Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Metaphor: Day One

Boy, we've been so busy trying to finish up our atmosphere, foreshadowing and Thanksgiving writings, I haven't had an opportunity to introduce another literary device.

We began today's lesson by reviewing the literary devices we have already studied. The kids really remembered them both and were able to provide examples for each. We then moved on to metaphor. I read the Carl Sandburg poem "Fog":
THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches 5
and then moves on.

The children were quickly able to identify the metaphor comparing the fog to a cat. We tried to come up with our own metaphors, and I then began to read White Socks Only. I told the kids there were passages that had easily identifiable metaphors, but that there was also far more complicated one that was very subtle.

The story is about a young, black girl growing up in Jim Crow Mississippi. She makes a trip to town by herself, a girl on a mission. When her mission is completed, she is hot and thirsty and sees a water fountain with a sign reading, "Whites Only". Knowing what that means, the little girl takes off her black patent leather shoes and steps up to the fountain wearing her clean, white socks.

Of course, the girl finds herself in trouble when a bore of a white man appears and threatens to "whup" her. Other members of the black community come to her aid, taking off their shoes before stepping up to the fountain to drink. Their socks are a rainbow of colors which bewilders the young girl. And yet, it is okay. The story ends with the sign eventually being removed from the fountain.

Now, there were the obvious metaphors, comparing the angry white man to a bull, and saying his face was as red as fire. And then, there was the subtle one of the white and colored socks and the desegregating of the water fountain. The kids got it! I was so impressed!!

As we have done before, we moved onto writing. The kids had a difficult time with this assignment. I told them they needed to write something, anything, and include at least two metaphors. I left it open ended, letting them write fiction or non-fiction. I also encouraged them to remember the other literary devices we have studied and try to include them in the writings. Many of the kids decided to write about their pets, and I told them they needed to make up a story about the pet. I have found a number of the kids are going to put forth very minimal effort with their writing, giving me only a paragraph and saying they can think of nothing else to write.

I have informed the kiddos, that as fifth graders, this is no longer acceptable. The thing is, so many of these kids have such amazingly creative ideas. Additionally, you should hear the buzz (today, it was more of a ROAR!) in the room as the kids toss ideas back and forth and help each other generate more and more. It is a beautiful sight to see and hear. Unfortunately, the mechanics of actually writing these ideas down stymie some of the kids. Others come to me and ask how many paragraphs they need to write. When I ask how many they have, they'll usually reply, "five or six". Um, yup, that's

I told the kids I want the stories to be exciting and interesting to read. And, from what I read of their proposals, and from what I heard them tell me, the stories are going to be pretty fun! :o) I have asked the kids to have their sloppy copies to me by Friday so I can spend my weekend editing them. Doesn't that sound like fun???

I confess to being delighted the kids are enjoying the creative writing so much! Very few of the children have come to me complaining about writing and not having any ideas. Yay!! Since my goal was to not only work on English and grammar skills, but to have the children practice writing and enjoy what they are doing, I think I'm on the right track! :o)

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