April is National Poetry Month, which is a perfect time to involve students in what, to them, may be a new form of poetry – Haiku.
Spring time is the perfect time for the teaching of Haiku. The world holds promise of new life, new experiences, and new possibilities.
Haiku lends itself to these kinds of thoughts by using a detailed focus on some external object to convey a personal mood and meaning. Some believe that the Haiku form is the purest type of poetry because of its dedication to conveying the fundamental essence of a particular moment.
As we know, a traditional Haiku is comprised of three lines, each limited to the number of syllables it may contain: First line, five syllables; second line, seven syllables; third line, five syllables. Some believe these limits are guidelines only, and the syllable count can very. Others believe that students should become comfortable with the traditional form first in order to fully grasp the Haiku concept; once they have done so, they can stray from the syllable counts.
There are three basic parts to a Haiku:
- The Topic. This sets the tone for the words to be used. Is this a joyous poem? Is it one of despair? Of hope? Of peaceful reflection? Or is it conveying a fundamental truth? Settling on the mood helps focus on the kind of words selected for the poem.
- The Focus. The first two lines of a Haiku usually focus on the details of something external: a flower, a bird, a baby’s laughter, melting snow, a dilapidated barn. A specific thing or setting that establishes the context and mood. This is the ‘set up’ if you will, to the third line ‘payoff.’
- The Reveal. The final line of a Haiku pulls everything together, even if obliquely, and brings into focus the overall essence of the poem.
This Haiku by student Jeanne Jordan, taken from educationworld.com shows how all three parts can be expressed:
The tears of a girl
With a crushed and broken heart
Hidden from her friends
Another, by Samantha Keim:
A gentle breeze blows
Taking the scent of a bud
Along for the ride.
To help students tackle Haikus, a printable worksheet is available from ReadWriteThink. To add a visual component, Haiku Poem App presented by ReadWriteThink enables students to fashion zen-like backgrounds for their Haikus. And if you’re not on the go or with a device, they offer a desktop, interactive version called Haiku Poem Interactive. Lastly, if a free lesson plan is your style, Haiku Society of America offers two lesson plans that cover all grade levels.
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