This week 2nd grade’s lesson is on similes and compliments. It’s a very heavily edited version of a former ETA’s lesson, but I’m rather proud of it because I managed to do something that students have been clamoring for but I personally don’t like doing in class – include a music video. Now I love music, but the thought of having to listen to the same song at least 20 times (more, if I play it for 1st grade) in one week is enough to make me steer away from including it in my classroom routine. I also just don’t really know how to incorporate songs – I don’t like just showing them as a hook without having the students somehow interact with the video, and my students are high enough of a level that I don’t want to do a random lyric-fill in (blank out some of the words and have the students listen and write them in), and I don’t have enough confidence in myself to teach my students how to sing a song. Couple all of that with choosing a song that has an appropriate message, appropriate video content (both appropriate for school, and also for their age – I don’t want to show anything too juvenile), AND understandable, and it becomes a nightmare. However, when you ask students what they want to learn in class and they say they want to hear and study pop songs, you should probably make the effort to teach at least one song.
I realized that the song “Firework” by Katy Perry was absolutely perfect for my similes and metaphors lesson. Not only did it have a great message (you’re unique, original, and you should “own the night like the Fourth of July”), but in every single stanza there’s at least one simile (ex: “do you ever feel like a plastic bag/drifting through the wind/wanting to start again?”) and the titular line of the chorus is a metaphor (“Baby, you’re a firework”). The video also shows many different types of people coping with difficult situations – there’s a kid who has cancer, a brother who wants to protect his younger sister from hearing his parents argue, a larger girl at a pool party who won’t get in the water because she’s self-conscious about the way she looks, a gay guy at a party who feels like he can’t be himself, a young kid with cancer, and a magician getting robbed (yeah don’t really get that one…). I was concerned about a few things with this video, but surprisingly enough my students made more of a big deal out of the fireworks shooting out of people’s chests (the first time you see it it’s a little strange) than the larger girl or the kiss sequence. To be fair, I haven’t taught this to any of my guys yet, so we’ll see how freaked out they get.
Watch here, it’s catchy:
I did a lyrics fill in but I took out all of the nouns in the simile and metaphor constructions and had students listen to the song and fill in the lyrics. We then went over the difference between a metaphor and a simile using examples from this song, went over how to construct similes, and then I had them construct similes about their partners. We then went over cultural differences in accepting compliments (in America you don’t refuse the compliment, you say “thank you” and try to use it to keep the conversation going), and then I called on some students and had them present their simile compliments and had their partners practice accepting the compliments.
During the guided practice some of them, completely unprompted, constructed similes about me. Here they are:
“Emily is as smart as a smart phone (Galaxy Note).”
“Emily is as friendly as my middle school friends.”
“Emily is as funny as a toy box.”