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Activity Overview


“The Gift of the Magi” contains a number of literary devices that can be taught alongside the story. Storyboards can be a simple way for students to identify and explain examples of these devices. Visual representation can also improve students’ retention of the concepts. Have students depict scenes, characters, or objects that convey examples of some of the following: symbols, irony, intrusive narrator, figurative language, allusion. Below each square, students should explain their reasoning.


Example “The Gift of the Magi” Literary Devices

Symbolism

The expensive objects Della and Jim buy each other are symbolic of their love. The items themselves have very little meaning - in fact, the couple puts them away for the time being. The selfless sacrifice that they represent, however, makes them precious.


Irony

The end of the story is an example of situational irony. Each character is faced with a circumstance that is the opposite of what they expected. This irony adds a trademark O. Henry's twist to the end of the story.


Intrusive Narrator

The narrator of "The Gift of the Magi" intrudes upon the story multiple times. When he draws our attention away from the characters and speaks directly to the readers, he is making his presence obvious to the reader. Like an actor breaking the fourth wall, he tells us to look away when Della and Jim are embracing.


Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/6] Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone)
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/6] Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows four examples of literary elements in “The Gift of the Magi”.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify use of literary devices in the text.
  3. Put the type of literary device in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.



Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



Literary Elements Rubric
Create a storyboard that shows different literary elements from the story.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Identification of Literary Elements
All literary elements are correctly identified.
Most literary elements are correctly identified.
Few literary elements are correctly identified.
Illustration
Illustrations show attention to the details of the story and demonstrate connection to the literary elements.
Illustrations demonstrate connection to the literary elements.
Illustrations show little connection to the literary elements.
Description of Literary Elements
Descriptions clearly explain what the literary elements do to enhance the story.
Most descriptions tell what the literary elements do to enhance the story.
Descriptions are unrelated to the literary elements.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not get in the way of understanding.
Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.
Text is very difficult to understand.




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