Publishing Haiku Poems with Avid Cinema

Activity Overview: 

As part of a lesson on descriptive writing, students write haiku poems to create strong visual images by selecting specific words. Pictures and music are selected to enhance the mood of the poem. Students work in groups to create an Avid Cinema movie including voice narration of poems with photo music in the background.

Students will use spoken, written and visual language to communicate effectively.  The students learn the characteristics of a Haiku poem and are able to transfer their knowledge into a Haiku poem they individually compose. Technology will be used as a tool to showcase student writing.

As part of a lesson on descriptive writing, students write haiku poems to create strong visual images by selecting specific words. Pictures and music are selected to enhance the mood of the poem. Students work in groups to create an Avid Cinema movie including voice narration of poems with photo and music background.


(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)


Curriculum Standards from

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators from

Students read sample Haiku poems. Write original Haiku poems using strong descriptive language.

English Language Arts: 4, 6, 12


Students search a variety of sources to locate the best photo image to illustrate the Haiku poem. (Internet multi-media sources; photographs from texts scanned and saved to network document folders; digital camera images.)

English Language Arts: 6, 8

Grades 9-12: 6, 7, 8

Present a variety of instrumental selections to demonstrate the wide variety of moods created with background music. (Invite a music teacher to help with this activity.)

English Language Arts: 6, 8, 12

Grades 9-12: 6, 8

Demonstrate the Avid Cinema program.

English Language Arts: 4, 6, 8, 11, 12

Grades 9-12: 6

Class members decide the order of presentation and create a movie including each student's reading of his/her poem while music and photograph play in the background.

English/Language Arts: 8, 11, 12

Grades 9-12: 6, 8, 10

Post the video to the English Class Web page if possible.

English Language Arts 8, 11

Grades 9-12: 7, 10


Microsoft Word. Microsoft., Available:
Avid Cinema for Macintosh. Available:
Scanning software (Photo Deluxe, ColorSnap)

Macintosh Computer with A-V card (G3 or iMac will work). 
Laser projector helpful to display final product
Scanner helpful for locating photographs

Web sites: This online help site is very helpful in solving problems that students can't fix with the help features in the program. This site provided many digital photographs we found useful in our final product.

My classroom has five computers with Internet access; two of these computers have Avid Cinema installed. We used all the computers to locate photographs on line. My class of nine students worked at two stations to create the Avid Cinema documents then imported one movie into the second one creating a final document with all students' work in one file.

Design a rubric that promotes

  • strong visual images in the Haiku itself and effective narration on the video

  • specific requirements for the movie

  • effective photo selection, appropriate music for the mood of the piece

  • continuity of titles and transitions between the poems

  • effective collaboration procedures among the students while working in groups

I planned these requirements ahead of time, then let the students help create a rubric that worked toward this end. We wrote out these criteria together before beginning to create the movie.

English I Rubric
Haiku Video Project

How should we assess this activity?

Content: The Haiku poem

Does it follow the Haiku form?




Does it make sense in life?




Does it create a strong image?








Use of the Avid Cinema program

Does emotion show in the movie?




Does everything flow smoothly?




Do text, music, audio and image work together?








Working in groups




Did you get along?




Did you help each other?




Did you pay attention to the lesson?




Did you do your fair share?




Did you use your time wisely?




Julie Carter: English instructor at Jennings High School, Jennings, Kansas School: Home

Kay Brown: Music instructor at Jennings High School, Jennings, Kansas School: 

English I includes a study of literature, language, composition, vocabulary and speaking skills. During the second nine-weeks, we work with descriptive writing. The Haiku poem is an additional activity we occasionally use as part of this unit. Due to the brevity of a Haiku poem, the writer must use very vivid language to create a strong word picture in so few syllables. I am constantly looking for additional ways to create a wider audience for student work that goes beyond the classroom- or just the teacher as reader. The idea for Avid Cinema was actually an inspiration that came to me in the middle of the project. We actually did two of the poems this way in the fall, but I saved the in-class demonstration of the poem and the group project for the day of the taping. (Talk about living dangerously!)

