Monday, April 2, 2012

Finding Figurative Language in Strong Literature/What Makes a Good Book?

One of my favorite activities working with students is when we identify and learn about figurative language and how authors use different techniques to make their writing more exciting.  Recently, I was invited into Trent's room as a guest teacher for an afternoon.  Trent attends a Project Based Learning Charter School where parents are frequently invited into share their strengths.  Mr. Gay, his teacher, asked me to review and extend analyzing figurative language in books.

I brought in several of my favorite picture books that are filled with oodles of figurative language examples.  It is easier for kids to learn a new concept through picture books at a lower reading level before being asked to apply their new knowledge to their individual reading level.

Step One:  We first reviewed several categories of figurative language using the following chart:

Step 2:  I read Sailor Moo, Cow at Sea by Lisa Wheeler to the class. Students were asked to make tally marks each time they noticed a style of figurative language being used.  It was exciting to watch as they noticed and shared their discoveries!  When you live in Wisconsin, who doesn't like a few bovine puns?!  Lisa Wheeler has a clever, clever mind...

  Step Three:  Kids were put into small groups and picked a picture book to read aloud to each other.  They the following recording sheet to write down their examples.

Step 4:  After reading their selected picture books and finding examples, each group in Mr. Gay's class was given a large piece of poster board and instructed to make a graphic organizer of the figurative language in their books.  Art always cements learning!

This class demonstrated an amazing understanding of basic figurative language concepts.  Each group decided who would read their book to the class and who would present categories of figurative language they discovered.  This was an all afternoon project and well worth the time it took to process through whole groups to small group and then with presentations.

Students in Mr. Gay's class are in grades 4-6. Here are a few examples:

Step 5:  As an extension, Mr. Gay decided to have his class write stories.  Selected categories of figurative language were required to be incorporated into their writing.  I can't wait to read their final drafts!



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