Synectics Model Lesson Plan
by Beth Williams
This lesson took place on November 13th and 14th at Boonesboro Elementary School during my fifth grade Language Arts class. The students were preparing to read the novel Hatchet written by Gary Paulsen. They had just finished the novel Sign of the Beaver. Both fictional stories are about young boys who survive very difficult circumstances. This introductory lesson gave the students opportunities to be creative and insightful in their thinking before writing about likenesses and differences between these two stories.
Hatchet written by Gary Paulsen
Sign of the Beaver written by Elizabeth George Speare
The student will describe a topic.
The student will create direct analogies.
The student will describe personal analogies.
The student will identify compressed conflicts.
The student will create a new direct analogy.
The student will re-examine the original topic.
I started this introductory lesson by asking each student to think of a wonderful trip that they had been on or would like to go on. I knew that this writing assignment would generate the adjectives that we needed to begin our work. I asked them to write about this trip in their writing folders. After they wrote for three minutes, I asked them to put down their pencils and underline all of the adjectives in their paragraphs. Some discussion was necessary for the students to remember that an adjective was a word that described a noun. Then I asked for the sharing of their words.
Every student raised a hand, wanting to contribute. We went around the room, with each child taking a turn calling their word out. I listed their word choices on the board. I have attached their adjective examples at the end of this work.
Next, I explained to the students that we were going to switch gears. We were going to create analogies. Since the students complete analogies every morning as a part of their daily work, this step did not need a great deal of explaining. They were a little confused that they only had to use their adjectives to describe a machine, and explain why these words reminded them of that machine. They are used to creating and explaining analogies that relate to word pairs only. Once they got the hang of this, we had some good machine ideas and lots of giggles. The students were very excited when it came time to vote. I have included the list of their ideas and their voting choices.
When we reconvened for Language the next afternoon, we began by writing about how it feels to be the candy machine. The students really got into this and had a hard time putting down their pencils when it was time to share. I filled the chalkboard with their ideas and explanations. I again have included a few of their writings and a list of the feeling words that they came up with.
Candy Machine Personal Analogies List
The students were able to find multiple pairs of words that conflicted or seemed to fight with each other in their personal analogies. They explained their thinking clearly and many also copied these word pairs into their writing journals as I listed them on the overhead projector. We had a runoff in our voting between the conflicting pairs proud/weird and lonely/loved, with proud/weird winning only slightly. This grouping of words was interesting to work with in our next step.
Our next direct analogy was to name a reptile that the chosen words reminded you of and explain why. I ran out of overhead room before the students ran out of ideas. I have included their list and the voting record for you to see this interesting outcome. The final reptile mentioned was described so vividly by the student who presented it that it won easily when we voted.
This part of the process was amazing to me. The students really thought about how a Komodo Dragon was like a trip. They came up with the following generated list:
They can both be big, long, and boring.
Seeing one (Komodo Dragon) and going on one (trip)
doesn’t happen very often
They both could be dangerous.
Encounters with both could be disastrous.
A trip and death from the bite of the dragon would
be long, grueling, and not very fun
Komodo Dragon and your form of transportation
for a trip could be exciting.
The final rewrite of our trip stories were much more creative. Again, I have included student examples. We will finish
the book Hatchet tomorrow. .