Mrs. Spangler in the Middle Leaps Into Literature!

Looking for new ways to engage your students in literature, especially with classics that might seem old and outdated? In this secondary English Language Arts blog hop, the Literary League showcases resources that can be used with any literary text, time after time, year after year.Here at the Literary League, we’re a group of English teachers who truly love literature (we bet you already figured that part out). Given free time, we can all agree that there’s nothing better than leaping into a good book. But, even as avid readers, we have to admit that those spare minutes tend to be few and far between, especially during the school year, and there are times that we just have to …
  • leap into a book recommended by a friend, a colleague, or especially a student, who is anxiously awaiting our review
  • leap into a new novel we’re teaching, whether or not we’ve had time to fully prepare a complete unit
  • leap into a classic, maybe not one of our favorites, but something we know students need to sit with in order to grow as a reader

For those instances, the Literary League is teaming up to share some of our favorite resources to help you Leap into Literature. These are resources that are not tied to a particular book, but ones that can be used over and over again, both with your favorite novels, as well as with new texts or classic pieces you’re trying to breathe new life into.

A favorite resource I use to engage my students in literature is Figurative Language Pixanotes!  Pixanotes are a modified form of Cornell notes with fill-in-the-blanks for content and pictures to represent key ideas!   Pixanotes are based on research  that has shown that visuals improve comprehension and increase retention of content.

First, the notes help me introduce the critical content.  In this case, the critical content is definitions and examples for simile, metaphor, alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, idiom, hyperbole and irony.

Using my document camera, I read the information with the blanks and ask students what they think belongs in the blank. Sometimes, they already have some ideas about the content! Finally, I write in the correct information into the blanks and students record this new knowledge along with me.

If you have students with learning challenges or language challenges, there are also notes pages with no blanks that students can highlight which is perfect for differentiation.

Next, students match up the included pictures to the correct definitions in the notes.  They cut out the flaps and place them next to the correct definitions.  Then I check to see if they have placed the pictures in the correct places.  If all is well, then I allow the student to glue them down with glue being placed just along the top rectangle so it can be used as an interactive notebook flap.  This way, I have the option to direct students to write a question under the flap that can be answered with the information that is recorded there for a more full Cornell notes type experience,  After all the pictures have been glued, students play the included dominoes game to deepen their understanding. (There are additional picture options included for students with various challenges.)

Now that students have a firm foundation of the critical content, I can use the terms and the notes with ANY text!  This is what I did:

I gave my students a copy of the lyrics from "Let It Go" and asked them to highlight the similes in pink.

After the highlighting was complete, I asked the students to "partner up" and discuss what they highlighted to determine if what they had highlighted were actually similes.

The partners then decided which lyric from the song to write down in the notes as another example of simile.

Finally, I asked each partner group to share the example they wrote in their notes and why their example was a correct example.  This last part is important so that I can truly ascertain if the students fully understand the application of the definitions.

I can repeat this pattern many times with the same text (there are examples of metaphor and hyperbole in this song and I will ask my students to use different color highlighters to mark the text for these other terms) or with ANY other text!

This and ALL of my Pixanotes resources are on sale today and tomorrow for the TpT #SuperLeap Sale!

Read about other engaging literature resources from the other Literary Leaguers linked up below and also enter in the rafflecopter below for a chance to win them all.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Oh my goodness! This is AMAZING! I love how student friendly this resource is. My SPED students struggle big time with reading comprehension and how figurative language influences/impacts the text. I love how this breaks everything down and makes it manageable for students! Thank you so much! :)

  2. I teach a lot of EL students, and using visuals is a tried and true strategy that really works with them. Thank you so much for creating something that helps all students meet their content goals.

  3. I love that you include versions for differentiation. This makes the activity easy-to-implement in any classroom. Perfect, thanks!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope to hear from you and will reply via e-mail. :)