As we’re ending the school year, I know that the tween brains in my classroom are all silently deciding what information will be transferred to long-term memory and what will forever be taken out with the trash. To hopefully avoid your content being left to the dump, it’s really important that you help them reflect on what they learned and how they learned it. This one step can help ensure that more of your lessons and units are deeply embedded than deleted.
So as we’re wrapping up the school year, I wanted to share a lesson that I do that helps my tweens reflect back on all that we have done together. It’s called the Epic Poem Haiku.
Part I of the assignment not only serves to embed the information more deeply, it also gives students a visual mirror of what they’ve accomplished.
Part II of the assignment also gives me a sense of what had an impact on their learning so that I can improve my class from year-to-year. In other words, their reflection helps my own.
This assignment is a two-parter. The first part can be accomplished in groups. The second is an individual activity. See below for details:
Directions: You can work with a partner or up to 3 other people for this assignment. Look
at all the resources at your disposal to reflect back on your year in ELA. This can be week-to-week, quarter-by-quarter, topic-by-topic. You need to create an epic haiku poem. Each stanza must reflect 1 thing that was learned. Hint: Look at Wolpertworld. Check out Google Classroom. Look at your digitial portfolio or even the walls of the classroom. Find the places that can help you remember long ago, and break the stanzas up into really detailed bites. Who knows how many you’ll come up with! Think in a really detailed way, and remember that a haiku is broken up into 3 lines: 5-7-5
Here’s an example:
Brain sweats inventing.
Experts here for convention.
Dog poop on shoe solved.
Connect all of the stanzas together and submit. The due date of this assignment is Thursday, May 11.
Once the students brought in the scrolls, we created a gallery walk around the room of the unraveled poems. Some of them could unscroll across the length of the room. Students from different periods could write on the actual epic poem itself or slap-on post-its to comment on what they were reading.
“I forgot all about this! I loved this assignment!” or “Oh, you really focused on collaborating here. I wrote a stanza on the same thing, but focused on the story.”
Thinking back on your collaborative epic haiku poem, create a visual graph of the school year assessing what engaged you the most. Select the key assignments (10-20) that you believe contributed to your learning this school year. Create a bar graph that visually displays the lessons/units that you found most engaging and/or effective. Create a symbol of your own learning to represent the year and use that on the bar graph itself.
On the X-axis of your bar graph must be the lesson titles. On the Y-axis of your graph, you need to produce a list of words to describe the engagement level of the lesson. Words to describe your engagement level might be anything from “dull” to “exhilarating!” Your choice! If you are using icons or symbols that are not of your own design, you must also submit a Works Cited on a separate document.
This assignment is due Monday, May 22.
Look, there is a time and place for Project Based Learning, but there’s also the time for a simple project. I believe that a perfect way to spend one of those classroom days at the end of the year is on a project that’s focused on reflection and metacognition. As we approach the end of the year, complete with its grade level field trips, carnivals, awards lunches, and promotion practices, it’s important to make every stand-alone day count.
Have kids look back at the year using an academic lens. Have kids acknowledge and create something based on what they’ve accomplished. You’ll find they remember your classroom community even long after their mortarboard hat has been tossed into the air.