Barry Lane, one of my favorite authors, suggested that we have kids "Haiku everything!" I love the haiku because kids HAVE to summarize--they can't plagiarize--and fitting a big idea into a very small, structured poem is hard. It's a great higher-level thinking activity for your students. Assign this journal task when you want kids to summarize a story or concept's BIG ideas and to really have to think hard while they do it!
Further notes about teaching haikus, which I always did very early on so that I could use the structure often:
- I use two variations of the haiku: the seventeen syllable haiku, which is the harder format; and the seventeen word haiku, which is a bit easier but still a challenge.
- In a true haiku, if you want to have an extra challenge (as you differentiate instruction for your stronger writers), there is a reference to nature. Challenge your students to add a simile about nature, or a hint at human nature.
Set the Stage:
What I say when assigning this: "Okay Students, your journal page needs to be divided into two halves. One half will contain a Mr. Stick haiku, and the other half will contain a series of haikus that show me you understood the big ideas or the big plot points in the story today. I would think four haikus would be a pretty good summary, but six might help you make a even greater one.
"Full credit today for using only seventeen words in each haiku, but I might give you a few bonus points if you challenge yourself to the seventeen syllable version!
"I, of course, am expecting all names and proper nouns correctly."
After reading the act 4 from Oedipus Rex (one of my favorite texts ever!), I challenged my students to summarize the big points of the play so far. Will H.--one of my sophomores--did an exceptional job of using the seventeen-syllable version of haikus! If you click on it, you can view it larger so you can print it on an 8.5" x 11" page.
I'm Looking for more Samples:
If you use this Mr. Stick journal task with your students (grades 4-12) and end up with an example that you believe I can feature here, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am especially looking for samples on topics other than mythology! If you photograph/scan a journal page that I end up featuring here, I will send you one of the NNWP's Print Publications as my way of saying "Thanks!"