When I was in school, teachers began the year at the beginning of a text book and continued through that book until the end of the year. Students read the book, teachers lectured about the book, occasionally we would watch a video or do a project. Today’s classrooms are often times text book free and we know that lecture is not the idle teaching method. The way I was taught left me with no background knowledge to access when I was moved into the upper elementary grades. Teaching content subjects like social studies proved to be a challenge. Trying to figure out how to teach a new subject in a different way than I was taught required lots of hard work and creativity. I have tried many different teaching strategies and dug through multiple resources. This week my 6th grade social studies class was learning about ancient Japan. We began our week by working in a program called Studies Weekly. In this program students read several articles and answer questions about what they have read. I know this is similar to a text book just in a different format. However, what I love about this program is that their is always a writing component. This week students created a Haiku.
On Monday, when introducing the assignment for the next two days, I introduced a Haiku as a poem that was started in ancient Japan and is composed with 17 syllables. Five syllables in the 1st line, 7 in the 2nd and 5 in the 3rd line. Many of the students had heard or written a haiku in the past. We discussed what many Haiku are about, and what those themes show us about the Japanese culture. Once we decided that Haiku typically focuses on nature we chose a topic to write a class poem about. We decided on butterflies. While writing the poem we talked about syllables and different ways to count syllables. All of this took about 5-10 minutes. You can see the class poem below.
When writing their own haiku, students seemed very confident in their creations. You can see some of their poems below as well. It still amazes me at how confident writers can be when they are taught through modeling, examples, mentor text and are in an accepting classroom.