Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject
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Metaphors and analogies are more than figurative language suitable only for English classes and standardized test questions. They are power tools that can electrify learning in every subject and at all grade levels. Metaphors show students how to make connections between the concrete and the abstract, prior knowledge and unfamiliar concepts, and language and image. To exploit these powers, however, teachers must learn how to use metaphors and analogies strategically and for specific purposes, helping students discover, create, and deconstruct effective comparisons. In this thoughtful and nuanced book, Rick Wormeli examines a wide range of powerful metaphors--from the rhetoric of political speeches to mathematical models to concrete spellings and body sculptures that symbolically portray abstractions. Metaphors & Analogies is filled with provocative illustrations of metaphors in action and practical tips about using metaphors to improve assessment, professional development, and symbolic sensing. Imagine the possibilities
Activating background knowledge refers to students re-engaging with material already learned as a way to get the cognitive centers of their brains working and making connections. It may mean Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject by Rick Wormeli. © 2009 Stenhouse Publishers. No reproduction without written permission from the publisher. 39 40 Metaphors & Analogies reminding students of past experiences. When teaching the concept of air as mass we ask students to remember
you are into the arts,” I told them, “we’re going to use your strengths to process what we’ve learned about Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle. On Thursday of next week, groups of three to four students will each present to the class the definitions of all three corners of the triangle as well as the impact of having and not having all three aspects in your argument. You may use any fine or performing art technique, but not the written word.” Students thought for a minute before one boy asked,
Analogies representative democracy? In physics, is M-theory the new string theory? In literature study, is this character the Atticus Finch of the story? In sociology or politics, is Facebook the new town hall? Each comparison should include an explanation. Let students critique the claims. This is a good time to model and build the skills of civil discourse along with metaphor making. Learning Is to Analogy as Teaching Is to . . . An analogy is a major subset of metaphorical thinking.
is hell.” World War I propaganda prompted many young men to volunteer for military service. The disillusionment and lost innocence that resulted are richly portrayed in Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel, All Quiet on the Western Front; many high schools and middle schools include the book in English and history curriculums, which presents a great opportunity for metaphorical exploration. Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject by Rick Wormeli. © 2009 Stenhouse Publishers.
candidate is a symbol of animosity toward the current leader. Synecdoche: A type of metonymy in which a specific part of something is used to refer to that larger something, such as “Many hands cleaned the park on Saturday,” where hands are an actual part of the people who cleaned the park. Metonymy can also include those phrases where the smaller item of reference is only associated with the larger category, but is not literally a part of it. In the example “The White House blocked the tax