Saturday, January 4, 2014

Writing Haikus

Way back in 2009, I worked with a friend of mine who is an SLP to devise a manipulative word bank to help my summer school students with autism generate their own sentences and write a simple paragraph.  It sounds pretty straightforward, but it was actually quite a bit of work for me because I had never had to provide quite that level of support for students.  You can read about it here.

This year, I used this strategy again.  While my current students, don't have the severe needs of the class I developed the system for, I thought it would be helpful for some of them.

We were working on a unit that focused on different forms of poetry.  One of the lessons for the general education students at grade level was to write a haiku.  I wanted my students to do this too.  So I stole some ideas from my general ed teacher friends and then added some supports to them.  Here is what we did:

1) Each student painted a background of mixed colors with yellow and orange.  My assistants and I used our Elison machine to cut out some "bare trees," spiders, and leaves.  The kids used the black shapes to glue a scene to their previously painted background.  (Sorry I don't have a picture of this! I'll see if I can update this with a "fake" one that I make so you can see what I"m talking about.)

2) As a whole group we looked at the pictures that were created and generated a word bank of words that described our pictures.  I wrote them on the board and the kids copied them.  We also reviewed the rules and syllable pattern for creating a haiku.

3) Two of my students were able to generate their haikus after completing these activities, others needed some more help.

4) I transferred the word bank to post it notes and put dots underneath each word to identify how many syllables the word had.

4) The students moved and manipulated the words to create a phrase that made sense and also fit the syllable pattern for a haiku.

5) When they finished writing their haiku, they read it to me and I typed it on the computer.  We printed their haiku and they used craft scissors to cut the edges of the paper the poem was printed on.  Then they glued their haiku to their picture and we hung it up for display!

When my general education team decided this was going to be one of the "published" pieces we would do for our quarter 2 writing grades, I was a bit worried.  Writing a haiku is very abstract.  I needed to find a way to teach the syllable pattern and the emphasis on nature to my students.  The art project and the post it notes (as well as previous experience with haikus we read aloud) helped them to successfully complete this! It's nice to be "pushed" into doing something that is a bit uncomfortable sometimes. (I never would have chosen haikus as a published writing sample.)   As a teacher, it made my brain stretch and think about how to make this lesson work with my students.