As teachers, we know that sometimes the hardest part of a teaching a unit is the launch. We also know that as teachers we wish that we had more time to devote to the launching of a unit, however, the reality is that often times a launch might consist of one or two minilessons. These are lessons we have used to launch a study of personification. Pick one or more of these lessons to launch your study. They are quick and easy to teach, and they can be modified to use with most texts. You can use the texts we have recommended, or substitute your own favorites. For much more information, pick up a copy of Teaching Interpretation: Using Text-Based Evidence to Construct Meaning, and see Chapter 1.
“5 Lessons to Launch Figurative Language with a Focus on Personification”
Minilesson #1- Use a mystery bag and remove an object such as a shoe. Have your students answer the following prompts: “What does the shoe love?” “What does it fear?” “What does it hope for?” Have a few students share their ideas and then introduce the concept, personification.
Minilesson #2- Read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Discuss how the tree has human-like characteristics. Have students generate claims, find evidence, and rethink their claims about how the author uses personification.
Minilesson #3- Read the poem, “The Train,” by Emily Dickinson. Model for your students how to find text evidence that reveals personification. Have students generate claims and find evidence.
Minilesson #4- Read the poem, “April Rain Song,” by Langston Hughes. Model for your students how to annotate the text and generate claims about why and how the poet creates personification in this text. (For additional practice and ideas see Georgia Heard’s Awakening the Heart for her exercise on “Word Guessing” for this poem.)
Minilesson #5- Use an excerpt from the 2013 Newberry Award winning text, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and have your students do a close reading in order to interpret why and how the author uses personification in the text.
Visit us again for additional minilessons we’ve used to launch the teaching of various literary elements. Enjoy!