Reflection: Homework Emily Dickinson's Simplicity of Language: "I heard a Fly Buzz--" - Section 2: Reviewing Figures of Speech: Seeking Student Examples


Unsurprisingly, many of the student-submitted samples were from the first three: metaphor, simile, and personification, the ones that students had for sure been exposed to previously. With some questioning and modeling, we were able to come up with examples for each figure of speech, though. Next time through, I will add "use a different figure of speech" for each example on the homework, so that students are forced to come up with some variety, and we don't have a run of nothing but personification for death ("Death lays his icy hands upon kings" being a favorite) and simile for life ("Life is like a box of chocolates", thank you, Tom Hanks). 

In the student samples, a variety of reactions can be seen, including, in the final example, Death's icy hands. One of the objectives here was ensuring students remembered MLA citation style: in the first example, the student did not underline the film title (punctuating titles has been something of a pet peeve of mine this year); the second student included flawless citations (and some very creative personal similes and metaphors as well!); the third student struggled with indenting properly (but certainly deserves credit for quoting "The Sound of Silence", and there's our Gump quote!); and the final examples citations are incomplete. I can tell at this point I'll need to reteach citation format, but I will not spend a lot of time on it; students need to take ownership of style as well.

It's also important to note the struggle some students, like the fourth one had, with originality. In many cases, students claim to have created original figures of speech, but a quick Google search would turn up something exact, or similar. This provided a teachable moment; I asked the students, "If you're on the computer to research examples, why not check yours and see if it's original?" Not a criticism, I stressed, but a trick to help them develop their writing. 

  Sharing Examples: Students Fall Back on What They Know
  Homework: Sharing Examples: Students Fall Back on What They Know
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Emily Dickinson's Simplicity of Language: "I heard a Fly Buzz--"

Unit 13: Literacy: Figurative Language in the Poetry of Whitman & Dickinson
Lesson 3 of 6

Objective: SWBAT interpret Emily Dickinson's use of figures of speech in context and analyze how these figures of speech contribute to the meaning and tone of the poem, "I Heard a Fly buzz--".

Big Idea: The stillness in the room was like the stillness in the air--Dickinson's simile sets the tone for the moment of death.

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