Teaching Figurative Language Using Blendspace in English Language Arts for 8th Grade AIG Students

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The Context for My Lesson

For this lesson on Figurative language, which should build upon the initial ideas taught in the 5th grade ELA classroom, our students will have been finishing various poetry readings including “In Just” by E.E. Cummings, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost, “A Light Exists in Spring” by Emily Dickinson, “Journey to Be” by Mark Slaughter, and “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. In the immediate aftermath of the lesson, students will be incorporating figurative language and poetry into their writing journals, in a freeform style that meshes with their current writing in progress.  While students would have been initially introduced to both poetry and figurative language in elementary school, they will not have journeyed in-depth into the specifics of each type.  Since this is a class composed of Academically and Intellectually gifted students, they will need both theoretical and practical applications, as well as an understanding of how they affect critical thinking, mood, and the general tone they imply.  This need for multiple applications points is a great reason to use Blendspace to give various ideas to the students and better illustrate through group work and creativity how much figurative language is used in every day speech and writing.

The Standard this Lesson Meets

The lesson will focus on Common Core Standard 8.L.5 which is “Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meaning”. (North Carolina Standards for Language Arts, 53). We will be using the year-long writing assignment of finishing the story for a character, and begin looking for figurative speech within the previous entries.  I will use Blendspace to help them understand the different figures of speech and ask them to apply it to a TV Show clip. We will play a word relationship game out loud in the class to establish their ability to make associations with words, as well as if they have positive or negative connotation to the student.  Finally, I will ask the students to participate in a burst writing session using figurative speech in terms of a historical event or person.

The Media or Technology I am Integrating

For this lesson I am using the website Blendspace to integrate a power point presentation, a fun and practical application to current TV clips, and a Flash Thought word relationship game to make the information fun and memorable.  The Blendspace lesson I am using can be found at Blendspace and Figurative Language.

Blendspace allows instructors to collaborate with various available media examples and mix them up to create a complete lesson, to be used together or in snippets depending on the subject.  It gives teachers complete control of how their lesson will be viewed and the ability to create scenarios that students can reference later if they have trouble understanding the information, if they are being tutored, or need assistance from their parents or guardians.

The Rationale for Integrating the Media or Technology into this Lesson

The heart of all English Language Arts is creativity and critical thinking skills combined with enough flair to make it memorable.  So it would seem that to immerse the students in this idea, it would need to be illustrated in a format that they can embrace.  One way to do this is to integrate technology and media into the lesson so that students can see there is more than one way to reach the goal.  Some would say that classrooms that “supports unusual ideas, provides freedom of thought and freedom of choice is conductive to creative achievement” (Batchelor & Blintz, 5).  Using a variety of available technology and media sources allows the instructor to connect to each student at their best point.  Some students may understand TV clips more than reading, while others may be able to apply the lesson to popular music.  Blendspace allows the teacher to incorporate both into the lesson and give the students the choice of how they would best understand.  Another point to make is that “asking questions is critical”, and in many middle grades “many students spend more time answering questions, rather an asking them” (Batchelor & Blintz, 5).  This ability to integrate more than one media source into one site gives students the ability to not only question their own beliefs but question the instructor about how they would interpret the given examples.

The Integration of the Media or Technology Into the Lesson

To begin our lesson on Figurative Language, the instructor would ask the students to review what they currently remember about figurative language, and point out some examples in one of the 5 poems they are currently studying.  I would encourage the students to question each other as we go through the class and ask open-ended questions such as the classic who, what, when, where, why and how questions as it pertains to the example given.  After this section, the teacher would introduce all of the varieties of figurative language and ask each student to pick one, putting it aside for a later activity.  At this point, the teacher would show the initial power point which reviews Metaphor, Simile, and Idioms, and gives examples of such, then asks the students to identify certain examples given in the power point.  Furthermore, the teacher can divide the students into groups and assign one of the examples to be used in their blast writing assignment.  At this time, students would have 5 minutes to complete a short paragraph using their assigned example.  Next, students will evaluate how the examples affected how they thought and felt about the subject aloud in class.  This would prompt discussion and immersion into the lesson.  Next the students would be asked to find examples of metaphor, simile, and idioms in their poetry selections and explain how these impacted their reading of the poetry.

This would be a multiple day lesson, so in the second day I would suggest a brief review of yesterday’s activities, and confirm they are ready to continue, or if there were additional questions that they had.  If they were ready to continue, the teacher would then ask for a volunteer to narrate the Flocabulary example included in the Blendspace lesson. After this, the instructor would then show it again with the given narration, to show how tone as well as figurative language and inflection affect our understanding in literature.  At this point their assignment would be given to them to write into their stories, based on one of three prompts provided to them on Blendspace, and to make sure to integrate it into their current writing.  This would be turned in at the end of the unit.  This would be a multi day assignment, and would not be done during class time.

In the third day of the lesson, I would once again review and open the floor for questions regarding the past two days.  I would also ask them if they had found any applications during their daily life.  Can they identify if their parents or siblings have used these while talking in the past two days?  This gives them a point of reference to how often it occurs.  It also brings home that it is not just a literary technique but a part of daily life.  After this time, they would be given the choice to watch a TV clip or a song clip, after which they would be given 5 minutes to pick out as many examples as they could.  Class discussion would ensue, once again, asking students to pose open-ended questions and critical thinking to what each example could mean.  Finally, to end the lesson, flashcards would be printed from the Blendspace site, and each child would come to the front and pull a selection from a jar, and then have to think quick and improvise an example.

My Evaluation of the Media or Technology Integration.

By far, I believe that the ability to customize and mix up technology with Blendspace is a great way to give students a very rounded view of the material.  By integrating it sporadically it breaks up the instruction time, assignment time, and gives the students time to absorb and apply the information in a manner that is best suited to them, especially with such a wide open topic as figurative language.  It gives modern points of reference that are pertinent to their lives, while also allowing more classical integration via previous readings to introduce the material.  While this may not work for all students, I believe for the vast majority of students it would keep their attention and give them the chance to stretch their critical thinking wings both in the classroom and out.

References

Batchelor, K. E., & Blintz, W. P. (2013, September). Promoting creativity in the middle    grades language arts classroom. Middle School Journal, 3-11. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
Oxymoron [Photograph]. (2005). Mindspigot, Flickr.

 

 

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