In the past, I have taught similes and metaphors as two different ways to compare. Although I introduce them together, I would generally teach similes (an easier skill, IMO) and then I would move to metaphors. Well, two weeks ago, I decided I would teach them as the same skill. I mean, after all, they are used for the same reason, right?
So I created a T-chart on the board. "Simile" titled the left column, and "metaphor" titled the second column. We first gave each of them the same definition: the comparison of two unlike things. We wrote that definition under each column. We focused on the fact that they both have the same function. Then I asked my students this important question:
If they are both the same, why are there two kinds?
And that's when I entered the key words "like" or "as" under the simile column. We discussed how similes have those key words inside of a comparison sentence.
Then we used this example of a simile: My sisters is a sweet as an angel.
It's not earth-shattering. It doesn't dig down in to the depths of great novelists. It just is a plain simile. And with this plain simile, my students were able to identify what/who was being compared, and they identified the key word AS.
Next, instead of giving an example of a metaphor, we took the simile above and we changed it in to a metaphor. Because we know that a metaphor has the same function, this was a simple task of rewriting the comparison without using like or as. And in a flash, we got this metaphor: My little sister is a perfect angel. Yes, we added some words. We did that to make sure our new metaphor made sure that the reader understood the meaning of the comparison.
We did a few more of these together. And each time we created a simile, we identified WHY it was a simile, and then we changed that simile in to a metaphor that made the same comparison.
Each morning of last week, I had my students write a simile comparing two unlike things in their morning warm up. Then, I had them convert them in to a metaphor. Did all students write perfect metaphors? No. But, for a new skill, most of my 4th graders have really grasped the idea.
And I think it all has to do with my different approach....