One great way to determine if your students understand your aim is to ask them to generate a metaphorical statement that represents the aim. Let’s take for instance one of the Common Core State Standards (#3 for 8th graders). It asks students to analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
When teaching that standard, you could say
“A line of dialogue can make huge impact on a story like a game of dominoes. Or, the tile can fall and not knock down anymore. It all depends whether or not the other tiles, or characters, are impacted.”
Then, ask students to generate their own metaphor explaining the standard. Make sure they are prepared to explain why.
Like the other higher order thinking (HOT!) questions, metaphor questions require time for students to think about their answer and lend themselves to partner work. Metaphorical questions are great for building creative thinking and work really well in upper grades. The key is pushing kids to elaborate not only in how the metaphor works, but also in how it doesn’t work. It’s almost as if your students are creating the lesson’s hook for you. You might find that they make such a great metaphor that you can use it when you teach your next class! I try to include metaphor questions in lessons once a week. If you include them daily, their fun factor wears off.