EAA Teaching Case Study

Case Study Submissions

Case Study: October 2020

Inspiring Students through Sijo

Name of Case Study Author: Elizabeth Jorgensen

Institution: Arrowhead Union High School

Education Category: High School

Title of the class you are teaching: Creative Writing

Age-level range of your students: 16-18

Locale of the educational institution where you teach: Hartland, Wisconsin

How frequently do you teach about Asia in your classroom? Less than once a month

Theme or title of your lesson: Inspiring Students through Sijo

Title of EAA article, teaching resource essay, or lesson plan “The Sijo: A Window into Korean Culture,” by David McCann (Spring 2010, Vol. 15, No. 1)

View The Sijo article in the EAA Online Archives

Lesson Plan Content

“Sijo is kind of like haiku,” I tell my students. “Whereas haiku is a Japanese form of poetry, sijo is Korean. In haiku, you use 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third. In the sijo, there are groups of syllables in each line; and, in addition to syllable requirements, each line has a purpose.”

Syllable Groupings

Line one: 3, 4, 4, 4

Line two: 3, 4, 4, 4

Line three: 3, 5, 4, 3

Each Line’s Purpose

Line one: introduction

Line two: development

Line three: twist and conclusion. 

Students understand the plot cycle and so I ask them to discuss the purpose of the introduction (line one); they tell me it’s to engage a reader in the topic, to introduce characters, a point of view, or the plot, setting, tone. 

“Line two,” I say, “is like the rising action. It’s where the tension builds. Finally, in line three, the climax arrives in the form of a twist; line three ends with the poem’s conclusion.” 

Once students understand each line’s purpose, I discuss sijo’s syllabic structure. Although haiku asks for a specific number of syllables in each line, sijo requires syllable groupings. We talk about how punctuation, topic, tone or rhythm can be used to distinguish one syllable grouping from another.

Although there is a formula, there is also flexibility. Poets should aim for the specific syllable groupings, but have flexibility (and each line should include between 14 and 16 syllables for a total of 44, 45, or 46 in the poem). Writing sijo is like all art—and although there are rules, it’s acceptable to break the rules. 

I ask, “What’s on your mind? What gives you anxiety? What excites you? What won’t leave your thoughts? What haunts your nightmares? What do you wish and hope for? These are the stories worth writing.”

I encourage students to find a topic that tugs at them, stirs them into unease or excitement. I spur students to focus on expressing an emotion—be that happiness or sadness or anything in between.

Individually, students read and analyze winning sijo poems posted on The Sejong Cultural Society’s webpage. They also read Tap Dancing on the Roof (a book of sijo poems) by Linda Sue Park. Using other sijo poems and poets as inspiration, students consider their own sijo topic. Each student discusses the story he/she wants to tell, the point of that story as well as what he/she might do with the twist. 

Students then write and peer edit (sharing poems with partners and the entire class). I provide the students with feedback; finally, students submit to The Sejong Cultural Society’s competition. 

Maddie Shipshock said, “I saw this writing contest as a difficult challenge I could use to become a better writer. Creative Writing taught me how writing can be an art just like drawing and painting. Writing is a way to express myself and to challenge myself to think outside the box.” 

Maddie received third place in 2017 for her poem, Reach for the Stars.

Reach for the Stars

On the moon, I plant our flag. Slow steps, through light gravity.

Surrounded by millions of stars, just me and the galaxy.

“Come inside, dinner’s ready!” Time to leave my cardboard fantasy.

Outcomes and Student Feedback

To give students an authentic purpose for their writing—and to engage students in the writing process—I design my class around writers’ markets. One of my favorites is The Sejong Cultural Society’s annual sijo competition. Because this poetry competition allows for expression, students write about themselves—or whatever is on their minds; this produces personal, cathartic work that resonates with readers. It allows students a place to process their experiences and emotions.

Austin Snell (first place winner) said, “I never heard of this form of poetry and now it’s one of my favorites. I didn’t do this poem to win the competition; instead, I did the poem to express myself through writing.”

Snell said, “I would love to thank my Aunt Eli who passed away after battling cancer. She was the inspiration for my sijo. She was the kindest and most honest person I will ever know. We knew my aunt’s cancer had come back the same year we got our new dog. My mother was in complete despair. We needed something that would help us feel better. To honor my aunt, we wanted to name our dog something close to Eli. We were going to go with Emily but then finally settled on Emma. My aunt saw our new dog on video chats and she said she was the cutest thing she had seen. When my aunt passed away, we decided to give our dog her middle name (Eli) to honor her. She will always be missed.”

