Metaphorical Thinking is an activity targeted for students in Science courses, but could also be useful for students in Social Sciences and even STEM courses.
The activity challenges students to identify connections between concepts that on the surface appear to be very different. Thinking about similarities between seemingly dissimilar concepts can invite students to think more critically about those concepts and deepen their understanding.
1. Teach a mini-lesson on what metaphors are so students have background information on which to build.
2. Have students compare two different concepts. One idea is to have students do this in small groups using a graphic organizer. The teacher may consider creating or co-creating the categories of comparison for the graphic organizer with students to guide their comparisons.
3. After collecting their points on the graphic organizer, students can write a summary paragraph describing how the two concepts are similar. They can also include a visual image labeling the parts/similarities between the concepts.
Some examples of comparisons offered are:
How are the parts and functions of a cell similar to the parts and function of a city?
How does it feel to be a polluted river? (a more empathy-focused comparison)
“Mitochondria are like Wheaties because they give the cell energy. Both contain fat and proteins………”
You can imagine how comparing two concepts can also serve as a memory aid for students in advance of quizzes and tests.