Strategies for Empowering Students


  • To enhance students' understanding of metaphors
  • To promote creative writing through the use of metaphors
  • To encourage students to use their experiences and knowledge as a foundation creating poems and compositions

  • Use of metaphors
  • Enhancement of writing and higher-order thinking skills
  • Acquisition of new vocabulary words

  • English
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Science

Discuss the term and definition of metaphor and how the use of metaphors in literature helps make stories and poetry more interesting and fun to read. To ensure that students understand the concept of a metaphor, give them a few minutes to think of some examples. Stress that the metaphors can be about anything in their lives or personal experiences or can even center around their subjects in school, such as language arts, science, and math. Therefore, students may create metaphors:

  • Algebra is a bone-crushing headache.

  • The color blue is a cool, refreshing wave on the hottest day of the year.

  • The human brain is a computer with an infinite amount of memory.

  • The character's mouth was a garbage can.

As teams share their metaphors, have the class interpret the meaning of each one. Continue the dialogue about the usage of metaphors, providing additional examples if needed.

Next read the poem "Song of a Dandelion Pushing up Through an Urban Sidewalk Crack." Ask the students if they think the author was writing about dandelions only, or could this poem be a metaphor about something or someone else?

Call their attention to specific lines in the selection ("No other flowers can mimic our style") or ("atmosphere") and others you think are significant. The students will likely be able to conclude that this poem could be about people such as the homeless or those who are economically disadvantaged or about students who are not considered smart, attractive, or popular.


Song of a Dandelion Pushing up Through an Urban Sidewalk Crack

We sprout up boldly through the crack to offer beauty that the sidewalks lack.
And spread our sunshine-bright yellow smiles.
No other flowers can mimic our style.
They call us weeds, but we are a gift sent from heaven to brighten and uplift the sad, gray atmosphere.
No other flowers dare to grow around here.
If you would stop and simply see our beauty compared to the misery . . . the dirt and pieces of broken glass and useless things that litter the grass,
You would not see us as simply weeds, but as beings that a city needs.
Yes, we smile defiantly anyway, and flash our smile to boldly display what joy can come from the little things.
We are a song, and if you listen, we sing.

--Tiffany Gholar


After reading and discussing this selection, have the students, in their cooperative teams, brainstorm about some social issue, problem, or concern and develop a metaphor to write about their topic. The completed works of each team will be shared with the class.

Have the students read the quote by Lewis Carroll: "You see it's like a portmanteau--there are two meanings packed into one word."

Have the students research the life of Lewis Carroll to determine the following:

  • What was his profession, career, or vocation?
  • What were his beliefs, values, and views about life, the world, and people?
  • What were some other interesting, different, profound, or funny quotes or statements Carroll made that provide insight into his character and convictions?
  • How were his beliefs, values, and viewpoints reflected in his writings?

  • How did students demonstrate their understanding of metaphors?

  • Were students able to work cooperatively in teams in the development of a poem or story? How was this cooperation demonstrated?

  • How did students exhibit creativity and critical thinking skills?
 



Credits

Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.