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Building a Metaphor

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Language Arts And English +2 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Introduction:  Exploring the Legacy of Roberto Clemente

How does our world influence our lives and how do we contribute to the world? Far from Roberto Clemente’s birthplace of Puerto Rico stands a bridge in his name. In what ways does this bridge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, represent Roberto Clemente’s legacy? By applying Project Zero routines, student groups build bridges as metaphors to explore the legacy of Roberto Clemente.

Building Bridges: An Approach to Understanding Product and Process  

How might our Learning Lab investigation combine with the design process to deepen concept understanding and uncover complexity? What are the benefits of shifting our learning environments to cultures of contributions in communities of learning for all students and teachers?  What connections can we find between Roberto Clemente’s legacy and our construction process?  

Within the arc of the lesson are opportunities for teacher-led routines and independent/small group application. With a stress on process, the reflection opportunities are embedded within the design steps as students use thinking routines to translate research findings into elements of a bridge to share understanding. The thinking routines included within this collection are rooted in Project Zero research including Making Thinking Visible, Global Thinking, Agency by Design, and Edward Clapp's Participatory Creativity.

Procedure Part 1: Exploration and Documentation

The first phase of this lesson provides learners with opportunities to explore the life of Roberto Clemente. Begin by displaying the first piece in the collection, the portrait. Find a link to lines of inquiry by clicking the paperclip icon. Find questions and thinking models to promote close looking to help students make connections and support claims with evidence.  Document ideas and highlight the hanging questions generated with the goal of understanding Roberto Clemente’s life, or legacy.  

The next pieces in the collection go together. One is a link for learning the +1 Routine for viewing the other, the movie “What Roberto Clemente Meant to Baseball”. Allow the learners to share key concepts about Roberto’s Legacy adding to earlier documentation (suggestion: collect ideas on sticky notes and display on the board). 

Pose the question referencing the ongoing documentation: “What are we noticing about influence and contributions? What influenced Roberto’s legacy and what contributions did Roberto make to the world?”  Display Circles of Influence to Study Legacy for sharing and organizing this thinking as the research resumes. Model the process of taking the ideas collected during the exploration and placing them within the different circles (each circle could be a separate poster with another poster between them). 

The next steps could take different configurations, from teacher-led to small groups/individuals, to match the needed levels of support and modeling.  Using these learning lab resources, students explore the pieces and website links to interact and collect ideas. Over time, findings are shared on the class input/output posters based on the Circles of Influence to Study Legacy. Provide opportunities for the whole group to explain, discuss, and refine the findings. Keep this thinking visible for the next part of this lesson.


Procedure Part 2: Building Understanding Through the Construction Process  

Share how a bridge is named after Roberto Clemente located just outside of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball stadium, PNC Park. Ask how this might be a fitting symbol, or metaphor for Roberto’s legacy. By making connections to collective findings from Part 1, groups are tasked with building a symbolic bridge to represent Roberto Clemente’s legacy. Using the Parts/Purposes/Process routine, groups document the process contributions as well as how characteristics of bridge pieces (and the bridge as whole) connect to different aspects of Roberto’s legacy (look back at documentation from part 1).     

Materials and tools provided may vary (cardboard, construction paper, blocks, Legos…) depending on time, space, and age group. In addition, one member of each group is selected to document different types of contributions members make in the task. Meet with this set of observers to discuss the task and explain how they will also be doing this documentation while also participating. Review and provide the Participatory Inventory tracking sheet. Also, prepare large Parts/Purposes/Process charts for each group. The construction time is ideal for asking student groups to unpack the thinking as it takes shape.


When groups have completed construction and analysis, allow time for a gallery walk. The Connect-Extend-Challenge (connections to ideas documented by other groups) routine can support this type of thinking for closing discussions as ideas are shared about metaphor, process, and implications.