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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

US 2012 Launch Grant Recipients Reflecting on Haiku

For me the Haiku platform has been a great choice for all my class websites. It is very user friendly for both me and my students. I am not a lover of textbooks and Haiku allows me to have all my documents, videos, links, and audios organized under one umbrella. It is also great to be able to use the Discussion tab as a blog and the Wikisites for class projects. I also ask students to turn in a lot of his assignments in the Dropbox. As we work on a possible Spanish Department Exchange Program for next year, I can see that having a website for the trip will be very useful. I am now taking an online course about creating your own online class and it uses the Haiku platform as well, so it has been very easy for me to start working on all my assignments and see it from the perspective of a student.

- Dr. Rosario Sánchez Gómez

Haiku was a useful platform for each of my courses as a central (and green) location for readings, syllabi, assignments, and language arts exercises. It was also a terrific tool when school was unexpectedly cancelled, everyone had done a key reading, and we all wanted to keep momentum going with an online discussion before school resumed. (In that event I'd just add a new page named for the reading, post some questions, and let the kids take the discussion from there.)

By far the best aspect of Haiku, though, was the way it allowed students to communicate in my senior writing workshop, True Stories and the Personal Essay. I designed an easily navigable Feedback Forum where every student had his own page. There five student writers each week would post their work for peer review and commentary before the live writing workshop during long block. This kind of at-home connecting made in-person discussions so much more thoughtful and efficient, and it got the students talking exponentially more to each other rather than through me. Haiku also allowed me to post timely polls that were useful to me for course redesign (e.g. What was the most enjoyable reading in this unit?) and to the students for contest submissions (e.g. Which of Carly's six essays would you rate the best?). We even used Haiku for brainstorming. One week the theme of the essay assignment was "pettiness," and the students had fun gearing up for it by consulting a class-constructed Haiku list of "Hateful Things."

I had an equally awesome time revising and augmenting my wiki ( for my senior Speechwriting and Public Speaking elective. On that site I have built a master page I covet and often direct the kids to called "Worthwhile Links," with professional examples of contemporary and historic speeches from live political events and arts ceremonies and commencement addresses to standout film clips and TED talks and Ignite presentations I've encountered over the years. I also made a page for each of the nine speech genres assigned (Storytelling Speeches, Call to Action Speeches, Speeches to Inform, Tributes, etc.), and on each genre page I embedded YouTube widgets featuring the seniors delivering that kind of original work live, on a Speech Day we'd held during the weekly long blocks. Using the wiki, peers would revisit the speech (and speakers would self-evaluate) before clicking over to comment on a Haiku Feedback Forum set up much the same way as the True Stories Feedback Forum worked. For the speechwriting elective, though, I ran Haiku polls that tended to follow up on the speech content (e.g. How many of you have cooked with kale since Alicia's speech?). For some reason my Haiku page for the Speechwriting class appears to have vaporized, though, so unless you can help me solve that mystery (?help!), you won't be getting a screenshot of that.

-Allison Kornet

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