Distance Learning: Teaching Literary Devices

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Distance learning, remote learning, virtual learning … whatever you want to call it, we’re in the middle of it. So what do we do to make sure students are doing meaningful work? One thing we can do is cover or review literary devices.

Literary devices are the cornerstone of any ELA classroom, and we can’t spend enough time reviewing them. I know this because I teach seniors, and while they do a good job remembering what they are, a lot of times they struggle with how they are being used.

I use this analogy for them. If you are building a house, you don’t want to just be able to identify the tools and materials used to build it. You need to be able to tell how to use them and what each of them does. If they can’t do that you get vague phrases like “imagery is used to paint a picture” which is the bane of all English teachers!

I have some resources designed for teaching literary devices and how they work that work perfectly for the digital learning environment in some cases with a few small modifications. For one thing, they start with an engaging comic to get students interested in the topic. They will get students interacting with them in meaningful ways so they truly understand what they mean.

Similes and Metaphors

Similes and Metaphors Comic and Activities covers the basics of the most commonly used literary device. Students will work to create their own similes and metaphors, analyze a political speech (one I made up), and analyze an Emily Dickinson riddle poem.

Possible modifications for distance learning: You can divide the lesson any way you see fit based on how much work you would like them to do for the day. You can also use this to explore similes and metaphors in a novel they are reading. Or give them a few more poems to read that explore similes and metaphors. Poetry is a great distance learning resource because you can tackle one or two a day.


Allusion Comics and Activities includes a scavenger hunt for allusions in everyday language, the analysis of the use of Cupid as an allusion in Dickinson and Shakespeare, an in-depth analysis of Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and Poe’s “To Helen” as well as an allusion research project. Lots of stuff to do here.

Possible modifications for distance learning: You could get a week’s worth of lessons out of this if you stretch it out.

Turn the allusions research project into an online search. Have them scan their social media accounts. If they don’t have social media have them look through Google News. How many can they find?

Alternatively, do the research project before the scavenger hunt and just have them track instances of the allusion they researched in everyday language.


Idioms Comics and Activities covers those weird expressions we all use. They are a ton of fun to study. There’s a small research project on the history of particular idioms as well as a gallery walk activity.

Possible modifications for distance learning: Expand the research element of it and include citations and a works cited page (another thing you can’t review enough!) For the gallery walk, have students complete the drawing and hand it in electronically. Then you can post them around your virtual classroom as a Google Slide that you can share with your students. Or just create a Power Point and upload that for them. Then they can see everyone’s and comment, just as they would if they were walking around the room.

Another thing you could do is have students film themselves presenting their idioms. A digital learning tool like Flipgrid, which has expanded their free content to allow for larger numbers of students to participate.

Still Need More Stuff?

I have a bunch of other activities for you.

Looking to teach poetry? Check out Poetry Comics and Activities for Analysis. Nothing will make classic poems more approachable than comics. Each comic features a poet talking about one of their classic poems with additional activities for analysis. Each would be perfect for one day’s lessons.

Looking to do Shakespeare? My Shakespeare products, like this one on Romeo and Juliet, give students an overview of the entire play through comics, which will be helpful for students who are reading the play at home. Each set contains warm-up activities and creative responses that will give students meaningful ways to interact with the text.

Looking to brush up on common writing errors? Check out my Editing Comics Bundle with comics that illustrate those pesky errors that students make in their writing with review activities. Each would be worth a day’s lesson, or as an add on to current writing assignments.

I know you’re the kind of teacher that makes their classroom a fun, engaging learning environment. I have a series of lessons done as comics that address various ELA topics like grammar, poetry, editing, and Shakespeare, all of which will make your students glad they came to class that day. All the fun is there for you, and your kids will love studying any of these topics because they’ll get a new comic every day! Please check out my resources and let the learning begin!

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