Activity
Community building activities, Ongoing engagement, Reflective activities

Getting at Metaphor

Felecia Caton Garcia

Felecia Caton Garcia

Heather Wright

Heather Wright

This is a creative activity that allows students to deeply engage in fluid, dynamic and ambiguous thinking through metaphors.

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ACTIVITY PURPOSE

This activity can be carried out at any point during an academic year and works well as a brainstorming or pre-writing activity. It encourages students to engage in different ways of seeing and experiencing things through metaphors. 

USEFUL FOR

Helping students understand the layers of language, and how careful reading might invite looking up words in dictionaries, to understand their double-meaning, and how that meaning can be applied, in an assignment. Additionally, when students are about to embark on a descriptive or observatory project or task, digging deeper into the ways that we process that information, both sensory processing and language processing, could be very useful.

PREPARATION

A brief introduction to metaphors and how they work.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Have a discussion with students about the importance of language. You could talk about how the oldest poems are spells, incantations, prayers, and curses, for example, ‘Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog’ (a quote by William Shakespeare). The power of words directs our lives: talk about taboos, religion, law, rhetoric, and vows. When we utter words, we cross a threshold: we are not the same people as before. 
  2. Give students some background guidance on metaphors and offer some examples: Metaphor comes from the Greek: ‘transference’. We transfer the qualities of one thing onto something else. For example, the sky was a sea of stars. The subject is called the tenor (stars). The source of transferred qualities is called the vehicle (sea). If the metaphor is ‘true,’ the two images resonate in the mind.
  3. Invite them to find an object in their proximity: this might be a set of keys, a water bottle, a plant, a piece of jewelry, or a talisman. 
  4. Ask the students to take two minutes to describe this item: encourage them to use no metaphors but think about sight, sound, taste, smell, and feel.  
  5. Now focus entirely on the use of metaphors: ask your students to write a poem/story/meditation about the object, and to let them be guided by thinking about ‘what’ it means to (to learn, to teach or whatever else). 

DURATION

From 20-40 minutes with time to share.

ADAPTATIONS AND EXAMPLES

You can ask students to focus on anything in the final writing prompt.

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

None

USEFUL RESOURCES

Do you have any suggestions? Please share them in the comments below.

ABOUT

  • Educator prep: None
  • Student prep: None
  • Synchronous, Asynchronous
  • No tech needed
  • Duration: Variable

This activity is one of a series of activities from Equity Unbound, focused on equitable online community building. 

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