My 7th graders are currently studying poetry. Two of the types of poems they learn bout and have the funnest time with are haiku and limericks.
For limericks, we read a few examples I find on the internet so they can get the pattern down. Sometimes, they think the poem is funny, sometimes, they just think it’s dumb. I make sure to explain to them that the point is that it is lighthearted.
One of my absolute favorite ways to teach haiku is this:
1) Show them classical-style haiku (English haiku that have the 5-7-5 pattern–in 8th grade they learn that the when the original Japanese is translated into English, the syllables get lost)
2) Discuss the themes–describing nature, but a theme/moral of life in the undertone
3) Tell them, nowadays, haiku aren’t always about nature, but the form is the most important part.
4) Prove my point by showing them this clip from one of my favorite cartoons:
I make my students write their own haiku and limerick. I tell them the limerick has to make me laugh and rhyme properly, and I will be counting their syllables on their haiku. If they don’t succeed, they’ll be thrown out, just like Sokka from the video.
Here are some golden nuggets from their poems:
“There once was a boy from Peru
Who put on a very big shoe
He tripped and he fell
And rang a big bell
So now he can’t eat tofu.”
“There once was a big canoe
That wore a big fat shoe
That stepped in a pot
He was a big fat canoe”
“I do not like Obama
I hope he gets eaten by a llama
Although I normally do not care
About a political affair
With this I speak with drama”
“The wind comes around
And sometimes the wind will go
It will always blow.”
“The tree was pretty
Then a leaf fell down the tree
Then someone smooshed it”
“A silent old stream,
Filled with schools of big fishes,
Splash! I’m all wet.”
Aren’t they great!?!? This week, we are working on narrative and lyric poems, so it’ll be fun to see their imaginations on those. Last week, we studied both versions of William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper.” We also read an article about the history of the chimney sweeper children in Great Britain. We compared and contrasted the poems to each other and to what actually happened in history. We are in the process of writing a 4 paragraph essay on this topic. We are trying really hard to make sure the students pull specific evidence to support their claims, as that is what the Common Core, and the new Utah Standard Test SAGE is requiring. They have finished their outlines, and I am very proud of the specific detail and direct quotes they are deciding to use.
Check back on the 2nd Wednesday of November for more! By then, we will have started Twelfth Night
Have you ever had to write Haiku or Limericks in school? Do you remember them?
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