What an Idiom

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SWBAT define and use a variety of popular idioms

Big Idea

Idioms represent shared cultural experiences...and they are tons of fun!

Latin Roots Warm Up: Ag, Am

10 minutes

This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day.  The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.

Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard.  Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means.  After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.

The students compile these daily activities in their class journals.  After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.

The Task: Creating the Idiom Poster

20 minutes

Today was one of those days when I needed a one-day, stand-alone lesson.  Those days happen to all of us; in this case, I finished a unit yesterday and a big snowstorm was on the way.  Since I knew we were likely to be out for the next day or two, I wanted to hold off on a new unit.  This, for me, is the perfect time to attack the Language standards.

This lesson focuses on a set of idioms that I chose because of their frequency of use.  Idioms are fun and easy to teach because they are colorful bits of language that often have unexpected origins.  Another reason I like to teach idioms is because I use them a lot, and my students will ask about them.  For example, they really DON'T understand why someone would beat a dead horse (Gross!  Cruel!)

I kick off the lesson by asking them what an idiom is.  There was one person in each of my classes (of 27) who could provide a decent definition.  Then, I ask them to just call out some idioms.  In both classes, we talked about why there are horses in more than a few idioms.  That is a great springboard to talk about the role of culture in language.  

Then, I introduce the task and the slide.  Each student will be assigned an idiom that he or she has to "teach" -- the assignment is to create a poster featuring the idiom; a drawing of what it SEEMS to mean; a definition of what it really means; the origin of the idiom; and an original, student-generated sentence featuring the idiom.

My idiom sheets are numbered, and they give the background information on each idiom. There are tons of internet sources for the idioms, such as this one.  I just chose 12 that I thought were useful and common.  (You could have students research their idioms if you wanted to add "meat" to the assignment.)

I then number the kids off 1-11 and distribute the idiom sheets and the large paper.  While they are working, I circulate to make sure everyone is on the right track.

In my class, we do not break out the markers too often, so the atmosphere in the classroom was great -- kids were relaxed and creative. 


Presentations and Voting

15 minutes

When I call time, I begin calling students up by their numbers.  For example, I say "All #1's to the front."  Because of my class sizes, each idiom was done by two or three people.  The presenters elect someone to share out the origin and meaning of the idiom, then they take turns sharing their drawings and their original sentences.

After they have shared, they turn their backs and the students vote on who did the best poster. The winner gets one extra point.

We cycle through all of the idioms and then the students turn in their posters.

This lesson is a lot of fun; it's memorable, it generates some nice student artwork for the classroom, and the students come away feeling like they understand their language a little better.