Case Study: July 2020

Using PechaKucha in the Classroom

Editor’s Note: The lead author of the following teaching case study is an undergraduate instructor, but PechaKucha is probably an even more popular digital teaching strategy with high school instructors.

Written by Jeannette Cockroft, Associate Professor of History and Political Science, Schreiner University (Kerrville, Texas)

Coauthored by Cecila Barlow, MFA, Manager of the Center for Print and Digital Production, Schreiner University (Kerrville, Texas)

Photo illustration by Willa Davis. Original image supplied by Shutterstock.com.

View PechaKucha article in the EAA Online Archives

Course: “The History of Modern Asia”

Lesson Plan Content

Pecha-kucha is a presentation format in which twenty slides are each presented for twenty seconds (for a total of six minutes, forty seconds) with no embellishments other than live narration. To design a research project using this presentation style for undergraduate students in my modern East Asian history class, I modified the traditional pecha-kucha structure described by A. Maria Toyoda and combined elements of the digital storytelling outlined by Samantha Morra to create a multi-phased research project. Each step represents a milestone in the development of the final product and is coupled with hard deadlines designed to keep students focused and on track to complete the project by the end of a fourteen-week semester.

Five steps comprise the process. The first is the choice of topic; the second, a research paper that provides the historical context and significance of the topic as well as factual material such as the who, where, when, why, and how of the topic. The research paper allows the student to explore a subject of interest beyond the course syllabus and guides the choice of images. This assignment also allows for the assessment of students’ writing and research skills, which is one of the student learning outcomes my department strives to develop. Step three occurs once the professor has evaluated the paper; it may then be rewritten so that the student can clarify his/her understanding of the material or adjust the emphasis of the research. The concern here is that the topic chosen is broad enough to facilitate the search for images and at the same time, focused enough to be effectively explored in a meaningful way within the allotted six minutes and forty seconds. Step four is a story circle, during which each student presents a rough draft of his/her the pecha-kucha. This includes all twenty slides as well as preliminary script for critique by both fellow classmates and the instructor. Several rubrics which can be modified for this project are available for the evaluation of both the design and content of the pecha-kuchas (https://tinyurl.com/yxokwu6x and https://tinyurl.com/y5glwtds)

Although the original pecha-kucha format emphasizes synchronous, live narration, this project requires students to provide voice over narration of their slides in the allotted twenty seconds per slide, thus allowing for the assessment of students’ oral presentation skills. 

PowerPoint can used for the creation of the creation of the slide show and several screen recording programs are available to record the audio. Screencast-o-matic can be downloaded onto personal computers; the basic service is free and other options are available by subscription. QuickTime is available on all Macintosh computers and works well for the project. Camtasia also works well and provides a 30-day free trial. However, many educational institutions often have this available. Regardless of the screen recording software used, the basic process of assembling the pecha-kucha is the same. The slides are loaded in PowerPoint and the program is set on presentation mode. The student then speaks into a microphone to record the narration. Snowball microphones work best to eliminate extraneous noise. Other tips to avoid background noise include turning off the air conditioning or fans and getting as far away as possible from children and pets.

Outcomes and Student Feedback

The challenge of this pecha-kucha project is for students to use both the PowerPoint and screen recording software to create one, integrated file. To do this, students must practice the script several times to ensure that the narration of each slide is 20 seconds. Students often prefer to cheat by using a movie editing software that does not require them to practice timing the script and that may allow more than 20 seconds of narration per slide. Cheating as well as the temptation to cut corners on practice can be minimized by deducting points in the rubric for failing to use the appropriate software. 

I have used this project in several sections of Modern Asian History over the past six years. Students have produced projects dealing with such diverse topics as Japan and Comfort Women; the White Lotus Rebellion and the editorial cartoons of the Russo-Japanese War. Despite a natural student proclivity for procrastination, course evaluations and student comments indicate that students value the opportunity to explore a topic not discussed in class and enjoy presenting their research in a novel, digital format.


CALL FOR CASE STUDIES: Middle School, High School, and Undergraduate Instructors

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