Since students recently learned the difference between figurative and literal language, I like to spend time teaching different types of figurative language. Similes are a great way to add detail and description to writing using figurative language. This is a fun unit for kids because there are tons of Similes that they’ve heard and used before and they also really enjoy making up new and unique examples. Once they learn the definition of Similes, it will become one of their favorite things to point out in text. Not only will they notice it being used in text very often, they will also understand the importance of using Similes to make text more interesting.
I like to spend a sufficient amount of time on each strategy to allow for an introduction, modeling, scaffolding, independent practice, assessment, and reflection. Therefore, I spend approximately one week on each strategy and follow a similar instructional routine. This is day one of Similes Week – Introducing the Strategy.
Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the first they are learning about Similes this year, I remind of the difference between figurative and literal language and that onomatopoeia is one type. Then I tell them that we are going to learn about another type of figurative language.
Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “This week, we will be focusing on Similes, which is when you compare two things using like or as. Then I show the anchor chart and share the examples.
Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I ask them if they can come up with some Simile examples on their own. I usually give them a minute of thinking time and then time to turn and talk, but their enthusiasm with this task is usually too big to suppress, so I just let them start calling them out.
Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that I’ve introduced Similes, I tell them that when they are reading today, their job is just to notice Similes while reading one of the books in their browsing boxes. I explain that they will not always find Similes in every book, but that really great authors use them to make their writing more interesting. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task.
Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading.
Guided Practice: Today, I would be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to share Simile examples from the book they are reading. This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups. Because this portion of Reader’s Workshop is meant to be flexible and student based, it is not beneficial to plan too far ahead of time. Instead, you should gauge which students may need extra support through the mini-lesson, prior assessments, reading levels, overall ability and need for scaffolding. For Simile support, I will read with specific students, either with their own books or a teacher selected book, and help them identify examples.
At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to notice Similes in their books. I ask them to repeat the term, Similes. Then I tell them to meet with their reading partner to share what they found. How many examples did they find? Did they see any parts of their text where Similes could be added? After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will focus on Similes for the rest of the week. Reader’s Workshop has come to an end so students put their browsing boxes away and make sure the library is neat and organized.