After 23 years of teaching I know that some years are better than others.
Sometimes things just don’t quite come together the way you really want them to no matter what you do, and it’s best to just cut bait and move on. Try again next year with a new group of students and hope for the best.
This year has not been terrible, not by a long shot, but it has not come together quite like past years have. This is the first year since my district eliminated GATE classes in the middle schools which makes it my first non-GATE year in a very long time. It’s been an adjustment.
One thing that has become clear is that my class book clubs will need to be re-tooled for the fall or eliminated altogether. (I still refuse and will continue to refuse, to do Accelerated Reader even upon pain of death.) With a GATE class, I just have to show the students a few good titles and they’ll end up fighting for them. This year, it’s been a mad rush for the shortest books time after time, while Life of Pi, The Book Thief, Inkheart and the rest of the longer books spent most of the year gathering dust.
When I finally required that everyone read something from the ‘classics and award winners’ list, something I haven’t had to do in a while, The Old Man and the Sea was in high demand because it’ short. While GATE students have loved The Old Man and the Sea, this years students whined and complained about it ad nauseum.
So when it came time for book clubs to meet, I needed an activity that would ensure I didn’t spend the half hour listening to seventh graders trash one of my favorite books.
Inspiration can come out of desperation.
The afternoon before book clubs were to meet I thought, metaphors!
That night, I made up a list of possible metaphors like these:
- If our book were an animal, it would be a ____________________ because…
- If our book were something from mythology it would be ________________ because…
- If our book were something in our backpacks it would be _____________ because…
- If our book were a superhero it would be ________________ because…
Each group had 30 minutes to discuss and complete at least ten of the possible 18 metaphors listed. They were allowed to come up with metaphors of their own, too. Afterwards, students had 15 minutes to write a rough draft of a formal paragraph developing their metaphor in detail. These were then typed up as homework.
I didn’t have to listen to anyone complain about The Old Man and the Sea.
And the paragraphs were quite good, too. Many were very thoughtful and incisive. Turns out The Old Man and the Sea has a lot in common with Aquaman beyond the obvious connection and the final book in The Maze Runner series is remarkably like a hyena. To my delight, a large majority of students wrote properly organized paragraphs with exact thesis statements even without me reminding them to do so.
So, with a few changes and a few more worksheets like this one, I’ll be keeping book clubs around for another year.
If you’re a teacher in need of an activity, or if you’re just interested you can see the full metaphor worksheet here. It’s set to view only so I recommend copy/paste because you’ll probably have to reformat it some, and I’m sure you’ll want to add some metaphors of your own. 😉