Analyzing Literary Devices

A common method of analysis is to read a piece of literature or informational text as a writer. This means that students analyze the author’s craft. One of the most accessible ways to do this is examine how different authors use literary devices.

At the beginning of our unit, I created this chart with a group of seventh graders. I added the four large sticky notes to the left side of the chart. Then, I told students that I was going to read a picture book out loud. I wanted them to listen and see if they noticed figurative language, symbolism, or irony in the text. Next, I read Jacqueline Woodson’s This is the Rope out loud. Then, I asked students what devices they noticed. One of the students suggested that the jump rope was a symbol. As a result, we explored symbolism. As a group, we moved through each of the steps, recording their ideas. At the conclusion, I told students that we would try this again tomorrow, but with a grade-level text. See ideas below for next steps based on the grade that you teach.


9 Analyzing Literary Devices

Grade Level Variations:

  • This standard does not begin until fourth grade.
  • For fourth and fifth graders I suggest targeting one of two specific devices and reading another picture book out loud. Repeat the experience from the day before. The next day, try it again by reading a book out loud, but have students work in small groups or pairs to analyze
  • For sixth graders consider expanded the list of devices up to four. I would still consider a shared text at this point, but move to a grade-level appropriate text.
  • For more proficient writers with strong understanding of literary devices, let them select a text of their choice and do not specify which devices they must write about. Allow students to explore and choose what they highlight.

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Article written by Dr. Rozlyn Linder

This is the official blog of Dr. Roz Linder, an academic, K-12 Language Arts Specialist, former elementary school teacher, high school journalism teacher, and all-around rabble rouser. I am interested in how we equip students to compete in a global community that grows increasingly flatter every millisecond and the practical application of communication pedagogy and Common Core standards.Situated at the intersection of cultural, racial, social, and digital literacy, my blog is all about fostering and supporting the recognition that we don’t teach in your grandad’s America and being happy about that. Let's stop telling students what to think or believe, but prepare students to think critically and often.

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