My 7th graders had done a respectably good job using latitude and longitude coordinates to locate continents and oceans. They’d earned a short break from work, and being 7th graders, were bubbling over in excess energy. I offered a conditional reward of going to the gym if the entire class completed one more task and they comported themselves appropriately for the next thirty minutes.
About half-way through the assignment, two students began a bit of low-intensity horseplay. I cautioned the two, “you need to get back to work; you know I’ll pull the trigger on going to the gym if you don’t live up to our agreement.”
With that, one of the students asked, “what do you mean, pull the trigger?”
From the opposite side of the classroom came the type of response we teachers dream of hearing.
“Don’t you know what a metaphor is,” another student incredulously asked.
I immediately rewarded that student with a ticket.
I shared the incident at our staff meeting, the account receiving a spontaneous smattering of applause.
After school, I called the student’s mother who was delighted to receive the news about her son’s display of learning.