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Digital Haiku


Digital Haiku

 This is an interdisciplinary lesso
n inspired by 17th century Japanese poet, Matsuo Bashō, and his quest to capture a sense of sacred place through words and images.  Students use digital photography and simple editing software to create images from nature, compose haiku, and combine text and image into a multimedia presentation.

     A brief journey and discussion of World Heritage sites and Japanese National Treasures provides an entry into the Japanese culture and their appreciation of nature. Through photography and haiku, students explore the relationship of image and words to find the sacred in the mundane.  

From Digital Haiku 2013

Note: Thanks to Honor Moorman for her contribution of the mentoring text activity.

Week 1

Day 1 

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5



Introduction to Bashō, his haiku and narrative writing, the concept sacred spaces

Use of digital camera

Field Trip to Botanical Center or other place in nature

Upload images

Photo editing tools

Photo editing tools continued





Introduction  PP and discussion – background of Bashō, Japan’s national treasures, sacred spaces, images and haiku

Tips and Tricks Digital Photography Power Point


Intro Photography PP- show/discuss

-       Framing a shot

-       Eye sweep

-       Mystery objects

-       Flash

-       Setting image size

-       Resolution/quality

-       Capturing the moment

Clear memory cards.


Take off date stamps.


Practice framing shots, take images, delete


Examples of photos on and using haiku tag


In small groups students move about a botanical center or other place in nature and capture images and words

Students upload their images to a network or web application


Web applications:



Introduce Creative Commons


Photo editing:
Microsoft Photo Editor

Adobe Photo Elements

other applications


optimize/compress for screen

Note: For this project students will not manipulate the image beyond cropping and rotating


Organize and select image for haiku


Rename images.









Bashō Introduction Power Point -

Digital cameras

Introduction to Digital Photography Power Point

Digital camera

Small notebooks


chaperone schedule and directions sheets

Digital cameras and cables or card readers.


Photo editing software



Need to Do/Prep


Assess digital camera inventory-

Prepare introductory PP and materials about Bashō

Check camera batteries



If possible, take extra cameras and batteries.


Review: field trip procedures (district/campus permission, permission slips, chaperones, reservations, bus/travel arrangements and reservations, fees, etc.)


Begin field trip preparation as far as possible in advance.  Most districts require a minimum of two weeks.


schedule computers


familarize yourself with the software

prepare instruction resources (worksheets or webpage)



schedule computers







Our school is fortunate to have a class set of cameras. However, I encourage students to use their own cameras.  Inventory how many cameras are needed.  Optimal is 1:1, but students can share.  They have to keep track of shots if shared.

Note:  While most students in the class had their own camera, several did not remember to bring them the day of the field trip.  School cameras filled in needs. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to having students use their own cameras. 


Consider having extra sets of hands to assist students with the settings.  Use students to build a “Help Desk” or “Tech Support”.


Set cameras to high resolution or high quality, the appropriate size for printing. If the product will be web/screen based only then set the cameras at a lower resolution.


Ask students to note how many images they will be able to take with the size of the memory card and the settings.  They should be able to take a minimum of 24 images.

Set due date for the permission slips a week in advance.


Each chaperone a canvas bag with extra click pens or pencils, AA bateries, a list of the students in their group, contact cell phones for the leader and other chaperones, the schedule for the day, and overview of the project and the day’s activities.


Sample field trip schedule



Using a web application instead of local networks gives students access to images from any computer with internet.


Check which applications are available within the schools fire wall.


Learn to use the applications before working with students.


Review settings for Creative Commons.


*This segment of the lesson could possibly be done in one day, but realistically most students will need a full day in addition to instruction.  It will depend on time used to direct teach.  Allow for at least 30 minutes for students to work with their images.

Remind students to bring cables and batteries for their cameras.


Student Homework

Check for digital cameras. Bring to next class.


?Bring signed permission slips?



Locate cables and batteries for cameras. Bring to class.



Week 2

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10



Mentor Text



Putting It All Together

text and image

Finish and Self Evaluate





Students work in groups of 2 or 3 to examine the relationship between text and image and image and text using multiple translations of Bashō’s frog haiku and images of frogs.




Students write variations of their haiku


Ask them first to write 3, then 5, and then 10.  Once they have 10 they consult and select the best poem for the image.



Students work independently at computers to produce several files formats of their poem and image.


Consider participating in the National Day of Writing.

Students may need additional time to finish the files and to self-evaluate.





Mentor Text

frog images
frog text cards

sensei reading haiku



Putting It All Together worksheet



Need to Do/Prep


Read through “Mentor Text”

Make frog image cards

Make cards with frog haiku

copy haiku writing worksheet 
(Honor Moorman)

schedule computers

schedule computers


make copies

Putting It All Together worksheet

haiku writing worksheet



schedule computers


make copies of the self-evaluation









If time, student can begin to write their haiku, based on the photograph that they selected and finish for homework.


Computers are not needed for this activity.




These directions have students save to a distrcit server. Our students will move to saving their work in Google Aps.


Students created several versions of their work, each had a specific purpose.  They created a high resolution version to print and a low version that we could display on the class digital gallery.  Another option was to create a word document and submit their digital haiku for the National Day of Writing, usually held near the end of October. National Day of Writing





Student Homework

Write haiku- bring to next class







102 Haiku in Translation: The heart of Bashō, Buson and Issa. Translated by Takafumi Saito and Willima R. Nelson. BookSurge, 2006.

“Approach to Haiku” and “Basic Principles”, Yasuda . Japanese Aesthetics and Culture, edited by Nancy G. Hume, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995.

The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku. William J. Higginson with Penny Harter. Kodansha International. Tokyo, 1985.

The Narrow Road to Oku.Matsuo Bashō. Translated by Donald Keene. Kodansha International. Tokyo, 1996.

Ordinarily Sacred, Lynda Sexson. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesvill and London, 1992.

Matsuo Bashōōs-trail/howard-norman-text.html

February 2008 National Geographic documents travelling part of Bashō's trail.ō-frog.htm

30 translations of the frog poem    

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