Writing an archaeology-related haiku, using a visual prompt
by John Deyab
Special Education Department
Charlestown High School
for Service Learning Project
PreSERVING America’s Past With the Objects of Our History

Objective: Students will write a haiku related to archaeology, using a visual prompt.

Materials: teacher-made haiku checklist, writing paper, pencils, AlphaSmart computers, The Big Dig & The Big Dig at Night by Dan McNichol


  1. [Photo searching with a partner] In pairs, students examine books, perusing and discussing photos. Within five to eight minutes, each student chooses a photo to use as a visual prompt for haiku-writing activity.
  2. [Brain-storming with a partner] With same student pairs, students examine each photo, and brain-storm words suggested by photos (e.g., in a color photo showing male construction workers drilling into concrete, students might write such words as hardhat, concrete, drill, noise, muscles, etc.
  3. [Teacher approval of word lists] Each student pair has a “mini-conference” with teacher or classroom paraprofessional, to ensure words are appropriate, relevant. If students encounter “writer’s block” (or other problems, word retrieval issues, etc.), the teacher or paraprofessional may prod students, asking pointed questions related to photos in order to jar memory, to suggest ideas, words.
  4. [Counting is key!] Teacher creates new student pairings, pairing up student who has good understanding of syllabification, and student who may need assistance. Students count out syllables in each word on students’ word lists.
  5. [Sharing First Drafts] After both students in student pairings count all words on each list, then each student begins to write first draft of haiku, with brain-storming assistance from peer, as needed and requested. Teacher and classroom paraprofessional supervise students, answer questions as needed, and provide input as needed and requested.
  6. [Sharing our first drafts orally] Teacher asks for volunteers to share, orally, first drafts of haikus. If no student volunteers, teacher selects one or two students who have written a first draft that, at first glance, is an appropriate exemplar. (contains correct number of syllables for each line, uses words that accurately reflect photograph’s content, etc.)
  7. [Assign homework] Find a photograph in a newspaper in which student can write a haiku, cut out photograph, and make a list of ten words suggested by photograph. Be prepared to explain to class tomorrow why student found photograph interesting and/or why student chose the photo for activity.

Assessment: Teacher informally assesses students as they work in pairs: brainstorm ideas, come up with words for word lists. Haikus that accurately reflect visual images of student’s chosen photograph and contain correct number of syllables for each line will receive “Passing” grade. Students who continue to work on haikus, develop a final draft, using Microsoft Word with at least one visual image (from Clip Art, image from other software source, etc.) will receive “Outstanding” grade: A +.

Back To John Deyab