Thursday, June 28, 2012

Haiku! Gesundheit

During my last student teaching placement, I had to implement a lesson that integrated the arts with another content area. I chose to teach a lesson in the realm of visual arts, specifically photography, and integrated it with haiku writing. I was teaching in a self-contained New Arrival Center classroom so I wanted to put together a project that provided multiple entry points. That way, all of my students, regardless of their English proficiency level, could engage and participate in my lessons.

Here's a quick overview of the project:

1. Students took a photograph of anything that symbolized their day at the zoo (for many students this was their favorite animal).

2. Students then wrote a haiku about their photograph.

3. I printed out each of their photographs, paired them with their respective haikus, and posted them along the walls of the room for the gallery walk.

4. Finally, students were given one vote each to determine their favorite photograph/haiku. The winner received a FunSaver camera. (After the gallery walk, I took down all the photographs and haikus and am in the process of binding them into a book. If you did this early enough in the year you could place the book in your classroom library for students to enjoy for the rest of the year.)

The lesson sequence looked like this:
Photography Lesson* (Day 1)
Field Trip to Zoo 
Haiku Lesson* (Day 2)
Haiku Work Days (Days 3 & 4 during centers)
Gallery Walk (Day 5) 

The culmination of student work was fantastic! Some of my newer refugee students had never even seen a camera before this project! As far as they knew, it was a "soul-eating" device. I was thrilled with how beautiful the photographs and haikus turned out. Below is the winning photograph/haiku as voted on by the class.

My Toucan Looks Like

Beautiful toucan
With his cute feathers colors
Red yellow and blue

Here were a few of my personal favorite haikus from the Gallery Walk:

Just a Joke

The black white furry
Try to make a funny joke
But nothing funny

Funny Sounds

Noisy duck quack quack
In the fresh water finds fish
Feathers help to swim

Camel Haiku
Long leg and long neck
With brown mountain on the back
Cute face with smile

This was by far my favorite photograph:

The Little Playful Monkey

The little monkey
Smells dirty and it laughs loud
It jumps very high

As I was planning what kind of lessons I wanted to implement, I remembered we had an upcoming field trip to the zoo. I knew as we got closer and closer to the day of the field trip the excitement level of my students would rise. I decided to capitalize on my students' amplified interest in zoo animals and designed the project around this theme. Building on each and every one of your individual students' interests can be challenging (especially with how big class sizes are these days) so take advantage of events like whole class field trips where you know a majority of your students will have some buy-in. I believe field trips can provide optimal opportunities for teachers to engage students in their learning. Some of the fondest and richest educational memories I have from my elementary school days are of field trips. How about you?

If you are interested, I've included links to both my photography and haiku lessons as well as my Gallery Walk protocol. You can access them by simply clicking on the appropriate link under the lesson sequence. I'd love to hear about any ideas you have to make this project better or how you would tailor it to work for your classroom. Happy teaching!

*Any flipcharts used are available via email. Just contact me. :)

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