Thursday, April 8, 2010

PSSA Figurative Language Review (Group work)

When thinking of how to incorporate PSSA prep into my class, I saw it as a challenge. How do I help students learn these concepts in an authentic way?

For the last two days I have started class with a "warm up." I explained to my students that it is important for them to have lots of practice because it will lessen the chance of them "freaking out" on test day! Also, my excitement level is very high - especially when teaching a new lesson for the first time (like today!)

We reviewed several different types of figurative language yesterday, including simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, and idiom. My eighth graders are familiar with these terms and know them pretty well. My intentions for this activity were - to help students who do not know the terms well to gain understanding, and - to help students who already know them to recognize and analyze them quicker.

On our Promethean board, I wrote instructions for a group activity. There were three groups: a simile group, a metaphor group, and a hyperbole group. Each group had to think about their specific type of figurative language and re-write three sentences using that figurative language. The sentences were:

Elizabeth is very pretty.
It is very hot.
I am so tired.

I broke the students into three groups and told them they have 10 minutes to re-write each sentence two different ways, using their group's figurative language. Here are some student work:

Similies:
Elizabeth is as pretty as a flower blooming in the meadow.
Elizabeth is as pretty as a deer walking in the snow.
It is as hot as the desert.
It is hot like an oven.
I am as tired as a bear in hibernation.
I am as tired as a kid coming out of school.

Metaphors:

Elizabeth is a ruby sparkling in the light.
Elizabeth is a golden sunset.
It is a steaming volcano outside.
It is so hot it's an oven outside.
I am so tired I am a hibernating bear.
I am so tired I am a sloth.

Hyperboles: (these were the "funniest" ones according to my classes!)

Elizabeth is so pretty every time I see her I fall over.
I am blinded by Elizabeth's beauty.
It is so hot I feel I am sitting in the desert and camels are passing by.
It is so hot I can make Crabby Patties on the ground.
I'm so tired if you threw a rock at my head I wouldn't feel it.
I'm so exhausted I could sleep for eternity.

I asked students to present their sentences to the rest of the class and it went very well! There were some particularly funny ones. I chose to have them re-write the same sentence for each group so they could see the differences between similies, metaphors, and hyperboles. Students worked well in their groups, coming up with examples, then saying "AH! That won't work...that has 'like' in it!" (said in a metaphor group).

I finished the activity by asking the whole class, "Why use figurative language?" Students quickly shouted out "Funnier," "To exaggerate something," and "To make it more memorable." Then students answered two questions and turned them in. The questions were:

Which re-written sentence stands out the most in your mind? Why?
What is your favorite type of figurative language? (simile, metaphor, hyperbole) Why?

I hope that in the process of doing this activity, students will remember the activity and hopefully one or more of the literary terms!

Tips for other teachers - Plan 20 minutes to a half hour for this activity, depending on class size. For students having problems with writing metaphors, have them think of similies first, then have them try to change them into metaphors using a direct comparison.

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