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Can You Haiku?

A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way,
this --
and it passes by.

--Issa (1762-1826)


Haiku show us the world in a water drop, providing
a tiny lens through which to glimpse the miracle and mystery of life. Combining
close observation with a moment of reflection, this simple yet highly sophisticated
form of poetry can help sharpen students' response to language and enhance their
powers of self-expression. In this lesson, students learn the rules and conventions
of haiku, study examples by Japanese masters, and create haiku of their own.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able
  • Describe the traditional rules and conventions of haiku.
  • Complete a song with elements of nature while they listen.
  • Interpret
    examples of haiku.
  • Characterize the image-evoking power of haiku.
  • Develop
    a vocabulary and ideas for writing haiku.
  • Compose a haiku based on a personal

Guiding Question:

are haiku poems composed? How do they differ from other forms of poetry? How does
a haiku paint a picture or create an image with just a few words? What makes this
form of poetry seem so personal, intimate, and appealing?

Preparing to Teach Haiku poems

  • This webquest consists of four learning activities that you can use together
    as a unit or adapt separately to your curricular needs.

  • Review the suggested activities, then download and duplicate any online materials
    you will need. If desired, you can bookmark specific web pages so that students
    can access relevant online materials directly. 

  • For guidance on talking about and interpreting haiku, explore the "Haiku
    by Basho
    " section, an interactive introduction to this seventeenth century master who pioneered
    the haiku tradition, and the Haiku for
    website, which takes a more contemporary approach, celebrating haiku's
    development into a form of poetry practiced around the world.

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