Two days ago we had our first lesson on figurative language. Today is the second day that I've taught figurative language in this mini-unit on poetry. It is the first day that I've taught with the poem Casey at Bat. Therefore, I have an explicit lesson on figurative language so that students can understand the text before we analyze it further. I have an ELL cluster and we always focus to some degree on language usage the first day we explore a new text. Also, I want to build a bit of background knowledge regarding baseball for my ELL scholars. This will also enable them to better access the text.
I show scholars a picture of a young baseball player getting ready to attempt to hit a baseball (see resources section). I ask them to think of as many metaphors as possible that would describe the scene from the vantage point of a spectator.
Scholars have 3 minutes to jot down their thinking. As they work, I circulate and think aloud to help support struggling learners, "Hmm, lets see, I know a metaphor compares two things without using the words 'like' or 'as'. That means I should pick something that I see. I see clouds in the sky. What can I compare clouds to? What do clouds look like? I guess they look like cotton balls. There are many clouds in the sky, so I could write that cotton balls cluttered the sky. That is definitely a metaphor because it does not use like or as but it compares two things: cotton balls and clouds."
If needed, I will provide 1-1 support to scholars by asking them: "What do you see? What can you compare that with? What is your metaphor?"
After 3 minutes, scholars share with table groups (I typically give about 30 seconds to keep the pace up and to hold scholars accountable for sharing). Then, we do a rally robin showdown where I select 6 scholars from my cup. Each scholar shares a metaphor that they generated during the "think time" and the last one standing wins.
**This does not work with EVERY group, but I have 1 class that is particularly competitive and they LOVE to do this! I have my other group rally robin in table groups or I just have them think, pair share. Each class has its own personality and it is important to plan strategies that are engaging and not intimidating.
We do a close reading so that all scholars have access to the text on the first read. Then, I go back and re-read the first few lines and do a think aloud regarding the figurative language that I find. I say, "wow, this stanza says, when Coonie died at first and Barrows did the same. When I think about that, I realize that Connie is a boy and so is Barrows. I think to myself, did they really die? If they did really die, then I think this poem would make a MUCH bigger deal of it than it does. It makes me think they didn't really die. If they didn't die, then this must be an example of figurative language. What is the author comparing with dying? Let's see. This poem is about a baseball game. If two people "die" in a baseball game when they go up to bat, what happens to them? Oh, they strike out! That's it, I think the author is comparing dying to striking out!" I then model testing my theory by reading the remaining part of the stanza to make sure that it indeed means what I think it does.
I model how to record my thinking on the foldable and use my visualizer so that all scholars can see. I make foldables with the kids because they are fun, engaging and it makes it feel more like fun and less like school. Scholars write the figurative language in quotes on the first flap of the foldable. Then, on the inside they draw a picture of the literal meaning and then write a few sentences that describes the figurative meaning.
Scholars record what I model with me so that they have a strong example when they move into guided practice.
I ask scholars to give me a thumbs up, thumbs to the side or thumbs down depending on how confident they are feeling about practicing this skill on their own. If they are confident, I break them off into groups. If thumbs are to the side or down, then they stay with me for more supported practice.
This is a reflective process that I explicitly teach them. They are invested in doing well and reaching their goals in our class based on all of the team building that we do throughout the year. As a result, I find that scholars are VERY honest in this reflection. If they need the support they stay, if they don't need the support they leave. If I notice a scholar is having a tough time (because I do circulate and collect student work EACH day), then I make sure that scholar remains with me the next day.
I continue to read the poem and pause to think about figurative language with my small group. I circulate to check on the students in the more independent partner practice about every 2-5 minutes to keep them accountable. I may say things like, "I'm going to be back in 5 minutes, I expect to see 2 more examples of figurative language when I get back." If my ELL co-teacher is in the classroom at this time, she pulls the students in the small group and I circulate to provide support to partnerships.
My scholars love this time because they get to interact with new students and they get to get up and move around the room a bit.
During this time scholars rotate through 2 stations.
I start the time by reviewing our checklist items for the week and explicitly state what should be completed by the end of the day. This holds scholars accountable to their work thereby making them more productive. Then, the ELL teacher and I share the materials that our groups will need to be successful (i.e. a pencil and your book baggies). Then, I give scholars 20 seconds to get to the place in the room where they will be for the first rotation. The first scholars who are there with all materials they need receive additions on their paychecks or positive PAWS.
During the rotations for this lesson, my small group objective today is to identify and analyze metaphors in poems that are on each group's highest instructional level. Scholars read a portion of the same poem (different for each group depending on reading level, but the same text is read in each group). Then we discuss figurative language.
After the first rotation, I do a rhythmic clap to get everyone's attention. Scholars place hands on head and eyes on me so I know they are listening. Then they point to where they go next. I give them 20 seconds to get there. Again, scholars who are at the next station in under 20 seconds with everything they need receive a positive PAW or a paycheck addition. We practice rotations at the beginning of the year so scholars know if they are back at my table, they walk on the right side of the room, if they are with the ELL teacher, they walk on the left side of the room and if they are at their desks, they walk in the middle of the room. This way we avoid any collisions.
At the end of our rotation time I give scholars 20 seconds to get back to their desks and take out materials needed for the closing part of our lesson. Timing transitions helps to make us more productive and communicates the importance of our learning time.
During the closing, I have scholars re-read Casey at Bat. As they read the identify 1 example of a metaphor that they had not yet identified and they write it on their foldable. They draw a picture of the literal meaning and explain the figurative meaning. I collect the foldables, grade them that night to inform my instruction and help me to plan for small groups the following day.