I introduce my Tanka Poetry Flipchart that discusses goals, ways to measure our progress towards the goal via rubrics, description of Tanka poetry, and samples of tanka poetry. Since students are aware of many poetic devices at this point in the poetry unit, the flipchart is a brief overview. At this point, students are accustomed to writing poetry and eager to explore another form of poetry. Just like poetry has rhythmic qualities, so do learning habits. Once I start the Poetry Unit, students are keeping the rhythmic pace of poetry writing using the same basic structure presented in earlier units, but changing the form of the poems they are writing. Once this is established, poetry writing becomes more about the content and less about the structure.
Once I complete the activity for assessing student prior knowledge from the flip chart, I begin to fill the gaps so students have foundational knowledge that is supported by research, not solely from past experiences. Establishing background information together is essential to clarify any misconceptions students might have from their previous experiences. Therefore, a basic understanding of the learning content is established.
Students are paired to collaborate on creating a Tanka Poem. I provide a Tanka Template to students to facilitate instruction. I facilitate as needed. Mostly, I listen on students' creative conversations. Students are able to communicate with one another towards a common goal. Cooperative learning has to be developed through trial and error. This requires frequent practice.
I ask students to perform the more rigorous task of "creating" their own poem. As noted on the hierarchy of Bloom's Taxonomy, creating uses higher order thinking processes. There is much more rigor to creating a poem than merely remembering, understanding, or applying what they learn from this type of poetry. Creating requires students to synthesize information, generate hypotheses, and develop new ideas that is relevant to them. Thus, students are deeply immersed in understanding how words and structure of poetry can add meaning and rhythm.
As students their Tanka poetry reading, they were aware of the stressed and unstressed syllables as their voices became part of the rhythmic quality of the Clerihew poetry. Students were critiqued in the themes they presented and others gave suggestions and ideas s they gave feedback to one another's poem. This interaction is an interactive learning experience for all students, as they develop effective oral language skills.
Feedback can be effective when used to discuss specific or targeted skills. In this case, feedback was given for the quality of the poem and its delivery using a Tanka: Haiku Rubric. The rubric helps focus the discussion on selected topics. In order for students to effectively give each other feedback, a supportive classroom climate must be established. This requires much modeling and practice on social skills that focus on being respectful when communicating to others.