Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :
Pre-step…before sharing the published model: Pass out note cards with common (and overused) metaphors on them: I’m dog tired; rugrat; She thundered into the room; I’ve hit a wall; You’re a couch potato; birdbrain; She took me under her wing; I’ve got egg on my face; You’re a good egg; You’re hogging it; Let’s pig out; He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing; You’re a sitting duck, Stop badgering me, I’m bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; She’s an eager beaver; He’s a lone wolf; There’s a white elephant in the room; She’s the queen bee; Snail mail; She’s a litterbug.
Have students draw out the literal definition of one or two, and then share them as a class. After sharing, ask them if the words/expressions mean what they literally drew. Once they make the connection that they aren’t literal, ask how they know what they mean. This should lead into a conversation about the definition of METAPHOR and how metaphors make our writing rich with word choice and help us develop our ideas.
Step one (sharing the published model):
Next share Langston Hughes poem “Dreams” out loud. After reading, ask them to think about and discuss the following questions:
- What is this metaphor referring to within the context of the poem?
- How do these metaphors work in relation to the poem's title, "Dreams"?
- Can you describe how or why this metaphor works?
- What makes this an effective metaphor and why?
After having a conversation about metaphors—what they are and why they are effective in writing—read from the mentor text, Girl with a Pearl Earring. The first chapter starts out with the main character, Griet, describing people in the novel using metaphors. The author uses metaphor to enhance word choice and develop a rich storyline.
Have the student pair up and read the first two pages of chapter one. Ask them write down as many examples of metaphors they can find. Share the findings out loud. They will discover the characters being described with metaphors such as “rich carpets in their voices, books and pearls and fur”, “my mother’s voice—a cooking pot, a flagon”, “her two eyes warnings”, “her eyes were two brown buttons”, etc. Talk about why this make the writing better. Also, discuss what the writing would be like if the author didn’t use these types of metaphors.
Tell students they will be dedicating a page in their writer's notebooks or their journals to "unique metaphors." Starting today, and continuing throughout the remainder of the year, they are to think of unique metaphors for persons, places, and things. When they create one that they believe is really great, they will be neatly printing on the page they have set aside for it. On occasion, the teacher will ask students to turn to that page and to have students share any new ones with the class.