This entire process from writing the poem, to locating the music and images, and creating the video would probably take 8-10 days with our 45 minute class periods. We probably spent

2 days writing the poems
1 day discussing mood and music with our music instructor
1 day locating the music each student wanted to use
1-2 days locating photographs
3-4 class periods making the video
1 day celebrating as we invited Mrs. Brown, our administrator and other classes in to view the finished product.

This is the first year to use Avid Cinema in my classroom. This was the third class I have taught the software to this year. Each time my presentation grows more effective. These are the youngest students I've used Avid with so far and they did a great job. 

The "spin-off" learning that takes place when we do a project like this always amazes me. I didn't anticipate the foray into Internet images before we began. In fact I was surprised at the wide variety of technological experiences that the project included. (Saving images from the Internet, scanning images, using the digital camera, plus "plain old" word-processing)

We spent more time discussing mood than I anticipated. The students began to notice music more on television and in movies as a result.

Different students emerged as group leaders than I expected; the students worked better together than I anticipated--but then their sense of purpose was very great.

Some students were shy about recording their own voice to be part of the movie, yet they did a good job. They patiently recorded as many times as needed to get a good final reading and occasionally coached each other on good technique. We even discussed how to evoke mood with a reader's voice.

This group has a reputation among some staff members as being less than productive. They can be a substitute's nightmare. They did a great job with this assignment, giving credibility to my belief that all students can learn and be productive when we find the right avenue to reach them. Technology often can be a tool to do this.

Teachers need to be willing to be risk-takers. We expect this of our students; we should be willing to do it ourselves. Venturing into a project that takes so much time can be risky; attempting tasks with students that we are only learning ourselves can be risky. The taking of these risks is usually the place that true learning takes place. The reminder that it isn't how much we cover, but how well students learn what we teach is an important one. An activity such as this one can cross curriculum lines, can integrate the various areas of the language arts while incorporating technology, may facilitate working collaboratively and may even generate fun for students while they complete it.

Technology Resources:
We have set up a workstation to run this program with the intent to make one more skill available to our students and to use the program as a means to enhance public relations with the community. The student presentations we have done with it have been very impressive. It is easy to learn and creates a great final product. The finished product can be saved to disk or the server, posted on the Internet, or exported to video.

School Background Information:

  • Jennings, Kansas is a farming community with an approximate population of 180. Being a town of Czechoslovakian descent, our theme is "Czech Us Out." Jennings has K-12 educational services and several businesses, including a local restaurant, a grocery store, and two grain elevators. 

  • Jennings High School is home to 41 students. All of the students (100%) enrolled in Jennings High School are Caucasian. 

Teaching Strategy:
I am always looking for new ways to have students use language well and to share their work with a variety of audiences.

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity
(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Principles of Learning:
This learning activity was truly one of Direct Experience for the students. They were all involved individually in the advance work writing the poems, and locating the pictures and music ahead of time. The production of the video was certainly a Compelling Situation. I watched the students work together in whole group discussion deciding how to put the individual works together and also in a small group setting as each student put his/her work into the program.

Information Processing:
Evaluation was going on continually as they decided what transitions to use or whether the narration was read clearly enough to use as a final product. The students remembered after lunch that they still needed credits at the end. Before we shared the final product with other students and teachers the next day, several students came in and tweaked the final product one more time. (On their own time!)


Trouble Shooting (by the teacher during the presentation); Operation of EquipmentEthics (we discussed before the day of taping the ethics of using copyrighted material in our production); www sources and Word Processing. As I think about the project, I can see that using this technology opened up a whole new way of thinking about creativity for these students.

Student Characteristics:
This age group and this set of students required more guidance from me in terms of setting up the format of the finished product. By the time we actually made the video, they had a very good idea in their minds of what the finished product should look like. This advance preparation made the process go much smoother. This is a good lesson for me to remember!

How the Activity Has Evolved Over Time:
The descriptive writing activity evolved from a simple writing assignment, to publishing poems in the school newsletter to creating a video, to inviting guests into our classroom to view the finished product. Quite an evolution!

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology