Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Of Scavenger Hunts and Metphors

Today during our writing institute at the Atlantic Center for the Arts we were asked to work in teams to create clues that would lead a group to an ah ha. We were designing a ten step scavenger hunt, a quest for a grand prize. We were direct to think about:  topic, audience, purpose, planning and procedures. we had roughly thirty minutes to construct our hunt for the other team.

Alexis, Mariel, Jacquie, Jeff and I brainstormed topics. We talked about leading the team through places that could inspire in order to guide them to the loft space in the library cottage and to quote bookmarks we made. We  decided to plan out places first and then the group worked on a pattern for the clues. I went to cut card stock into book mark strips while the team began clue writing.

We are the language arts team and it so happens that the other team is predominantly math and science teachers. Our clues were largely metaphorical.

We led them from the main museum building to several of the studio spaces in hopes they would end in the library loft.

One clue , Moby Dick, pointed them to a  whale sculpture on the path to the studios. Banana Split Republic arachnid style should have sent them to the large Banana Spider web along the studio walk way. "Can you smell-la-la-la what the rock has got cookin'!" was supposed to lead them to the communal kitchen.

Their clues. were cat themed and specifically directional. Clue 1: Head to the gallery and follow your feline instincts.

Immediately we knew where to go and the clue made me think: ledges. I headed to a ledge and found the second clue on a photograph of Paul Morrissey, Warhol filmographer with studio cat, Nik.

The team we sent out is still wandering the property. Our clues were largely metaphorical. And direction-ly challenged. We did not tell the other team where to go, "like to the gallery." 

What did we learn? We learned about process and planning. We talked about the importance of the end goal and making the end clear to students from the beginning. The other team realized they were afraid of failure. They did not want to return to home base without completing the course. They also thought, "They changed the game on us!" Ivet said that the experience puts educators in students' shoes. Elsie said "we wanted to prove to the other team that their clues helped us succeed."

My team talked about the big difference between literal and figurative language. For some, figurative language is great fun, for others the figurative can frustrate.  As a final note to my future teacher self: details matter and directions are not improved by metaphor.

The Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by the talented team at Two Writing Teachers.
Link up your slice on Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays. Thanks, Stacey, TaraDanaBetsyAnna and Beth.


  1. "Directions are not improved by metaphor." This may be the sub-title to a book! I think the distinction in clue styles is fascinating. Also the process, after the fact it seems, to determine what each goal perceived their unstated goal to be. Humans are so intriguing!

  2. On the other hand, metaphors are the way we understand new things! But you hit on the important thing: we have learners of all types in our rooms, and giving students multiple entry points is key.

  3. I love that you're doing this, & also sharing with us Lee Ann. I wonder if you had told them it was metaphorical that they would have been more open to imagining? Sounds like a wonderful exercise.