Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Piecing Together The Hallway Haiku Project

While it has been a few weeks since I first posted regarding the Hallway Haiku Project my English 11 classes and I had been involved in, I have not forgotten about them. To their credit, as you'll read, neither have the students. Prior to our ten day Winter Recess, which ended today, the classes and I had continued honing our "products," ultimately selecting a "final four" of sorts: the four haiku from a total of roughly 240 generated by the classes, which represented (given specific criteria) what we had hoped to communicate to the school as a whole

As anyone who is involved in the democratic process on any level will attest, the "winner" is not always the "best," and with this in mind, prior to the break we took the activity to the next level, from both the linguistic to the visual, and from the group to the personal. I hoped to give them a chance to work with both the final four, like the one to the left ("Life is a puzzle,/pieces not always fitting,/ sometimes that's better."), as well as one of their own haiku which had not been selected to move on in our "Haiku Survivor" contest, but to them had a kernel of merit worth revisiting.
The task was as follows: each student was assigned one of the four (4) hallway haiku that had made the cut based on individual group (hello, oxymoron!) consensus. With the haiku as a part of the visual, students then had to use either Microsoft Publisher or Word, to draft a visual representation to go along with the assigned haiku. The result would be a hallway sign of sorts, communicating on both linguistic and visual levels. Students were told that the visuals, or signs, should be easily interpreted.

The follow-up activity was to then revise (if necessary) one of their haiku and do the same for that. In the case of both the finalists and their own haiku I invited students to play with punctuation use (dashes, commas, periods) to see if they could tweak the meaning of lines by doing so.

The results were even better than expected on both fronts. The graphics developed by the students represented a wide range of interpretations and it was interesting to see what each brought to the visual table when considering a common series of words, in this case a haiku. As one could fairly expect, there were common motifs or symbols employed, especially when the haiku itself suggested one (such as the puzzle to the upper left). It was also nice to see the ownership not only the works produced collaboratively with an unnamed poet, but with the pieces they were given the opportunity to revisit.

This morning in class, one student inquired as to whether or not we would be returning to the hallway haiku project now that break had concluded, and actually get to hang some of the haiku up in the hallway. As I told her, that is the next step...

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