Monday, April 23, 2012

Adapting Author's Craft

I am (yet again) straying from my usual tech slant to chat about something non-techy. Recently on Pinterest I discovered this link from a fellow blogger about getting kiddos writing using similes and metaphors.  You can click on the image & it will bring you directly to the pin which will then bring you to the original blogger's post. 


I loved this because 
  1. I poetry.
  2. We just so happened to be exploring author's craft/purpose via poetry in Readers' Workshop.  
  3. We were in the midst of exploring author's/poet's craft in Writers' Workshop.
  4. I wanted my kiddos to practice using simile and metaphor and this seemed like a great repetitive way to do it.
  5. We were nearing a vacation filled with half days. 
We are in the final stages of this writing project and here are a few tips for altering it for younger kiddos (this was a grade 6 activity).  My third graders are really enjoying it, despite the challenge it presents. 
Have graphic organizers ready.  For younger kiddos, a lot of time can be wasted on sketching out a graphic organizer (developmental), so why not save that time for the really hard work of creating the similes and metaphors?  I made these quickly on Publisher and turned them into a PDF.  

Break down the steps.  It's okay to do multiple steps in one day and/or one setting, but I broke them down and did one step at a time.  For those who finished first, my kiddos are pretty used to the I'm Done, Now What? routine and know that during Writers' Workshop they are to write.

Use Readers' Workshop as an opportunity to search for examples of simile and metaphor.  I was going to be diving into this anyway, and was able to begin for the writing part.  I used poems from this collection during a guided inquiry on similes on one day.  Then I used this poem during a guided inquiry on metaphors another day.  (I'll do another post later on guided inquiry later.)  After each guided inquiry the kiddos searched our poetry books for examples of similes and metaphors, and marked the pages with post-its stating the craft along with the purpose. (This has been serving as a great reference during Writers' Workshop when they want to try out different authors' craft.)

Model, model, model.  This is particularly necessary with metaphor.  Simile was pretty easy for the kiddos to find, understand, and create.  Metaphor was another story.  I used these Metaphor Starters to help jump-start my kiddos, but explained to them that in order for them to be complex they should elaborate on them.  The starter comes first and then the example I provided for my kiddos comes after that in (what else?) purple. 
  • I am (living / non - living thing comparing self to) (explanation / elaboration of how you can be compared to that) I am a mountain, standing firm and tall in my convictions.
  • My (body part / characteristic) is (living / non - living thing comparing self to)  , (explanation / elaboration of how you can be compared to that) My brain is an iPad, always adapting to any situation.
  • (living / non - living thing comparing self to) (explanation / elaboration of how you can be compared to that) A rock, a force tough to beat on the field.
I am in awe of what they came up with for their similes and metaphors.  It was interesting to see how honest they are willing to be about themselves.  One of my kiddos is aware that he can slip out of his regular speaking voice into more of a whine, and so he poked a bit of fun at himself comparing himself to a lion, "My voice is a lion's roar heard throughout the jungle when it opens." Another kiddo wrote about how she can become introverted, "I am a turtle, hiding in my shell to protect myself from harm."
My last suggestion is to not limit the final product to the paper human outline (last page) as depicted in the original.  My thoughts were to allow the kiddos to venture into the more scrap-booky and/or 3-D side of themselves.  This would make a lot more sense for those who compared themselves to boulders and other in-animate objects.  Also, some kiddos compared their lower body parts to sharks and kangaroos, a more textured approach may make more sense.  My other thought was to provide them a digital option.  I'm not quite sure how this would work, but I'm initially thinking PowerPoint.  It may make the flip part of the book more tricky, but once I figure it out I will definitely post it!  

Most importantly, let the kiddos know that this is hard for you too, but that's okay with you because you just want to try your best.  This will go a long way!!!  Even if you have a classroom culture built on risk - taking.  For younger kiddos writing metaphors and similes can be an incredible challenge and they need to know that their best shot is all that matters.  Within a matter of moments you'll have a group of metaphor experts ready to help out.  Not to mention how much it helps to have ample sharing of what they've got brewing in their organizers.

I'm always grabbing ideas and throwing them on my boards, if you are interested more literacy ideas, check out this Pinterest board of mine.