Tomorrow, I’ll be having my mainstream ninth-grade English students do another activity to follow-up the lesson we did on Monday on how reading and learning literally helps neurons in the brain grow and get stronger (“Now I Know My Brain Is Growing When I Read Every Night”).

First, I’m going to explain the difference between “literal” language (I’m very hungry) and figurative (“I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”). I’ll also give a few examples of metaphors and similes.

Then I’m going to ask students to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. They will title the left-side “This Is Your Brain When It’s Not Learning.” They’ll label the right side “This Is Your Brain When It Is Learning.”

I’m going to give them the choice of either drawing it literally (using images from the video we used showing neurons growing and from pictures in the article we read) or figuratively (maybe they’ll draw something like a dying plant on the left and a blooming one on the right). I’ll show the short brain video again, and also show the famous “This Is Your Brain On Drugs” Public Service Announcement as an example of figurative language.

Posting these student-created posters on the classroom wall might be one way to help students remember what they learned.  Plus, I think it’ll be interesting to see which ones choose to show it literally and which go the figurative way.  Finally, it will be a good introduction to that vocabulary and concept.

I might post a collection of their drawings as a slideshow.  If it goes well, we might make videos illustrating the same concept.

Reactions are welcome, including suggestions on how to make it better.

(This lesson went great, and you can see examples of what students came-up with in this slideshow)