Today is our first day back from winter break. While many teachers would jump right back into curriculum, I find it helpful to remind my class that we are a team--friendly and productive. What better way to do this than a snowball fight ice breaker and team builder?
I ask students to briefly explain the best part of their winter break on a scrap piece of paper, no names attached. When everyone is done, I instruct students to crumple the paper into a "snowball." Then, we have a [paper] snowball fight! After a minute of high-jinks, I ask students to grab a snowball (not their own) and return to their seats. Students take turns reading their snowball, and we all guess who wrote it.
This activity allows students to complete an activity together while still sharing their break news, thus eliminating chatter which would have occurred during class work. Plus, it's fun--in what otherwise may have been a tiring day, they get a chance to socialize and play. It is a smooth way to segue back into school mode.
This is the third year I've used this essay assignment but the first year I've used this particular activity to help students create a metaphor, and I'm thrilled with the results.
In the past, many students would sit for 10 to 20 minutes, stuck and staring at their outlines. They couldn't create a basic metaphor to start their outline. While I could (and did) help these students individually, it bothered me that so many lost productive time to confusion. I needed a better way to get students started.
Today's class was much different from past classes. All but 3 students had their metaphors recorded on their outlines and were working on evidence and details within 5 minutes of starting. While they tweaked their original metaphors slightly (often dropping the color as unnecessary to the essay), they had a starting point, and it showed.
This new activity helped scaffold students' understanding of the activity and was a productive change to my lesson plans.
Now that students have reviewed metaphors and created their own, we are ready to move into our next essay assignment. We read the Extended Metaphor Essay assignment together; students will examine all the ways a metaphor if their choice is true, choosing supportive reasons to help clarify the metaphor. Next, I share my example outline. After questions ("Can we use the metaphors we just made?" Absolutely--that's why we made them!), I pass out fresh outlines, and students get to work.
This essay diverges from the typical high school essay in that its content leans more toward creativity than logic, which makes it highly engaging for many students. This is a chance to play with language which students rarely get, but it still meets the requirements for expository writing; ultimately, they will need to explain the metaphor. Both standards and fun exist in this assignment.