Differentiated Instruction and Critical Thinking

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A pencil sharpener

  • A pencil sharpener
  • Whittler of pulp
  • Tool diminisher
  • Mouth of a sawdust monster
  • Eater of brain translators
  • Cranking something to precision
  • Writing re-energizer
  • Scantron test enabler
  • Curtains
  • Wall between fantasy and reality
  • Denied secrets
  • Anticipation
  • Arbiter of suspense
  • Making a house a home
  • Vacuum cleaner antagonist
  • Cat’s “Jungle Gym”
  • Railroad
  • Circulatory system of the country
  • Enforcer of Manifest Destiny
  • Iron monster
  • Unforgiving mistress to a hobo
  • Lifeline
  • Economic renewal
  • Relentless beast
  • Mechanical blight
  • Movie set
  • A foreshadow of things to come
  • A hearkening to the past

Look Around your Classroom and Give it a Shot…

  • Is that coffee cup a soothing friend or a catalyst for creativity?
  • Is the open classroom door an invitation for the rest of the world to join in your discussion, or is it a momentary lapse in security?
  • Is the computer sitting in the corner gathering dust an albatross around your neck, or does it represent emancipation from tedium and conventional practice?

Process for Generating Metaphors and Analogies

  • Break the topic into its component pieces.
  • Identify comparisons with the topic that are relevant to students’ lives, making abstract ideas as concrete and personally affecting as possible. Create a common frame of reference in students if necessary.
  • “Test drive” the metaphor or analogy with others whose opinions you trust. Make sure the person can identify the metaphor and message on his own.
  • Double-check that the metaphor or analogy furthers your cause, won’t confuse students, and actually adds to instruction instead of weakens it.
  • After using a metaphor or analogy, ask students to evaluate its helpfulness.

Metaphors – Analysis Chart

  • Symbol to Represent
  • Explanation of Symbol
  • How this Symbol Connects to Character/Event
  • Passages Cited to Support this Connection
  • -- Based on an idea from Kelly Gallagher’s Deeper Reading

______________________ is (are) a _________________ because _______________________________________.

  • ______________________ is (are) a _________________ because _______________________________________.
  • Ask students to include something intangible, such as suspicion or an odyssey, in the first blank. The tangible comparison---a combination lock or an elliptical trainer---would fit in the second section.
  • Ask students to justify their choices:
    • “Suspicion is a combination lock because it secures a possession’s well-being that cannot be assured through trust alone. Odyssey is an elliptical trainer because it has a beginning, middle, and end, and along the way, we encounter moments of endurance, doubt, despair, and elation, leaving comfort and returning again.”

Questioning the Metaphor

  • Find a way to improve the metaphor or analogy:
  • “Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; & anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would. I dunno. - "Was the World Made for Man?“ (from, www.twainquotes.com)

Metaphors Break Down

  • “You can’t think of feudalism as a ladder because you can climb up a ladder. The feudal structure is more like sedimentary rock: what’s on the bottom will always be on the bottom unless some cataclysmic event occurs.”
  • A classroom is like a beehive.” Where does the simile sink?
  • Students are not bees.
  • Students have a variety of readiness levels and skill sets for completing tasks. Bees are more uniform.
  • Students don’t respond blindly or purely to the pheromones of the queen bee.
  • Students are busier throughout the day and night than bees.
  • Students don’t swarm when angered.

How Do these Metaphors Fall Apart?

  • Life is like an apple tree.
  • The structure of an essay is like a hamburger.
  • The lawyer harvested the information from three witnesses.
  • She broke the glass ceiling.
  • Cancer is an unwelcome house guest.
  • Eyes are windows to the soul.
  • Urban renewal was the engine that powered the committee.
  • Their conversation was as risky as Russian roulette.
  • That remark was the tipping point in the debate.
  • The purpose of a neuron’s myelin sheath is the same as the Police Department’s motto: To serve and protect.  

Test the Verb Strength

  • Did we invade the country, or did we liberate it? The choice of verbs frames our thinking. Ask students to change only the verb and explain how the reader or listener’s interpretation of the topic would change as a result.
  • The senator corralled her constituents.
  • The senator coddled her constituents.
  • The senator ignited her constituents.
  • The senator stonewalled her constituents.
  • The senator suckered her constituents.
  • The senator mollified her constituents.
  • The senator lifted her constituents.

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