It's All an Allusion! Not Illusion!

22 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT identify and analyze the literary device of allusion.

Big Idea

Students will analyze song lyrics, prose, and poetry for allusion and then create their own examples.

Advanced Organizer

7 minutes

Allusion is one of those literary devices that is so dependent on background knowledge and exposure.  When mastered, it can truly enhance your writing or even reading experience.  Although many students will not have that background knowledge for all references, they will still know it is a tool that is used by writers.  

Also, with the shift in the CCSS, more students will be exposed to the Greek Myths in fourth grade, therefore making this a concept that is a little easier to master.  

To help motivate the students to engage in this lesson, I will use a song lyric to introduce the concept of Allusion.  

I will provide the students with the Student Template for notes to cut out and glue into their interactive spiral notebooks.  I remind the students to NOT glue the top of the definition box down, as we will use it as a pocket for a review game at another time. 

I will allow the students about 7 minutes to cut, glue, and color.  I find it to be manageable in 7 minutes to have the students do this as long as I set the timer and keep them moving!

The students enjoy using Allusion Song Lyrics and Definition as a way to introduce the concept because I usually play the song as they are cutting the notes template out and gluing. 


25 minutes

To introduce the concept, I will display the song lyrics onto the board and first review the definition.  Allusion is  much harder for the students to master, not because of the skill required, but because of the background knowledge needed and literary experience required to understand that an reference is even being made. 

I will ask the students what I mean if I where to say "My math teacher was so angry, he began to turn green and his muscles started to swell!"  I want them to understand that I am comparing my math teacher to someone famous.  This will help them understand what an allusion is and help them feel comfortable with the skill before we even start with notes.  I find that students can be intimidated just with a concept because they have never heard of it. 

Next, I will refer to the song and MODEL how I read through the song, identify the reference (again pointing out background knowledge and experience, but also using inquiry to break down text.  For example, I will tell the students that as a reader, if I come across something I think the author WANTS me to understand, I look it up) 

Once I have identified the reference and understand the reference, I am able to analyze and explain it.  I will write out the explanation in the margins and have the students copy me so they have a model to refer to later. 

Next, I will display the Allusions Power Point and begin to go through the slides.  I will pass out Guided Notesfor the students to complete and use as a reference later.  As I go through the slides, I will have the students take the notes. Guided Notes

Once they are done, I will have them tape their notes into their spirals, onto the next blank page. 

Guided Practice

10 minutes

Next, I will pass out the  Allusion Practice guided practice and have the students work in their mixed ability groups to explain as many allusions as possible.  It is unlikely that the students will be able to explain every allusion, due to lack of exposure, but I'll have them work to identify and explain as many as possible. 

I'll allow the students 20 minutes to work on the task.  While they are working, I will circulate with groups, discussing some of the allusions, providing background knowledge to many as possible, and assessing their ability to analyze them. Discussion

Once they are done, I will display the handout onto the board and take a few minutes to go through some of them.  I want to point out the author's purpose for using them. 

Independent Practice

15 minutes

To get the students working with allusions, I am going to have the students work to write their own examples Student Created Allusions.  This will allow them to demonstrate their understanding of the concept and use people, places, or events that they are familiar with. 

First, we will write a couple together.  I want the students to understand the process of writing allusions.  I will start with providing them with some things to I want to make an allusion to: Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Romeo, Hammurabi, etc... Next, I will have the students help me build the examples. 

This will give them the practice of writing them as well as some ideas.  I will allow them time to work in class and collect they sentences for an assessment. 


5 minutes

To help my students process their learning and to gain an assessment for their understanding, I will have them complete a Closure Slip

Knowing that not every student is going to have the background knowledge to really understand every example of allusion they come across, I try to at least have the students gain an understanding of what the device is and why it is used.  If knowing that they may run across these references in text, they may be motivated to research the reference to find out why it is being used. *Wishful thinking!