In my teaching experience, I have found the study of literary elements is best accomplished using an organized approach. My preference is to begin with characterization and then move to plot events, and from there study tone, mood, irony, and the use of figurative language. In order to maintain organization and methodic flow from one element to another, I rely on graphic organizers.
Graphic organizers provide concrete examples and build the foundation for utilizing literary elements in story analysis and literature discussions and responses. Additionally, my students are directed to use their literary element worksheets as sources for class and group projects. The following are reliable resources to find graphic organizers focused on literary elements. They also have accompanying classroom activities.
Internet searches have provided some great graphic organizer finds. One website is the Scholastic Teacher Resource page. There are a variety of organizers to choose from, as well as various student learning levels. I use the organizers dealing with characterization.
One activity I use with literary element organizers is based on characterization. In this introductory lesson I use the short story by Sandra Cisneros called “Eleven.” I love this story because all students can relate to the main character in one way or another. After reading the story, I have students work with a partner to complete the activity. Their task is to conduct a mock interview with the main character about the incident that occurs between the teacher and herself. Students must create a list of questions that will further explain the main character’s point of view, words, thoughts, or actions during the story. When students have at least five questions, I ask them to break off into new partner groups to share their questions. During this time students conduct their interviews with each student taking a turn to ask and answer questions. After the interviews, students independently complete a character sketch graphic organizer and journal entry sharing what they now know about the main character and what specific words from the story support their response. As a culminating activity, students create their own short story where a main character is described through an experience at school, home, or any setting the student feels is significant. Students are directed back to the graphic organizer during the drafting process in order to effectively create their characters. Graphic organizers are an effective tool in literary element instruction. The following are more creative lessons utilizing literary element worksheets.
Literary Elements Activities and Worksheets:
This is a one day lesson that uses a story map to identify various plot elements. This can be incorporated into a larger unit of study.
This lesson includes a worksheet that could be used with any novel or short story. It covers many elements including plot and characterization.
This is a quick resource to use for review and informal assessment means. The quiz covers many literary elements and uses a story called “A Boy and His Dog.”
This lesson teaches characterization as well as dialogue writing. In addition, students also learn and/or review other literary elements, such as setting and plot.