To get the students thinking about the purpose of figurative language, I will tell the students I am thinking of becoming a song writer and have written a song I am going to send to a production company to see if they will publish it. However, I want them to read through the song lyrics first and tell me what they think.
In reality, I have taken the popular song, "Firework" by Katy Perry and rewritten it literally. When written literally, the song is boring, is difficult to relate to or imagine.
As the students read it, I will ask them for their honest opinions. Do they think it could work as a song? Why or why not? I am hoping this will elicit some responses about how the song is boring and not fun to listen to. It doesn't have catchy phrases in it and loses it's ability to get stuck in your head.
I will then tell the kids this is actually a song that they all know and has been #1 on the pop charts for multiple weeks. The students will read the song and react and most likely argue they have never heard of the song. I will tell them I actually rewrote the song to demonstrate the importance language, particularly figurative language plays a role in writing. I will then display the lyrics to the song and play a short clip of the song. I will ask them how the use of figurative language enhances the experience of the listener.
I will use this as a discussion to open our lesson on the purpose and impact of using figurative language in text.
We have been working with figurative language over the course of the last couple of weeks. I will use this time, before going into analyzing in text, help the students refresh their skills and knowledge by sorting some examples into categories.
I will provide the students with an envelope that includes 36 examples. The students are to sort these examples into 8 categories. (Similes, Metaphors, Alliteration, Allusion, Onomatopoeia, Hyperbole, Personification, and Idioms) They are not divided equally and one way to differentiate would be to provide the struggling groups with the correct number for each type. This will help them focus on analyzing the definition.
I am going to have the students work within their mixed ability groups to analyze the figurative language pieces. This will give them the gradual release needed with the shift to the Common Core, but also allow for some scaffolding and support. As the students are working, I will be circulating, monitoring, reteaching, and providing guidance as needed. I will encourage ALL students to refer back to their definitions for the activity.
Once the students have completed their sort, I will have them walk around to assess the work of their peers. To do this, I will have the groups switch in order of their group number. I will have 1 go to 2, 2 go to three and so on. I will not do this all 8 times, but most likely two times so the students can see what their peers have.
Next, I will display the correct answers and have them correct their piles. I will use this as an assessment for readiness to move on to analyze the impact on text.
To take the students to the next step of analyzing the impact it has on text, the students need to be able to identify it within the text. I will pass out the passage titled "Princess Penelope". I will use this passage to model how I am locating the different forms of figurative language. This will be more guided than a complete model. I will read the story aloud first, without stopping. Then, I will read it again, modeling how I am looking for figurative language. I will elicit student responses to help me out.
Now it's their turn! I will provide the students with their own story to work with, doing the exact same skill. The students can use my example and their definitions but it is important they struggle through this or they will not be able to do it with more complex text. As they are working, I will monitor their progress. Have the students do a Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up to share their work and their responses. This will get not only get the students up and moving, but also allow them to check their work against their peers.
Now it is time to take the task to their text! We have been studying the novel Seedfolks. This text is rich in figurative language. The students are familiar with the story so we can focus on the skill of analyzing the text for the impact the figurative language has on the story.
First, I will have the students take out their novels and open up to the character of Sam. I chose this character because this specific section of the book uses a variety of figurative language to really help us understand Sam and imagine the impact the garden is having on this very neglected part of Cleveland.
I am going to ask the students to reread the chapter aloud with their groups and try to identify and analyze the figurative language used in this chapter.
I will allow the students time to work in their groups. As they are working, I will circulate through the groups to check for understanding, provide guidance and support as needed. Again, I want the students to feel that struggle with this activity. I will support by going over definitions or allowing them to use their definitions, but they need to struggle. Even if in the 10 minutes they only find one example, that is a start and they did it on their own!
Once the time is up, I will call the class together and switch the purpose of the conversation to WHY the author included the forms of figurative language in the text? What impact did it have on our understanding of the story and this particular character? I want the students to understand the images it creates for a reader as well as the connections we are able to make with the story because of the language used. I also want them to see the humor and lightheartedness the character Sam brings to the story. He is a guy who has an extremely serious and important role in world politics and yet he brings a simplicity of life to the garden and we get that feeling because of the language the author has chosen to use in this section.
To help the students process their learning and to assess their understanding, I will have them complete a Closure Slip.