Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Shameless Plug - Teaching Inference Using Proverbs and Wise Sayings

 There's a new product on the Extreme English Teacher store:


When I was in sixth grade, Mr. Lewis wrote this saying on the board:

A dog with a golden collar is still a dog.

Then we had to each say out loud what we thought it meant.  My last name starts with A, so when I was in elementary school, that meant I was first on the list.  I said I thought it meant that no matter how a person dresses, they are still the same person inside.  Everyone else in the class said it had to do with a dog and Tommy (my particular bully in elementary school) went out of his way to make me feel stupid for thinking it was about a person when obviously it was about a dog.  It was a traumatic experience for me at the time, being called out like that in front of my peers.

Mr. Lewis let it go until everyone had spoken and then revealed that it was indeed about people, not about dogs.  He had some lesson to go with it that I long forgot (I told you, the class bully made me feel miserable and the justification of being right was a smaller reward than the price of feeling stupid for ten minutes of class time).  Though the lesson never left me, I did not think much about it until I became a ninth grade teacher and saw that my students were much like Tommy and friends (sans bullying).

Why did that seem obvious to me back then?  Well, I am quite the clever clogs, but I think it had much more to do with me being an avid reader.  I was just to reading between the lines.  My struggling students, however, were not.  So I resurrected the idea a few times over the years.  Once with Celtic proverbs, once with the teaching of Confucius, and once with the wise sayings as Saadi.


I've had great success with these and have used them as individual assignments, group work, and sometimes before a state test as whole-class activities.  They are great for getting kids to think figuratively.  Since the sayings are all short, struggling readers can focus in on the exact phrase and not get lost in a paragraph or page of text.

Or just keep some ready for when you have a 30 minute section of time that you need to fill or in your emergency sub plans folder.

So head on over to the store and try it out! 

Get the activity HERE!


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