A great way to engage your students is through the creation of storyboards that examine Tone, Word Choice, Imagery, Style, and Theme. This activity is referred to with the acronym “TWIST”. In a TWIST, students focus on the close reading of poem to look deeper at the author’s meaning.
Using the full text of “Mother to Son” or just a few lines, students can depict, describe, and analyze the way poetic elements work together to create a central message or theme.
|Grim yet determined: The speaker has struggled much in life, yet still pushes forward.|
|Hughes includes many words and phrases with negative connotations: tacks, splinters, boards torn up, no carpet, bare, dark, no light, kinder hard|
|“Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. It's had tacks in it and splinters, and boards torn up...” The staircase the speaker describes is an old, rickety, dangerous staircase, representing the difficulties of her life.|
|The simple dialect of the speaker suggests a life with limited educational access. The varied line lengths mirror the ups and downs of the staircase and the path of life.|
|Despite the difficulties of her life, the speaker keeps going. The central theme that this creates is the importance of persevering in the face of hardship.|
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Perform a TWIST analysis of a selection from "Mother to Son". Remember that TWIST stands for Tone, Word Choice, Imagery, Style, Theme.
Grade Level 6-8
Difficulty Level 5 (Advanced / Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual or Partner
Type of Activity: Prose Analysis with TWISTCommon Core Standards
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
| Proficient |
| Emerging |
| Beginning |
| Try Again |
Each aspect of TWIST is analyzed thoroughly and thoughtfully. The tone(s) is/are correctly identified and explained and are supported by evidence. The word choice uses a healthy sample of words from the excerpt that are loaded with connotation, associations, or emotional impact. The chosen imagery highlights sense impressions created by the writer and indicates the author's attitude or evokes a particular reaction from the reader. The author's style is discussed in terms of figurative language, point of view, literary techniques, punctuation, etc. The theme identified highlights the meaning of the passage and offers insight, and it is supported by evidence from the text.
Most of the aspects of TWIST are analyzed thoroughly and thoughtfully. In discussing the aspects, the student may have forgotten key evidence, or they may be unclear in their analysis. The student shows a basic understanding of each of the parts of the acronym, but may not apply them fully to the selected passage.
Most aspects of TWIST are provided with basic evidence and quotes from the passage. The student may be able to identify the elements correctly, but not be able to explain them completely or reveal insight. The discussion is rudimentary and/or may seem rushed.
Some aspects of TWIST are missing or too limited to score, or most of the aspects of TWIST are incorrect. The student makes no attempt to reveal insight in his or her analysis.
The depictions of each aspect of TWIST are accurate to the passage, or provide an interesting, creative, or insightful visual interpretation of the element in the passage. It is evident that the student spent a lot of time, creativity, and effort into carefully crafting each artistic depiction.
Most of the depictions of each aspect of TWIST are accurate to the passage, or provide an interesting, creative, or insightful visual interpretation of the element in the passage. It is evident that the student stayed on task and put time and effort into crafting each artistic depiction.
Most of the depictions of each aspect of TWIST are accurate to the passage, but they are minimal. There may be some inaccuracies or evidence that the student strayed from the task at hand. The student may not have paid much attention to detail in crafting each depiction, and there may be evidence of rushing or limited effort.
Some of the depictions of each aspect of TWIST are inaccurate, missing, or too limited to score. It is evident that the student did not put a lot of time, effort, and creativity into crafting each artistic depiction.
Ideas are organized. Displays control of grammar, usage, and mechanics. Shows careful proofreading.
Ideas are organized. Contains few errors in grammar, usage and mechanics. Shows some proofreading.
Ideas are organized. Contains errors in grammar, usage and mechanics which interfere with communication. Shows a lack of proofreading.
Contains too many errors in grammar, usage and mechanics; (and/or) errors seriously interfere with communication. Shows a lack of proofreading.