As a teacher, I know that what I do for my students each week has purpose and meaning. I intend for every lesson to stretch their minds, grow their learning and help them become the amazing people they will become. I plan, prep, think, re-plan, re-prep and re-think lessons before I teach them. After I teach them I think about how it went, did they learn what I intended them to learn? Did they grow? How can I make the lesson better? What can I tweak to get just a little more out of my students?
And sometimes, I plan lessons that absolutely flop. I'm human. It happens. All teachers learn to deal with lesson flops. But other times, I hit student-centered-learning pay dirt. And when that happens, it's awesome.
Recently, I saw a post on Jennifer Reed's blog about people who made a difference in 17 syllables and thought it was genius. I also happened to be working with our 6th grade team on how to best implement our new writing curriculum. Our 6th graders struggle with using "vivid" words, so we decided to apply the 17-syllable idea to book reviews.
First, I made sure students understood what a haiku was and how the format of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables worked. Then they brainstormed words to describe their books. That was all we had time for in our first 30 minute session. I looked at the descriptive words they'd come up with and circled the words I felt could be more "vivid" - replacing "boy" with "young man" etc. I really wanted the kids to think about synonyms and the meaning behind some of the words they chose.
The next week we worked on boiling our books down to two or three themes or lessons from the books they chose. Then, the worked on the writing of their actual haikus. The teachers and I were blown away with the amazing ideas they came up with!
Here's where the lesson absolutely took off. The kids floored us with their ability to come up with great haikus! The teachers even got so into writing haikus that they created an instagram account to share their haikus with one another. Originally, I wanted the students to use animoto to create short, quick animotos for their reviews - much like what Mrs. Reed did with her students. However, using a free app called Color Cap, we were able to have the students create visual representations of their haikus in about 20 minutes. The classroom teachers then published the haikus to their instagram account, and I was able to download the images and add them to our Kyffin LMC Book Blog.
Here are some of the amazing Haikus our 6th grade students created: