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High School — Reading
Literary Text

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    Literary Text

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      Activities: Advanced Work

      These activities can help your students reach the next level in their understanding of Literary Text.

      Write Flashbacks for the Author

      Toward the end of your study of a novel in class, ask students to think back to earlier events. Challenge them to write a flashback to this earlier scene.

      Isn't it Ironic?

      Shakespeare often uses dramatic irony, revealing information to the audience that remains hidden from the characters. Use such plays as Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth to illustrate scenes in which the audience possesses more knowledge than the characters, such as when Romeo comes to Juliet's grave or when the witches decorate Macbeth with the surprising title of "Thane of Cawdor."

      Based on these models, ask students to craft one-acts or scenes that use the device of dramatic irony. The characters in the student-written dialogues should have less insight into the events than the members of the audience. Students might perform their pieces, opening up a discussion of the choices they made as authors who consider the perspectives of both the characters and the audience.

      Choose Your Own

      What if Hester and Dimmesdale had lived happily ever after? Imagine what would have happened if Chinua Achebe's Okonkwo led his tribe to rebel against the British. How would things be different if Atticus had won the trial? Allow students to rewrite the endings of a few literary classics. Based on evidence from these stories, students can predict a different set of circumstances that seem plausible for the characters. Be sure that the writers support their new endings with evidence from the text.

      A Variation on a Theme

      Ask students to discuss a story's theme and how its parts -- characters, settings, events -- contribute to that theme. Then have students come up with a way to vary the theme. Perhaps they want to illustrate the opposite theme (for example, The early bird gets the worm instead of Slow and steady wins the race). Or, perhaps they want to substitute a new setting or a different character. How would one simple variation change the scope of the story, and why?

      All Together Now

      Ask students to study how an author's use of repetition relates to a text's main idea and theme. For example, you might have students study the chorus of a popular song. How well does it illustrate the song's theme? Or, you might have the class discuss the refrain of a poem. How would the main idea of the poem change if you eliminated all instances (or just the final instance) of the refrain?

      Mimicking Style

      Ask students to write a piece in a particular author's style. You might have your writers describe a friend in the style of Hawthorne, tell about a family vacation as Hemingway would, or narrate an account of a day at school in the voice of Dickens. Remind your students to choose words that reflect the choices these authors might have made.

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