Analogies

Need an anti-set for tomorrow?
Have to cover something boring?
If the answer to either of these questions was yes, do what I tell you.  If the answer to both of these was yes, 1) way to procrastinate, slacker, and 2) procrastinating isn’t going to make it any more interesting, so sit down and do your damn lesson plan. 
How to kill anywhere from five to twenty minutes of Your Class With a Ridiculously Simple Yet Entirely Academically Valid Shenanigan*
*singular of shenanigans.  Not really sure if it exists, but that’s never stopped me before.
The prep work on this might stress a few of you overachieving academic types out.  But you can’t have a decent lesson without a little prep work.  So…as strange as it may be…  
  1. Read through this first chunk of six instructions in its entirety before acting.
  2. Get up and walk to your bathroom.
  3. Open your bathroom cabinet of choice.
  4. Pull out the first object you see.  Make note of what it is.
  5. Return object to cabinet.
  6. Resume reading blog.
Ready?  Go!  Don’t worry about me.  I’ll wait here…
Got it?  Ok, now, write down the name of the most boring concept you’re teaching tomorrow and let’s put it all together.  Insert your personal selections into the following half sentence:
(Boring concept of the day) is like (bathroom cabinet object) because…
Voilá.  Your anti-set.
….
cricket chirp…
….
What?  Don’t sit there looking at me, all disappointed-like. I know analogies are old ed school class fodder for how to teach.
“Aw, c’mon, Teach.  We expect more out of you than old ed school class fodder.” 
Yeah?  Well, how about this… most of you whiny-butts don’t have a clue how to use analogies.  So before I go on to tell you how to kill five to twenty minutes of your next class, lemme lay some ground rules, first.*
*If you are short on time and/or wish to avoid a standard Singing Pig rant, kindly scroll down to where it says “3 Ways to Use Analogies.”
Singing Pig basic rules for using analogies (that most teachers and ed classes screw up.)
  1. They can’t be boring.  
Q. “Reading a poem is like jogging through the countryside because…” 
A.  “…I don’t give a rat’s ass about doing either, you dull, hippie, boring-face.”
Just one of many possible hypothetical answers, mind you.  
     
       2.  They can’t be obvious
Q.  “Reading is like exercise because…”
A.  “…you get better with practice.  They’re both good for you.  You have to do both at school…I’m so not interested in what you’re teaching that I’m going to whack my neighbor upside the head and then wad up paper to throw across the room at the trashcan.”
Again, hypothetically speaking.
If it isn’t bizarre (or at least offering the possibility to open the bizarre door, you’ve just limited your kids’ creativity as well as the variety of responses you’re going to get.  You’re leading them in what they should say, you’re not using higher level thinking skills and boring the tar out of them.  Shame on you.  Now you’ll just have to read a bunch of mediocre crap.  A sad result of using mediocre teaching.  But I seem to have gotten on the soapbox.  Let me finish up my rules real, here, and we’ll get back to your plan for tomorrow.
3. You’ve got to connect the analogy directly to the lesson.  You can’t just have an analogy about reading, then read in class and expect the students to get something out of it.  Relate it back. Explicitly. Review. Recycle.  Scaffold the crap out of it.  Whatever you want to call it.
Really, that’s pretty much it.  Be interesting, be relevant.  Not rocket science…but…
I’ll stay off the soapbox.  
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.  With a special “welcome back!” to those of you who chose to bypass our latest rant.
3 ways to use analogies
The five minute plan:
  • Write your half on an analogy as an anti-set.  Have students complete it.
  • Pair, share
  • Give students 10 seconds to find a new partner
  • Pair, share
  • Share best answers with class, however, create the rule that they can’t share their own answer – only one they heard.
  • Consciously reference some of their shared answers multiple times throughout the class.
The 10 minute plan:
  • As an anti-set, write an analogy for students to complete.
  • Rather than pair sharing, have students pass their paper to another student.  That student must then some how add on to, extend out, or give another example of their friends analogy.
  • Pass papers again. Add one concrete example or real life application to the newest paper.
  • Continue passing between 5 and 10 times, each time students receive a new analogy from one of their classmates, and add a concrete example or real life application to each.
  • Return analogies to original authors.  Allow time to read.
  • Have each student synthesize their analogy and their classmates’ responses into a an organized paragraph explaining how their analogies are accurate reflections of the concept covered in class and why that matters.  (Don’t miss out on your chance to teach basic writing skills here — clear topic sentences, transitions words, etc.)
The 20+ minute plan:
  • As an anti-set, have students write an analogy of their own for other students to complete.  (I’d suggest giving them a variety of concepts from the unit to choose from here…it would work as a good end of unit review)
  • As in the 10 minute plan, have students pass papers.  This time, however, instead of giving examples of an analogy, each students has to complete their classmates’ analogies in a unique way.  When the paper finally makes its way back to the original owner, the owner should have a number of answers to their original analogy.
  • Pass as many times as you like (to give students fodder)
  • Send papers back to original owners, allow to read.
  • Put students in groups of 3-4.  They share answers, and select the top three analogies from all of their lists.
  • Groups prepare a detailed explanation of how those three analogies accurately reflect said concept(s) and then present their explanation to the class.  For fun, require illustrations as part of the explanations
If you’re giving this much class time to the analogies, I’d suggest you use at least a simple rubric to grade their presentations. 
Phew.  Done.
Was that a little too much serious ed speak for you?  Yeah?  Ooohh…look at my face…see my face?  That’s me, not caring.
Do it.  And if you try and replace my bathroom object piece of it with something more “acceptable,” don’t blame me if it goes over like a lead balloon.  I’ve heard every excuse in the book for teachers pooh-poohing a little weird fun in the classroom.
“Well, that works for your kids because they’re smart.  We work with a much harder population.”  
Oh, shove it.  No wonder your kids are underachieving.  You just called them stupid.
“You teach languages, so that’s easy for you to do.  It doesn’t fit things like science or math.” 
Wait…wait…seriously?
“Cell reproduction is like…”
“Evolution is like…”
“Whole numbers are like…”
“Factoring rules are like…”
Oh! Oh!  I’ve got an analogy for you!
“Excuses are like arseholes, because…”
Google it, if you haven’t heard the end to that one, dearies.

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