Posts Tagged With: high school

Renga – The Ancestor of Haiku

Since September, my World Literature class has been working its way through the ages of literature, starting at around 3000 BC with The Epic of Gilgamesh.  It is now December and we find ourselves reading the poetry of 16th and 17th century Japanese poets Moritake and Matsuo Basho.

Since we research every author we read, we have discovered that the Haiku form of poetry is actually a shortened version of the Renga form.

Renga is a cooperative form of poetry writing – one person writes a stanza of 3 lines with syllable counts of 5, 7 and 5, and then a different poet replies with a 2-line stanza of 7 and 7 syllables.  Historically, this would then be repeated, sometimes reaching hundreds of lines in length.

As homework, I assigned my class the task of writing a haiku.  When I was grading them, it suddenly hit me that I should be responding in renga form.

I was so delighted with the results that I just had to share them here:

by Erin Schmidt

Buzzing mosquito
Have you met my two hands?
Death can be sudden

My final meal; suddenly
Hands appear.  Ah, life was sweet.

Southern California Fires of December, 2017
by Michael Capparelli

The snowflake descends
Inhaled, it infects my lungs
Not snow, it is ash

L.A. fires burn but this is
Not what’s meant by “White Christmas”


The Test
by Erin Schmidt

Tears stream down their face
A test they have not studied for
Still they hope they’ll pass

Teacher smiles, vindicated
They should have listened in class!

Winter Time In California
by Darynne Sato

Songs of snow falling
I look out of the window
The sun is shining

Woes of Californians
Never get Snow Days off school

Green Tea
By Lizzy Diaz

Green tea is the best
It eases my mind from stress
Green tea is my life

The British know – there’s no cure
Like a proper cup of tea

by Elijah Olmos

World Literature
Every Tuesday and Thursday
Eternal torture

(Student added the marginal note: “Sarcastic, of course”)

Sarcastic student’s poem
Requires a grade of F… psyche!

Extra Credit
by Lizzy Diaz

I need to write this
So I can get my grade up
Please help me through this

Dear, your wish is my command
Here’s 5 points extra credit

by Lizzy Diaz

Mrs S is cool
She lets me turn in late work
Unlike Mrs R

Mrs R, the expert teacher
Perhaps I should grade harder

by Lizzy Diaz

French fries are so good
But they go right to my thighs
Then I want to cry

So sad that potato with
Oil and heat should make you cry

by Jed Shank

Cold winter is here
I feel something on my back
Pain from father’s fist

Lazy no-good son sits by fire
I must rouse him back to life

Soldier of Death
by Jed Shank

A shimmering blade
Honor, courage, loyalty
Now covered in blood

The glory of war requires
No shrinking from dealing death

Growing Up
by Jed Shank

A leaf falls from tree
Seeking out new adventure
Shattered on the dirt

They told me that I must fly
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

by Jed Shank

Embraced in warm arms
A dimming sense of relief
Never not alone

How soon they outgrow and leave
The circle of a mother’s arms

by Jed Shank

Folding brother’s clothes
Not sure whose clothes are whose
Now they are all mine

He may scold and cry but he
Can’t argue with possession

by Daniel Reilly

When winds do whisper
When words are carving rivers
The pages will turn

Canyons cut through stone by verse
Pen is mightier than sword

by Sandis Wightman

I don’t like poems
I don’t like reading poems
Or writing poems

Student complains of writing
But I have to read them all

Marital Bliss
by Michael Capparelli

She talks on and on
Her words destroy my small ears
My wife calls to me

My husband gazes into space
He must be both deaf and dumb

by Shay Wilderman

So roses are red
Violets are blue, yet
Pine trees are festive

Festive, yes, and it would be hard
To decorate a flower

Categories: Education, Literature | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

World Lit – What Abeka Missed

I’m teaching World Literature to high schoolers this year.  I’ve never done World Lit., so I’m really enjoying it.

