Introduction to Figurative Language

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Students will be able to identify and analyze figurative language and word choice by reading and analyzing Emerson's "Self-Reliance."

Big Idea

Word choice matters--analyzing how figurative language and word choice impact tone and meaning in "Self-Reliance."

Do Now: "Self-Reliance" Review

5 minutes

We start today by reviewing our previous lesson. I ask students to list the key ideas we encountered in our first reading of "Self-Reliance."

Students are able to quickly recall the text, likely thanks to their extensive notes from our class discussion.

"Rely on yourself." Yes, good use of the title.

"Trust your own thoughts like great thinkers do." Yes, where did that come from?

"Paragraph one, where he talks about how we ignore our thoughts because they are our own." Yes!

We're in good shape and ready for more reading.

Emerson's "Self-Reliance"

20 minutes

We continue our reading using the same read-write-share strategy referenced here. As on our previous day, we only work with a few paragraphs, moving slowly to avoid frustration. Students again struggle with vocabulary, but our rounds of discussion help us achieve understanding. I see students scribbling extra notes in their text margins, a good strategy which will help them in future analysis.

Determining Word Meaning--Figurative Language

20 minutes

Our daily limit of reading reached, we shift over to skill study for the day. I introduce the target, explaining that the reading for information and reading literature standards are very similar. The CCSS ask students to understand word meaning even when figurative language and secondary meanings are used, and students should be able to explain how word choice impacts tone and meaning.

Tone causes some confusion in the class; what is it? I explain that tone is like the mood or emotion of the piece. Is it harsh toward the subject? Does it create anger in us as readers? Or does it create a sense of peace and contentment? Words have the power to do this. Heads nod.

Since we are already analyzing word choice in our discussions, looking up word meanings and considering the overall meaning of the paragraphs we read, we focus today on figurative language. We review key tricks I know they will encounter in our transcendental texts, and I offer examples and ask for more examples of each. Students studied figurative language extensively in their previous English class, so review is smooth.

To end our day, we begin to apply the skill to our reading. I ask students to identify one figurative language trick in what we have read from Emerson so far. After 3 minutes to search, I call on students to share what they found. Students are able to identify figurative language in the text but struggle to apply the correct terms, mislabeling, for example, personification as metaphor.

More practice will be needed.