satisfactory or Excellent. The goal is for every student to be able to display and/or take a haiku home with a good grade.

3. If the students enjoy haiku and wish to read and write poetry again, that is the best indication of the success of this lesson. We hope teachers, parents, and others enjoy it as well. In fact, you may wish to write and revise along with the students, in future lessons.

Additional poems:

We hope you send us your haiku and add to this Page. Thank you for your time and we hope this Education Page is useful.

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