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SWBAT recognize and interpret figurative language in context.

Big Idea

How do we authors make overuse and boring cliches to liven up their stories ?

Introduction to Cliches

20 minutes

This unit's purpose is to give students opportunities to understand an author's choices for using literary devices and how those choices add meaning to the text, which falls in line with the underlying idea of the Craft and Structure standards in the Common Core ELA framework.  Because my students encounter complex figurative devices in the higher level texts that they read (many of my students are reading above grade level at this point), I chose literary devices related to reading standard 4 that I deem appropriate for my class of deep, philosophical intellectuals.

My Promethean Figurative Language Flipchart starts out with the goal for this lesson.  Students understand my expectations because I also present and discuss the scale and rubric with them.  They are targeting a score of 3 as reaching the goal.  We discussed figurative language in previous lessons, but now we are focusing on Cliches.  We analyze the definition of cliches as an expression that has been used too often: it is trite or boring because it is over used; it is not an original expression. 

We go through many examples that I searched on the websites and we review them, as I project them on the Promethean board.  Students who have heard of some of them attempt to define their meaning.  We examined many cliches such as: time will tell, opposites attract, action speaks louder than words, all over the map, etc.  The challenging part was agreeing on their meaning.  Students seem to have various interpretations.  Second graders often take things literally, so teacher guidance is needed for this part of the lesson.  I suggest to my class that their research skills will benefit them for this lesson.

Some of the other cliches we discussed were:

  • All’s well that ends well: This means that even if there were problems along the way, it doesn't matter as long as there is a happy ending
  • Every cloud has a silver lining: This means that even when bad things happen, it may be possible to find some good in them
  • Haste makes waste: This cliché stands for the premise that you will make mistakes when you do things too quickly
  • The writing on the wall: This refers to something that should be clear or apparent and that is essentially a foregone conclusion
  • Time heals all wounds: This means that all pain and suffering will get better over time
  • What goes around comes around: This cliché teaches the lesson that the way you treat others will eventually be the way you are treated
  • When you have lemons, make lemonade: This cliché encourages you to have a positive attitude even when things are going bad.


Practice with Text

15 minutes

I read aloud a several poems including, Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder and A Rose by Any Other Name. I ask students to pay attention to examples of cliches within the poem, especially the titles of the poems.  I projected the poems on my Promethean board as I read it out loud a second time.  Then, I model highlighting the sections of text to identify one or two cliches within the poem. Students are asked to identify more examples of cliches in the poem as we discussed the characteristics of cliches and their effects on the meaning of the story.

Students need ample practice to identify and analyze cliches in text.  We discuss several poetry samples that use cliches to heighten sensory images and understanding of text.  These concrete samples help students understand the context in which cliches are used as well as its intended purpose to communicate complex thoughts in a few words that are readily understood by readers.

Creating Cliches

20 minutes

Students work in their collaborative groups of 5 to 6 students per group to find cliches and define them together.  I ask them to use the cliches in context in a sentence or story.  I challenge students to see which team comes up with five cliches and use them in meaningful sentences. I give each team a Figurative Language Rubric to use as guideline, focusing on cliches. Each group has a laptop to search for cliches and research their meaning.  At the end of this section, students should have their sentences written and prepared to present them to the class.

I circulate as needed while students work in teams to find the most cliches.  Aside from the laptops students are encouraged to browse our classroom library and use books and articles that may contain cliches.  Each team leader is responsible for directing their team to work effectively as possible.  Their progress is measured by a Cooperative Learning Rubric.

Sharing our Cliches

20 minutes

Each team presents their cliche findings and use the cliches contextually in a sentence or story by showing the Cliche Student Sample.  The class rates the effectiveness of the team's presentation on cliches in relation to the imagery it relates.  Suggestions and positive comments are made to give feedback to each team.