Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Metaphorical Thinking

K20 Center | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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Metaphorical Thinking

This strategy assists students in understanding and retaining abstract concepts by relating them to a familiar concept through metaphor.

Metaphorical Thinking


Students are introduced to a new concept and then brainstorm metaphors to connect the new idea to a familiar one.


  1. Introduce students to a new concept.

  2. Arrange students into small groups.

  3. Direct students to relate the new concept to an idea, object, or event they have encountered personally. (Alternatively, the teacher can provide an idea, object, or event for students to compare the new idea to, and the students must determine how the two are similar.)

  4. Students brainstorm metaphors in their small groups.

  5. Groups share their metaphors with the entire class.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works. ASCD Publishers.