Lesson Plan

Interpreting Figurative Language and Theme Using The Gift of the Magi

Students explore the elements of figurative language, theme and vocabulary development through the O. Henry's classic story "The Gift of the Magi".
Carla J.
Technology coordinator
Darlington County School District
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies
Digitial Citizenship and EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.


English Language Arts
Grades 6 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Anticipation Activity

Edmodo can be used throughout this lesson. Whenever reading a novel or a short story in depth, I create a separate group for these studies. Here, a quick poll that focuses on the theme of giving is used to direct the student's focus on the story's theme.

2 Vocabulary Activities

I provide students with key vocabulary and definitions and they glue them into their ISN (Interactive Student Notebook). We spend time discussing the words and coming up with kid friendly terms. I allow them to use Quizlet to practice those words.

After practicing with the vocabulary words, students create "Visual Vocabulary" videos - demonstrating the word through video.

Students are required to include the following components in their video:

  1. Word
  2. Part of Speech
  3. Definition
  4. Acting out of the word

An example is provided in the resources.

3 Reading

Using the program Curriculet, students will interact with the text.  Embedded throughout the text are questions, annotations, and a quiz.  To assist struggling readers, the class listens to an audio version of the text as well.

Throught the reading, students will also respond in GoSoapBox (back channel) to answer thought provoking questions, make preditions and connections.

4 Guided Reading Activity (Figurative Language)

Here would be a good time to review the devices of figurative language.  I use Flocabulary's video "Word Play" to help review these terms.  If you're not a Flocabulary subscriber, this particular video can be found on YouTube.

Students will then re-read the text.  I use an app like NoteAnytime where students can annotate the text.  Students will highlight examples of figurative language while we re-read the text.

Students then create a digital craft.  I use Erin Cobb's (Lovin' Lit) resources found on TeachersPayTeachers.


5 Guided Reading Activity (Theme)

Here would be a good time to review theme.  I use LearnZillion's video.

Students will use PollEverywhere to create a word cloud of possible themes.

Students then create a digital craft.  I use Erin Cobb's (Lovin' Lit) resources found on TeachersPayTeachers.

6 Assessment (Novel Comprehension)

As a preview to the assessment, students will play Kahoot! and then take the formal assessment on Edmodo.