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Standard 3: Critical Reading and Writing

Students will apply critical thinking skills to reading and writing.

 For more specific genre information, please refer to Genre Guidance (page 4 of the Support Documents.).


READING: Students will comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and respond to a variety of complex texts of all literary and informational genres from a variety of historical, cultural, ethnic, and global perspectives.

8.3.R.4 Students will evaluate literary devices to support interpretations of literary texts:

  • simile

  • metaphor

  • personification

  • onomatopoeia

  • hyperbole

  • imagery

  • tone

  • symbolism

  • irony

Student Actions 

Teacher Actions 

  • Students will explain how the literary devices contribute to their understanding of the text.

  • Students will judge how a combination of two things that are unlike, usually using the words like or as support the understanding of the text. (simile)

  • Students will judge how a direct comparison of two, unlike things, will support their understanding of the text. (metaphor)

  • Students will explain how human qualities on animals, ideas, or things contribute to their understanding of the text. (personification)

  • Students will explain the use of words that mimic the sounds they describe support their understanding of the text. (onomatopoeia)

  • Students will identify the use of words to express something other than the opposite of the literal meaning.  (hyperbole)

  • Students will explain how words represent objects, actions, and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses. (imagery)

  • Students will explain the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities for literary effect. (symbolism)

  • Students will explain the speaker’s attitude toward a subject. (tone)

  • Students will explain words that express something opposite of its literal meaning. (irony)

  • Students will explain a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. (idiom) 

  • Students will create visual representation and explanation of the most common idioms.  

  • Teachers model how to explain how literary devices support interpretations of literary texts. Example: Discuss how the author uses imagery to evoke a certain feeling in the reader.

  • Teachers provide opportunities for students to explain how literary devices support interpretations of literary texts.

  • Teachers provide opportunities for students to identify additional literary devices that may not be delineated in the standards, such as allusions and idioms, and the purpose of those devices. 

  • Teachers monitor student understanding of literary elements and give feedback as necessary.

  • Teachers select a method to use to evaluate text.

    • Students can use a literary method to evaluate literary devices (I.e. SIFT Method) SIFT is one method that will help the student explore how the writer uses literary elements and devices to convey meaning.  This method allows students to “sift” through the parts of the text.

      • Symbol: examine the title and text for symbolism

      • Images: identify images and sensory details

      • Figures of speech: analyze figurative language and other devices

      • Tone and Theme: discuss how

    • SIFT Bookmark

    • Sample SIFT Lesson

  • Teachers begin with modeling with a single text and then move to pair text.  

  • Teachers provide opportunities for deep reads with literary and informational text.  

  • Teachers will stress that similes make a comparison; the presence of “like” or “as” alone does not constitute a simile. 

Supporting Resources

Teacher Insights


  • Students need to go beyond identifying literary devices by discussing the impact each device has on the text.

  • Literary devices, or techniques, are similar to literary elements in that they are choices an author includes when writing, but they “are not universal or necessary in the sense that not all works contain instances of them” (Literary Devices).

  • Literary devices are style choices rather than essentials.

    • Different devices include those listed in the standard which can be found in the OSDE Glossary, but further explanations on these devices, along with other devices, refer to: literarydevices.com.  

    • Examples of these terms include:

      • simile: She runs like the wind.

      • metaphor: She is the wind when she runs.

      • onomatopoeia: Buzz, whoosh, and boom

      • personification: The wind whispered through the trees.

      • hyperbole: I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse!

      • idiom: It’s raining cats and dogs.

      • alliteration: Harry the happy hippo hula-hoops.

      • imagery: involves language that appeals to all senses

        • Sound: the splashing of the waves soothed us.

        • Touch: Wisps of milkweed seeds brushed against my face.

        • Taste: Saltwater is bitter on my tongue.

        • Smell: The mushrooms gave off a pungent odor.

        • Sight: The deep red of the maple leaves announced the coming of fall.

      • symbolism: Winter can represent old age.

      • tone: Tone can be serious, humorous, sarcastic, objective, etc.

      • irony:

        • Verbal: Terribly sunburned person says, “I am so glad I wore sunscreen today.”

        • Situational: Fire station burns down.

        • Dramatic: Audience knows the murderer is in the closet, but character is unaware and  is heading toward the closet.

  • It should be pointed out to students that any use of the word like is not necessarily a simile.

    • The statement I like ice cream is not a simile.

  • Likewise, any use of is or are is not necessarily a metaphor.

    • The statement His shirt is blue is not a metaphor.

  • Personification is the bestowing of human qualities on animals, ideas, or things.

    • Animals or objects as characters who talk are not examples of personification. The animals, ideas, or things must take on a human quality through comparison.

  • Students at this age will misidentify personification in the following ways:

    • When the action is what an animal and human can do.

      • Example: The cow was eating grass.

    • When the action is not something humans do.

      • Example: The thunder boomed outside.

Due to recursive nature of the standards, it is essential that teachers are aware of how all objectives within and between strands work together for optimal instruction.

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