Note to Teachers: This is a general lesson that refers to resources you may use at The Haiku Foundation. It is designed to provide some structure, and also be flexible, so you can adapt the plan to the needs of your students.
Sharing haiku is central to the purpose of haiku (Jim Kacian, How to Haiku). Sharing may take several forms, including publications and performance. This new series of Lessons For All Ages is about ways of sharing haiku.
The topic of this first lesson is Book of the Week, edited by THF President Jim Kacian.
“The Book of the Week Archive is a second, electronic and selective look at the life’s blood of haiku, the individual collection.”
The goal is to learn about the Book of the Week Archive at The Haiku Foundation.
Discuss a Book of the Week post and poems from the featured chapbook by Peggy Willis Lyles. This is a group lesson, with listening comprehension and sharing haiku as the main objectives.
Time: About 30 minutes.
1. Chalkboard or easel, so you can copy a few poems from the chapbook, and refer to them as you teach.
2. Access to The Haiku Foundation website is an added plus, so teachers and students can see examples of chapbooks and other resources.
1. Book of the Week features a different book every Monday, in a post for troutswirl, The Haiku Foundation Blog. Jim Kacian introduces the poet and book, and a selection of poems follows. The post includes a picture of the book cover, and links to the complete book in The Haiku Foundation Digital Library. The books are used with permission.
2. In this lesson, we feature Still at the Edge by Peggy Willis Lyles (Swamp Press, 1980). The book includes 8 poems and block prints. The Book of the Week post for Still at the Edge is from August 17, 2015. Share the general information from this post with the group.
3. Here are two possible poems from Still at the Edge, to write on the chalkboard or easel. You may use any of the poems from the book for your lesson. Read each poem two times, and ask students to share their thoughts about the poems. Students may also volunteer to read aloud.
Shorter than the cornstalks, the scarecrow October twilight: the scarecrow in the garden drops its other glove — Peggy Willis Lyles
“A standard practice has grown up in English-language haiku circles to read a haiku, pause, and read it a second time, before moving on to the next poem. This has the advantage of allowing the images to be fixed a second time in the listener’s mind, and for the resonances to well up.” (Jim Kacian, How to Haiku).
This is a non-graded lesson and is a supplement to your formal curriculum. If the students enjoyed the lesson, it is a success!
1. Provide additional support as needed. The goal is for all students to be able to participate and enjoy sharing haiku. There may be students who would enjoy reading haiku aloud to a parent volunteer or peer tutor.
2. Students can begin the practice of a handwritten notebook, and copy one or two of the poems they especially like, along with the poet’s name. Another idea is that students can draw pictures inspired by the haiku. Some students may be ready to write a draft of a new poem.
3. Some students may be ready to create a booklet of their haiku — their own chapbooks. This could be an independent project or a special art lesson at another time.
We invite you to browse in the Book of the Week Archive, if you would like to repeat this lesson with additional books. There is a large and diverse collection. On a related note, you will see how well the books are preserved, in terms of design and papers used, and in some cases handwritten notes. We will feature the library in a future lesson plan.
Kacian, Jim. How to Haiku (Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2006).
Lyles, Peggy Willis. Still at the Edge (Northampton, MA: Swamp Press, 1980).
For more haiku lesson plans, specific to age and grade levels, please visit The Haiku Foundation Education Resources. The work of many teachers, poets, and scholars is featured there.
We hope this lesson is useful and look forward to your feedback.
Thanks to Jim Kacian for his work in publishing this lesson.
— Ellen Grace Olinger