Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hallway Haiku Project: Process & Model

A few weeks ago on Facebook my "friend" Scott Simon of NPR posted a story about his interview with activist/artist John Morse entitled Haiku Traffic Signs Bring Poetry To NYC Streets. Fascinated by the combination of poetry and visual representation, I set about developing a series of relatively quick activities I could work through with my Advanced Placement students. The intent was to have the activities culminate in the development of Hallway Haiku signs that could (depending on the quality of the final product) be posted throughout our school building--or at he very least the classroom.

First students were asked to write in their Writing journals about issues of importance to high school students and to suggest advice to be shared with peers in addressing these issues. This was followed by a quick consideration of the elements of classic haiku through the reading and analysis of traditional examples of the form written by form luminaries like Basho.

The following class, we took both activities and synthesized them into the writing of re-purposed haiku (really more of a senyru as the kigo, or seasonal word was unnecessary) intended to both evoke an image and to communicate a message or idea of value to the student's peers (high schoolers). This resulted in roughly 240 individual haiku (four by each of the sixty students).

The next two classes we dedicated time for peer reviewing and consensus building the 240 down to five. These will next be assigned to students for both revision (some punctuation placement may yield different meanings) and development of accompanying visuals. I still think some better options have been passed up via our student group consensus building, so I may allow a way for previously "rejected" finalists to find their way back in (sort of a poetry Redemption Island).

This morning I spent a little time (okay, really about an hour), revising a previously submitted, and ultimately rejected, draft with the purpose of using it to make a sample sign for sharing in class on Tuesday. The original hallway haiku was as follows: Urgent pencil strokes/tap-tap-tap of lead like rain,/still thoughts pool. This was actually an "exemplar" that had made it through but did NOT meet the 5-7-5 criteria, and so I set about revising it to meet the traditional form. I also realized that there really isn't lead in pencils anymore, so I sought to take that into consideration while playing with the language. A short time later I came up with: Shhh! Urgent pencils/move, tappety-tap of tips/like rain—still thoughts pool. I'm a fan of onomatopoeia and alliteration so figured "what the hey." While students will have Microsoft Publisher at their disposal at school, I was limited to Microsoft Word and online free clip art to make my model, posted to the left.

This week, we will proceed to the next phase and see what develops...

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