Here’s an embarrassingly weak question I used to ask my students:
Which type of figurative language is used in this sentence?
“By 12:40, Mr. Byrd was so hungry he could have eaten a walrus.”
The big problems? It’s a one-off question that’s at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy. I didn’t ask any follow-ups. Once they identify that it’s hyperbole, they have nowhere to go. The next question moved on to a new idea. My most brilliant writers were stuck just identifying the type of figurative language.
So nowadays, I’d rewrite this as a sequence of questions that will push students towards higher-level thinking.
When I don’t know what to do, I aim for Analyze. Can I get students at least comparing, contrasting, or categorizing? To do that I’ll need a second example of figurative language. How about: “Then, I was so thirsty I could have swallowed each of the seven seas and still asked for a refill.”
Ok! Now I can ask my students:
What makes the second example a more effective use of figurative language?
Could you rewrite the first example to be even better than the second example?
Another step? Sure!
Read several of your classmates’ rewrites. Look for three categories: needs more, just right, and too much. Use this to give your version a final rewrite.
This sequence of questions is so much better, right? It takes students deep into the content. And note that we don’t need artificial “On-Level” and “Above Level” groups? By aiming high, we get differentiation built in. Yes, that means that some students won’t get all the way to the end of the sequence. But that’s literally differentiation! Students should be doing different things.
For Byrdseed.TV Members
Byrdseed.TV folks! I have a whole series of lessons about improving (not just identifying) figurative language. If you lead PD, [there’s a video version of this sequence](https://www.byrdseed.tv/professional-development/beyond-identify-figurative-language/) to use in professional development!