Day 1: Have a ten-minute discussion to define the terms "metaphor" (a direct comparison of two unlike things) and "symbolism" (for example, an object or person that stands for or represents something else and often can express multiple meanings), providing examples from current classroom reading. The discussion should focus on how a metaphor is a descriptive symbol for another thing. Ask students for other examples they are familiar with. Even if students are already familiar with the term, have this discussion so that comparison can be made to Lange's use of metaphor in a visual form.
Using the photo-analysis questions below, students discuss the Lange photograph Indonesia, considering both the image and the title, to explore how the image is a metaphor.
What do you see, think, and feel when you look at this photograph?
What sort of response do you think Lange wanted you to have?
How did Lange "frame" her picture of these children?
What patterns or repeating motifs can you find in this picture?
Why do you think that Lange included only her subjects' feet in this picture?
What can you say about the people in this photograph just by looking at their feet?
What is the relationship between the feet and the title of the photograph? What do the feet tell you about Indonesia?
Provide information on Lange's life from background material (page B1). Why do you think she might have been especially interested in feet?
What elements make feet either an accurate or an inaccurate gauge of who someone is?
Have students discuss the differences and similarities between written and visual metaphors. Is one more telling or powerful than the other, or do they both have unique strengths? If they were going to express Lange's metaphor in words, how would that read?
Day 2: Have students write for ten to fifteen minutes to begin to develop a concept for a personal metaphor. Students may write either in journals or on single sheets of paper. Questions to get them thinking include:
What hobbies do you have?
What items or objects do you collect?
What events in your life have had a profound effect on you?
To what things in your life do you feel a special connection?
Pick one object to stand as a metaphor for you and write about why this object symbolizes you. Or pick an event in your life that you can represent metaphorically.
Have students read what they wrote and discuss their responses.
Day 3: Give students an 11-x-14-inch sheet of paper and explain that they will visually express the personal metaphor they previously developed.
Give students the option of finding ready-made imagery by clipping or photocopying from a magazine, newspaper, Internet site, photograph, or book, or by drawing their response using pastels or colored pencils (if available).
Ask students to arrange and affix the images to the paper, and include a title written directly on the collage/visual. Have them think creatively about how to include the title. It may simply be a caption in the corner, or it may be incorporated into the image in some way.
Have students write two to three paragraphs that answer some or all of the following questions:
Why does this object represent you or the event in your life?
How did you decide to choose this particular object or group of images?
Can you pinpoint the exact aspect or quality of the object that compels you?
What emotions do you feel when you see this object?
How long has this object been something you relate to?
Is there any past experience or event in your life that gave this object special significance?
What might this metaphor tell others about you?
Have students make an oral presentation about their work of art and their writing, discussing how the two things relate.
English-Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
1.2–Identify and interpret figurative language and words with multiple meanings.
3.7–Explain the effects of common literary devices (e.g., symbolism, imagery,
metaphor) in a variety of fictional and non-fictional texts.
1.1–Identify idioms, analogies, metaphors, and similes in prose and poetry.
1.1–Analyze idioms, analogies, metaphors, and similes to infer the literal
and figurative meanings of phrases.
3.6–Identify significant literary devices (e.g., metaphor, symbolism, dialect,
irony) that define a writer's style and use those elements to interpret the
Grades 9 and 10
1.1–Identify and use the literal and figurative meanings of words and understand
2.5–Extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original
analysis, evaluation, and elaboration.
3.7–Recognize and understand the significance of various literary devices, including
figurative language, imagery, allegory, and symbolism, and explain their appeal.
Grades 11 and 12
Listening and Speaking
1.3–Interpret and evaluate the various ways in which events are presented
and information is communicated by visual-image makers (e.g., graphic designers,
documentary filmmakers, illustrators, news photographers).
National Standards for English-Language Arts
4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language. (e.g.,
conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of
audiences and for different purposes.
5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different
writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences
for a variety of purposes.
6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g.,
spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre
to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own
purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).