Attempting to reteach simile and metaphor to a group of four ninth graders today...
Me: Ok, so we know that a simile compares two things using the words like or as, right?
Students nod convincingly.
Me: Well, a metaphor also compares two things, but it doesn't use those words like or as. So instead of saying the girl had eyes like emeralds, we would say the girl had emerald eyes or the girl's eye's sparkled like emeralds. Does that make sense?
Students in unison: Uh huh.
Me: Ok then, let's try one. Let's think of a simile and then turn it into a metaphor.
Students stare blankly in my general direction.
Me: How about another example first? If I wanted to write a simile about clouds, I would think about what clouds are like... Well, they're white and fluffy, right? So I would think about what else is white and fluffy...hmmm. Cotton is white and fluffy, so I might say that the clouds looked like cotton balls floating in the sky. You with me?
Students: Yah. Uh huh. Yes! (Alex just nods coldly as is his custom.)
Me: Now, if I want to turn that simile into a metaphor, I need to get rid of the word like and make a more direct comparison. How could we turn that into a metaphor?
Angel: (enthusiastically) The clouds are white and fluffy.
Me: (deep inhale and long pause to look around for someone to correct Angel) Ummm, no, not quite. We're still going to compare them to cotton balls, we're just going to take out the word like. So we end up with the clouds are cotton balls floating in the sky.
Angel nods agreeably. Lara draws a cloud in her notes. Rico makes hilarious eye contact with someone across the room. Alex stares at me with dead eyes.
Me: (trying for enthusiasm, likely ending up closer to deranged determination) Let's try to write a simile and a metaphor about something. How about....the sun? What can we say about the sun? What should we compare it to?
Students look at me expectantly.
Me: (encouragingly, possibly crazily) You try! The sun is...
Angel: (gamely) The sun is...yellow!!!
Ricoo: (excited now) The sun is hot!!!
Me: (defeated) Yup. Ok. Uh huh. But we have to compare it to something. What else is yellow?
Rico: My shoes!
Laa: (disgusted with Ernesto) Chickens are not yellow, tonto.
Alex: (threateningly) . . .
I'm not entirely sure what happened after that as I entered a catatonic state for the remainder of the class period.