This week was my first official beginning. Luckily, it was a 4 day week because of Family Day (which I am thankful for because I was anxious).
On my first day of teaching, I had to introduce the elements of style to one of my grade 8 classes. My issue? How was I supposed to make elements of style interesting? What are the elements of style anyway? Why are they important?
These questions helped me develop a lesson plan. After several hours of researching ideas and suggestions on how to make this lesson interesting, I came up with the following:
On the board I wrote, "The girl is pretty. She is sad. She is wearing a green dress". I then asked for two volunteers to come up to the front of the classroom (students seem to really enjoy standing at the front for some reason), and asked them to draw a picture to the following description: 'A giant of a man was standing in the doorway. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair' and 'He was a big, beefy man, with hardly any neck, but a very large moustache that curled towards his nose. His hair fell down past his shoulders in tight black curls like a the hair of a baby lamb'. I asked the class why the descriptions that I read were better than the simple sentence about the sad girl in the green dress. Eventually, someone said that the descriptions compared two objects together so that it was easier to imagine. And this is how I introduced the topic of the various elements of style.
As a class, we unpacked the definitions of simile, metaphor, hyperbole, and personification, and why they are important in literature (as both my English classes are in literature circles). I then posted four sheets of chart paper around the class and handed each student a sentence that is an example of one of the four elements of style.
After debriefing about the various sentences and arguing about why some are similes versus metaphors, I gave students chart paper and asked them use evidence from their novels that will help them draw the main character from their text. I used the example of Sodapop from The Outsiders, where the author states that 'Soda attracts girls like honey draws flies' and that "he's got eyes that are like two pieces of pale blue-green ice.' Overall success!
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