resources for literary techniques

A big part of teaching IB Diploma English A1 has been teaching commentary-style analysis, which is basically close reading. Students need to look at a passage of a text and explain how and why the author is using specific features of the text. It's an assessment task, but one which encourages great critical thinking skills and encourages students examine language, not just see through it as a medium for the text.

For me, teaching this skill involves helping students explore the interplay between the specific and the general, looking at ideas, feelings and impressions of a text and how the words and sentences create those ideas and feelings. The greatest challenge is for students to recognize a feature. I encourage them to talk about something that seems significant even if they don't know what it is called, but it doesn't seem to work that way. When my students give me feedback, they tell me they need a guide of what to look for.

I started with a glossary, something like this. It helped them define terms, but they needed a way to move through the features common to a text and see which might apply.

A few years ago, I had my students create diagrams of literary techniques using Organizing them by category seemed like a good way to approach it. Every year I give students a chance to revise them as they work with the commentaries, and so there have been several years of refinement for the first two. The last one we only made last year with MYP5 students, so we'll see how it goes. Here they are (click the image to view it at