If text features have a lot of vocabulary, literary elements have legions of it. It seems as though every time my students start feeling confident in their understanding of text features, and comfortable with the terms, the very next thing in the scope and sequence is literary elements. Thankfully some are terms they are already familiar with, such as character, setting, genre, and author’s purpose (we have a genre and author’s purpose wall in our classroom), but so many of the terms are new.
Similar to text features, we generally start our work with these terms by creating a reference for students to use. This time, instead of creating a book, we make foldable notes. The students cut on the solid lines and fold on the dotted (be sure to make extra copies, there’s always at least one student who cuts on the dotted lines). They then glue the top flap down and the back of the foldable to a page in their notebook. There are three different sets in all, for a total of 18 terms. To create the notes, students cut out the definition and example cards I provide, match them to the correct terms, and glue them with the definition on the back of the flap (term) and example under the flap. The final result is a fun set of notes, or glossary of sorts, that they can reference throughout the unit.
Once again, I created a digital version of this activity for our distance learning classroom this year. For this digital reference book (get the free template by clicking the link above or picture), I wanted something different than the text feature version. I realized that unless I had a slide with all of the definitions/examples, that students could cut and paste from, there would be no good way to provide them for students to sort. I decided instead that we would talk through the definitions and examples in class, and type them together. Since we didn’t need as much room for literary elements as text features (no pictures), I didn’t want to dedicate entire slides to just a couple of sentences. Instead, I made each slide resemble what it would look like if the student had folded the flap behind the page. I made the first page by listing all of the literary elements in their own boxes. I then copied and pasted that page, removed the first element, and replaced it with a white text box divided into two sections (definition/example). I repeated this process, copying and pasting the first slide, replacing the next element in turn, until all 18 terms had a slide. The final slide is where I put my answer key. Students click on each element and are jumped to the place where they can enter a definition and example for it. Each of the slides also have a “close element” button that will return them to the main slide, where they can select another element. To add the definitions and examples the slides must be in edit mode. After this, the slides can be used in present mode, or published to the web.
After we take notes, there are many other activities we do. The most popular of which is Literary Elements Memory Game. I print the literary elements terms on one color of card stock, and the definitions on a second color. For added durability, I laminate the pages before cutting the cards apart (cold lamination is great for this, it never peels). In groups of 2-4, students then mix up the terms and definitions, and lay them out face down on the table. Students take turns turning over one card of each color, and seeing if the term and definition match. If a match is made, the student takes the cards and repeats his/her actions. If a match is not made, the student turns both cards back over, and play proceeds to the next person. My students enjoy this game, and it gives them a lot of practice with the terms. Sometimes I add an extra layer to the game by saying each match is worth two points. If a match is not revealed, students can earn points by giving a definition for the term turned over, and/or giving the correct term for the definition showing. This way every turn has the potential of earning students two points.
This activity does have a digital replacement as well. I chose to make a literary elements drag and drop sort. The 18 terms are on the left side of open books. In a lower corner of the slide there is a pile of the right side of the open books. On the right side are the definitions for the terms. Students drag a definition off the pile and drop it next to the corresponding term, forming a complete book. As with all Slides drag and drop activities, this one is not self-checking, but the answer key is on the last slide.
Teaching vocabulary out of context is not my preferred method, but we don’t always get an option in these things. I hope these ideas will give you some inspiration for your own classes. Happy teaching, everyone!