There are many deer.
Peaceful trees are everywhere.
Green as I can see.
– written by North Campus fifth graders Shivum, Sam, and Peking University student James
When is the last time you thought about the trees? With all the noise and commotion in our daily lives, it's rare that we get the opportunity to really notice our surroundings or react fully to the news or events in our world. There is so much we may miss, so teaching students how to stop, slow down, and really notice what is happening around them is crucial in their understanding of how best to react.
After winning the Mary Houston Griffin Award last year with my project "Using Haiku to Heal," it has been my mission to make time with students for slowing down and writing our observations and feelings. With young students, giving them a small "container" to use for their thoughts helps to provide a clear objective, so teaching about Japanese haiku and making time to write haiku has been an invaluable way to create some quiet among the commotion.
The above haiku was written by a group of fifth graders who spent some time exploring the Northbound Trail on the North Campus this fall. After visiting author and poet Betsy Snyder shared her process with writing poetry – and especially haiku – at both campuses in October, students have been inspired to write in the spaces and moments we've tried to create for them. Students in grades 3-5 have been writing in haiku journals throughout the year, either to compile their personal thoughts or to respond to a given prompt ("What does peace mean to you?").