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“Find the Similes and Metaphors” Game

3pic_touchup-2Secrets from CurricuLaughs in Language Arts
“Find the Similes and Metaphors” Game

 

A spoonful of sugar not only helps the medicine go down; it makes the medicine more effective—at least that’s what I’ve seen in education and I’m sure you have, as well.

When I once announced to 4th graders that we were going to work on similes and metaphors, they frowned, grumbled, fidgeted, and shut down. That’s why I now announce the lesson this way: “It’s time to play a game!”

All I did was reposition what we would be doing and I get cheers! Okay, it is fair to say that when I tell them that the name of the game is “Find the Similes and Metaphors,” some of the more astute students’ smiles diminish, but it is TOO LATE—they have already moved themselves into “FUN position”.

“…The ironic thing was that they got a lesson like they would get in their classroom but they saw it as pure fun…”
Dr. Dael Angelico-Hart Linden School Principal Malden, Massachusetts

So what is the “Find Similes and Metaphors” game?
It’s a quiz!

It is nothing more than a quiz with a small but important twist: the quiz is done orally by volunteers and the student volunteers become the teachers. I can’t tell you how exciting it is for me to see the flow of illuminating light bulbs (to mix metaphors) in this simple exercise. (The mixed-metaphor game is ANOTHER really fun and effective game for the kids so please feel free to e-mail me for that.)

I project a list of lines taken from poems that I shared with the students during their wild and crazy assembly. In each of the lines is a simile or metaphor. They had seen me dressed as Sherlock Poems, Poetry Detective, reading one of them. They may have seen me juggling or falling on the floor as I shared another. Now, though, they are just seeing the lines with no entertainment, other than the challenge of beating the “game”.

The rules to the game are simple:
1. Tell me which part of the line is the simile or metaphor part
2. Tell me whether it is a simile or metaphor, and
3. Tell me WHY it is one and not the other.

A different student is chosen to do this for the each line. The best thing that can happen in this game is an incorrect answer. At that point, another student helps them to see the presence (or lack) of “as” or “like” in the simile or metaphor part of the line.

It is a very simple but EXTREMELY effective way to get the point across because a) they are being put in the position of having fun, and b) they learn from each other, rather than from me.

Please e-mail me if you would like information on more games or my school visit programs and please come hear me speak at the Reading for the Love of It conference in February.

Thank you for reading and please keep adding fun to your classroom.

jeffnathanJeff Nathan,

2015 Ben Franklin Award Winning Author, Jeff Nathan
                  www.IncredibleAssemblies.com

Easy Steps to a Differentiated Spelling Program

25waysspellingfunEach September I begin by asking my students why we write? I want them to fully understand that the basic purpose of writing is to communicate our ideas. Grasping this concept is a step in the right direction to having them want to improve their skills.  After all, if they work at developing good writing skills, it will be easier for them to get their message across.

This leads us to the spelling issue. In this day and age of spellcheckers and technology, do we really need to focus on spelling in school?  The answer is yes. Poor spelling leads to miscommunication, so I use an example of poor spelling to get my point across.  After seeing the difference that spelling makes to the clarity of a message, students are eager to improve their skills, but the traditional spelling list does little to actually help them achieve their goals. The trick is tailoring the spelling instruction to individual needs of students.  This is a summary of how I differentiate to meet the spelling instruction needs of my students. I hope it will help you meet the needs of your students, too.

  At the end of these lessons, you will be able to:

*identify and share the different purposes for writing

*identify improving spelling as a way to better communicate in writing

*identify and apply common spelling generalizations in own writing

Write this message to your students on the board or pop this picture up on your smart board.  Turn and talk with an elbow partner:spellingexemplar

Why was it difficult to read the message?

In a whole-group discussion, share the problems with the message: spelling, punctuation, printing.

What would you do to improve the message?

Give students a copy of the message and see if they can work with a partner to make it better.

Hand out new notebooks that the students will use to improve their spelling of the words they don’t know. Label the book with “My Spelling Words to Study”.

Explain to the students that we all have different spelling skills, just like we all wear different shoe sizes. That’s why we all need to work at learning to spell different words, but first we need to know which words we need to work on.

Follow up with a test of the top 300-500 (depending on grade level) high-frequency words. It may take several sessions to complete this diagnostic assessment. I usually give about 50 words at a time. Higher grades may want to use words  500+. I recommend using Rebecca Sitton’s Spelling Sourcebook

After each test, mark the student’s work and circle each misspelled word and write the correct spelling word beside the misspelled word.

Following the tests, have students transfer the first ten of the correct spelling of the words they need to know to their “Words to Study” list included in this package. We will repeat this each week from the 300 words. After that, I will give a new test of the next 100 high-frequency words and/or use the “problem words from their writing”. Students now have an individualized list of words that they need to work from during the year. Each week they will work on these words during their word work time using a variety of generic spelling games and study activities which have been taught.

For home practice,  I give students a recording sheet to make their lists each week.  This is how I set mine up:

Each week the students will refer to their “Words to Study” list to make their spelling list to study for that week. If you are teaching specific spelling patterns each week, you may have them choose five words from the list and five words from the spelling pattern you are currently studying. They make two copies of the list.  One that goes home to study and one that stays at school for the peer test that students give each other later in the week. If students do not spell every word on their  “Word Work/Spelling List Record Sheet” correctly, they must transfer the words they got incorrect, to next week’s list  and continue to do so until they have mastered them. Each week that they master their list, they get a coin for their “Master Spellers” certificate. At the beginning of the year,  I also send home the “25 Ideas” in two page protectors. Students can post these on their fridge for fun ways to practice their words at home.easyspelling25ways

Vital to student success and growth in spelling will be the provision of many goal-setting conferences to identify successes in improved spelling in their writing.  The connection between good spelling skills and clarity of written messages needs to be continually reinforced during these teacher-student conversations.  These conferences should go a long way towards helping students see that their efforts are resulting in progress toward their better spelling and communication goals.

On in my TPT store, I put together a complete package for you to help get you started. In it,  I tried to include everything you’ll need for your word work program this year. Included in this package you’ll find:

easystepsmultisheet* My Word to Study Listwordstostudypic

*Student Spelling List Record Sheets

* Student Spelling test sheets

* Word Work Activity Ideas

* “Master Speller” coin collector student sheet

I hope this is a valuable resource for you in providing a differentiated spelling program for the students in your classroom. The whole package is on sale this week to give you a chance to get it, and try it, for an introductory low price.  Check it out here:

EASY STEPS DIFFERENTIATED SPELLINGcoins

Questions? I’d love to hear from you. What do you do in your classroom to differentiate instruction for students?

Best,

Sharon