* Work on reading skills so that students can present their writings in the
best manner. All the assignments except the first one using Haiku's are
presented orally by the students before they turn them in. Therefore they
need to have their assignments completed by the due date. If the teacher
lets the students volunteer, it causes a better class spirit, but some
students may put off finishing on time because they rely on others to
volunteer. All assignments are to be typed except those written in class
and as journals.
UNIT: HAIKU [Focus: Clarity of Expression]
Haikus are underestimated in their challenge and value as a writing assignment. I assign only two or three. When possible, I assign them the week before spring break so the students can work on them over the vacation.
Haikus by definition are: a form of Japanese poetry which states in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables a 1.) clear picture designed to arouse a 2.) distinct emotion and suggest a 3.) spiritual insight. A tradtional haiku is written in the following pattern:
A blank page of sand-
I don't don't work much on defining 'spiritual' but simply confine it to an 'aha!' or 'light goes on' experience. This assignment requires very little writing but requires much thought and focus and if done correctly, the benefits carry on to longer assignments. The students write their haikus in the traditional pattern but I show them Japanese haikus translated into a couplet form.
Excellent haikus may be found in 'A Net of Fireflies' by Harold Tran
Stewart. As Stewart illustrates, the Japanese haikus translate better into English
couplets than into the traditional haiku form of three lines of 5, 7, 5,
syllables. Stewart's haikus contain the other more important elements of
haikus and I use them in class to illustrate these elements and use a few
more basic haikus to teach the haiku format of three lines of 5, 7, 5,
This practice helps students realize what qualities a haiku should possess,
and helps them to begin being involved in a discussion without being as
self-conscious as they might be discussing their own writing.
Below are some examples of what I feel are exquisite haikus from a Net of Fireflies.
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