Reflection: Joy Extended Metaphor with the Puritans & Shel Silverstein - Section 3: Building Knowledge


It's pretty amazing when you get a non-sarcastic "wow" out of a high school Junior, but the quote listed at the top of this section really IS from a Junior.  I kid you not.

I think it's been a really long time since I have had 100% of students completely shiny-eyed with amazement, understanding, and wonder while learning about a literary element, but today was one of those magical days.  This notebook activity was one of those happy accidents of know the kind.  I knew I was going to pull an example to develop as a classroom, but I didn't plan one out in advance.  So standing there in front of my first hour class, I reached confidently for the closest thing to my podium.  A notebook.  And so was born the extended metaphor heard round the world. (Really!  I had several students tweet, "My life is a notebook.  #mindblown."  That obviously made my day!)

This example was probably the best I've ever found to show students the sheer possibilities of an extended metaphor.  They have lugged notebooks around with them for most of their lives, yet this discussion had them staring at their notebooks with such awe that I would have guessed they had never seen one in their entire lives.  I will absolutely always use this example for that reason.  I would strongly encourage you to try this in your classroom before tackling "Huswifery," because that is "such a different animal," as I tend to say.  They will struggle with the language, and they will struggle with the content since most are not at all familiar with spinning wheels or looms.  However, this opening activity made them so willing to view the world and literature in a new way--almost like it had a secret they were waiting to uncover--that they took on the challenges of the day like true champions!  

Following up the magical class moment we had with the notebook example with Shel Silverstein was also another wining idea since so many students had a childhood affinity for his literature.  The meaning was also so varied depending on the student that they were immediately involved.  It was definitely a tremendous day for learning.

I'll leave you with some non-required, non-solicited writing that today's lesson prompted from a student who was really inspired by the notebook example.  As a fellow English teacher, I'm sure you'll understand entirely how marvelous having any kind of expression inspired by your class is!

"Life is a notebook, each line is an hour, each page is a day, each page written is a memory, each blank page is the future, each divider is a life changing event, while the front(beginning) is colorful and majestic, and the back is the ending of your story. Don’t waste your paper(life)!"

  "Wow. My life really IS a notebook..." -Student
  Joy: "Wow. My life really IS a notebook..." -Student
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Extended Metaphor with the Puritans & Shel Silverstein

Unit 1: Early American Voices & Developing Reading Habits
Lesson 9 of 9

Objective: SWBAT draw evidence from varied texts to support extended metaphor analysis while defending interpretation of text in whole-class discussion.

Big Idea: Life is a notebook, my parents are trees, and Jonathan Edwards wants to be a spinning wheel. Can you hold your own with extended metaphors?

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