We’re using Abeka’s textbook, because it is less distressing than any of the other textbooks I reviewed for the subject.  Apparently, to American publishers, “World Lit” means “American and British Lit with a token Foreign Author thrown in every six weeks or so.”

Balderdash, I say.

So we’re using the textbook as more of a guideline.  Like the Pirate Code.

At any rate, it’s been good so far.  Granted, we had to start in Chapter 11, because that’s when the course finally gets around to starting at the chronological beginning, but the content is pretty darned good.

That is, until you get to the end of Chapter 13 (Roman Times).  That chapter ends with an excerpt from Histories and Annals by Tacitus, which was written in Rome around 110-115 AD.  Chapter 14 (The Middle Ages) starts with an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy, which was written in Italy from 1308-1320 AD.

So according to Abeka, nothing was written, in the entire world, between 110 and 1320 AD.

So we had to fix that.  Here’s a photo of the timeline we put together on the board.  It doesn’t have everything on it that we discussed, but it does at least have some major political events and references to a few pieces of literature.  It’s a stab in the right direction anyway.

Timeline - What A Beka Missed in the Middle Ages.JPGLuckily all this literature is old enough that I was able to find copies of it online and send the students home with a stack of handouts to read.

I’m fuming, however, about the fact that I had never heard of this stuff, other than Beowulf and Everyman and The Song of Roland, considering I was a Lit Major in college.  World Lit was not a requirement back in the day.  Next year I’m going back to finish my degree and boy howdy, Multicultural Lit is one of the first courses I aim to take!

Because for one thing, I’m probably doing most of the homework this year as I plan my lessons…. 🙂


Categories: Education, Homeschooling, Literature | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

“And then she slugged me…”


For the last writing assignment of the year for my twice-weekly Comp/Lit class, I assigned this prompt, which comes from the book Unjournaling by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston:

“Write a paragraph that starts with this sentence: Why don’t you learn how to talk to a rooster? and ends with this one: She slugged me.

This has made for some highly enjoyable grading.  In fact, I have enjoyed reading the responses so much I may just make this an end-of-the-year tradition.  Out of all of them, though, my favorite was the last one I corrected, turned in late by the one student who was often late turning in homework.  She is highly dyslexic and the administration wasn’t even sure she should be in my class.  However, I had already had her in my Classical Conversations class the year before and knew how brilliant she is despite her struggles with writing, so I agreed to have her included in the class.

All that to say, not only do I love this piece for its humor, and for the fact that she wove the sentences together in a less-than-direct manner, but also because this is what a dyslexic, who last year struggled with complete sentences, can do when given a chance (and, I might add, a private tutor, with whom she worked on the side all year).

“Why don’t you learn how to talk to a rooster?” Arnold, I hoped, joked. We were sitting in his living room looking at the classes to take when he made his outrageous comment. When I explained to him that I was in the middle of deciding which language to take, either Japanese or Spanish, that is when Arnold thought of the rooster language.  Mainly, I think, so that he could volunteer me to go to his uncle’s farm this summer and not him.  When he saw that I was not convinced he set out to explain why his made up language was better.

“First off, you only want Japanese because you and your cousin are going to Japan in the summer,” he concluded.

“And what’s wrong with that?” I interjected.

“Nothing, but it’s hard and you’ll need more time to really retain it and you are way too lazy and busy to do that well.”

“I am not!” I yelled like a little kid. “But I do see your point.  And besides, my cousin does speak Japanese fluently and did say she would love to translate for me.  So that leaves Spanish?”

“Well, first off, don’t you speak Spanish effortlessly?” Arnold reminded me.

“Well yes, but…”

“And didn’t you want to really work for your grade and gain something, not just breeze through it like art last year, where you complained the whole time that you were bored?” he lectured.

“Okay, okay, you are right, as always,” I conceded.

“Okay, so rooster it is!” he shouted joyfully.

“No… I have another idea…”

The next day I sat in Latin class, not because that was my idea but because French was all booked and when I told my teacher it was a dead language, she, who must have heard that a lot, slugged me.

Categories: Education, Homeschooling, Learning Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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