A growing trend in ELA has been the incorporation of vertical teaming strategies in classrooms. These strategies include a number of acronyms, analogous to “PEMDAS”, but for English class. This “order of operations” helps students through a prose analysis by suggesting to them what and where they should start when interpreting a section of literature.
With the TWIST method, students are asked to look for and analyze the following terms: tone, word choice, imagery and detail, style, and theme. When completing a TWIST, students may use a paragraph or even a few pages, looking at each of these items systematically, both sequentially and as they relate to each other. For example, when examining tone and word choice, students should find a correlation between the two. The graphic above illustrates how each part of the TWIST should be connected, as each element overlaps with those adjacent to it.
Before reading, it is a good idea to introduce students to the steps of TWIST and go over any terms that may be new to them.
The general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc. Tone words should always be adjectives and convey one of the following attitudes: Positive, Negative, Humorous (Ironic/Sarcastic), Sorrowful (Fearful, Worried), or Neutral.
The author’s use of specific and accurate words, to “show” the reader rather than to “tell” them. Adjectives are extremely descriptive, and nouns are very particular. When looking for word choice, students will notice ‘clusters’ of words that evoke the same meaning or tone.
Imagery is visually descriptive or figurative language in a literary work. For this element, students want to look at the use of onomatopoeia, alliteration, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, analogies, personification, and euphemisms. These are all details that the author will use to give a sense of emotion to the reader. Very descriptive, figurative language paints a picture in readers’ minds, making this term exceedingly important for students to examine.
The subject of a piece of writing, usually the author's thoughts on a specific topic. When looking at theme, students should use the other parts of the TWIST to piece together information about the author's intentions. By looking at the tone and imagery, it makes it possible to pinpoint the topic. From there, students will need to infer the author's thoughts on it. Using imagery and style will help them uncover the attitude of the author on the topic.
This lesson will overview the TWIST model of interpreting prose and assist students in learning how to use this systematic method of hypothesis and discovery. This will lead students to understand the deeper meanings contained in the text by completing a prose analysis.
Although, this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels, below are examples of the Common Core State Standards for Grades 9-10. Please see your Common Core State Standards for the correct grade-appropriate strands.
Students will be able to read and explain the elements of prose using the TWIST method on a segment of a literary work.
Using the first paragraph of “The Scarlet Ibis”, students can depict, explain, and predict what will happen in the story, while getting a good idea of the author’s voice in a prose analysis.
It was in the clove of seasons, summer was dead but autumn had not yet been born, that the ibis lit in the bleeding tree. The flower garden was stained with rotting brown magnolia petals and ironweeds grew rank amid the purple phlox. The five o'clocks by the chimney still marked time, but the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle. The last graveyard flowers were blooming, and their smell drifted across the cotton field and through every room of our house, speaking softly the names of our dead.
|Grief: Memories of those who have died; perhaps a child.|
|Dead, not born, bleeding, strained, rotting, brown, ironweeds, rank, untenanted, empty cradle, graveyard, drifted, dead.|
|“…the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle.”: Image of an empty nest.|
|The author is using foreshadowing in the following lines: “summer was dead, but autumn was not yet born”; “…last graveyard flowers were blooming”; “speaking softly the names of our dead”.|
|The narrator speaks in a past tense tone using words and imagery that sound like the theme could be the passing or memory of a loved one.|
If this is your first time doing TWIST with your classes a great idea is to ask students to try filling out the worksheet individually then pair them up, or put them into groups, to create a poster. As you do these more often, you can challenge students by asking that they do it individually.
Once they have finished their worksheet and it has been checked, students can begin to create their storyboard of the prose analysis. Afterwards, you can have students present their storyboards and findings to the class! Just check out our article on how to present a storyboard!