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How Figurative Language Enhances the Complexity of Nonfiction Texts. Julie LaFollette Teacher-Consultant UC Merced Writing Project June 24, 2013. Two Participant Roles. Student : D o what my students do—experience the learning for yourself.

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how figurative language enhances the complexity of nonfiction texts

How Figurative Language Enhances the Complexity of Nonfiction Texts

Julie LaFollette

Teacher-Consultant

UC Merced Writing Project

June 24, 2013

two participant roles
Two Participant Roles
  • Student: Do what my students do—experience the learning for yourself.
  • Teacher: Reflect on how you might apply your learning to your own classroom environment.
quick write
Quick Write

Think about a place you’ve visited recently. In the few minutes you have to write, describe that place, what you do there, and your feelings associated with it.

share
Share

Choose a partner. Then designate a Partner A and a Partner B.

  • Partner A: Read your draft.
  • Partner B: As you listen, make a list of impressions you have of the place your partner is describing.

When Partner A is finished reading, Partner B will share his/her impressions.

Repeat the steps in reverse.

reflection
Reflection

Think about the discussion you had with your partner. Did your partner “get” your writing? Do you think he/she has an accurate impression of your emotions associated with that place?

slide6

“We can no longer approach all writing with one set of criteria, assuming that one size fits all. It may be that, ultimately, we value some general qualities, such as ‘organization’ or ‘quality of ideas.’ But we now know that the strategies that make good organization in a personal narrative may differ from the strategies that make a good report of information or a good persuasive letter. And we need to help students understand what those differences are, both by the way we teach and the way we evaluate their writing.”

Charles Cooper and Lee Odell

Evaluating Writing

slide7

The 19th century model of education “failed to distinguish between knowledge about language and experience with how language is used…This was a pedagogic view of writing not unlike the idea that a young person could learn to drive a car by memorizing state motoring laws and reading a repair manual…such texts might help a driver save on repairs, memorize rules of the road, and pass the written test, but that knowledge is no substitute for sitting behind the wheel and driving in a variety of conditions, preferably with an instructor in the passenger seat.”

Carl Nagin

Because Writing Matters

mentor text
Mentor Text

“Jury Duty” by William Zissner

Excerpted from

The Norton Book of Personal Essays.

slide9

In Zissner’s text, find examples of figurative language and highlight or underline them.

Here’s an example of a metaphor from the second paragraph:

The chair that I sit in is

a little island of apartness.

slide10

“Often without consciously realizing it, accomplished writers routinely rely on a stock of established moves that are crucial for communicating sophisticated ideas. What makes writers masters of their trade is not only their ability to express interesting thoughts, but their mastery of an inventory of basic moves that they probably picked up by reading a wide range of other accomplished writers.”

--Gerald Graff & Cathy Birkenstein

They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing

two ways
Two Ways
  • Organic
  • Organized
slide13

In a graphic organizer, record the examples of the figurative language. Then discuss with your partners the ideas and emotions readers would attach to each example.

slide14

In a graphic organizer, record the examples of the figurative language. Then discuss with your partners the ideas and emotions readers would attach to each example.

consider your work
Consider Your Work
  • What impressions of jury duty do we get simply from the figurative language employed by the author?
  • Could these same impressions be as effectively conveyed without figurative language? Why or why not?
slide16

“…reading and writing across genres can benefit all attempts at writing, no matter the genre. For example, I may not ever publish a poem, but I routinely write them because the effort nourishes and gives me insight into my prose. The intent is to keep my mesh of writing experience strengthening as it expands.”

--Bob Fecho, Writing in the Dialogical Classroom

now revise
Now Revise!

Consider the piece you wrote. Think about how you might incorporate a simile, metaphor, vivid imagery, or another type of figurative language to help your reader more deeply connect with your topic.

slide18

“We learn to write by writing. We become better writers when the writing we do springs from the riches, embarrassments, victories, tragedies, conundrums, concerns, delights, and, yes, even the routines of our lives…The only way we can begin approaching fluency with…complexity is to write, write often, write in context, write with purpose, and write until the keys on our word processors become indistinguishable from one another.”

--Bob Fecho, Writing in the Dialogical Classroom

two sides student teacher
Two Sides: Student & Teacher

Write to Reflect. As you do so, think about:

  • What does this type of analysis, reflection, and revision do for students?
  • How might you incorporate this practice in your classroom?
slide20

“Our writing [is] interconnected. The writing I jot today feeds my writing tomorrow, which nourishes or perhaps inhibits my work on a third day. As such, lower-stake, more tentative, and more frequent writing experiences…merge into higher-stake, more polished responses…that then result in more cumulative, more refined, and accomplished pieces.”

--Bob Fecho, Writing in the Dialogical Classroom

student examples
Student Examples

My earliest memories as a child was looking forward to the end of school so I could ride the bus to my Ava’s house to spend time with my cousins. We would stay there and play and everyday, she would come with  the greatest, most savory food the world has known. Starting with toast, but this toast, this crunchy, magnificent blend of buttery goodness and heated dough is the best toast you would ever have. To wash it down was the great, Ava’s red juice, as it was known as. This tangy blend of known and possibly unknown fruits created a refreshing elixir of ice cold satisfaction leaving satisfied red mustaches all around us children.

Underlining indicates student revision.

slide22

I hear the sound of loud laughter from the roaring Italians in the small dining room that hold the most memories. This dining room table lives in the home of one of the people I look up to most. My Nana. “Do not call me ‘grandma’ it makes me sound old,” she says often. Surprisingly, this sentence describes her whole personality. By the end of her famous line she is drowning in her legendary giggle, and her confidence pours out when these words roll off her tongue. When I see my Nana, I see happiness, and that’s what a fulfilled life is about.

slide23

“Guidance in the writing process and discussion of the students’ own work should be the central means of writing instruction…Students should…be encouraged to develop the critical ability to evaluate their own work, so they can be come effective, independent writers in the world beyond school.”

Jim Burke

Writing Reminders: Tips, Tools, and Techniques