Teaching short stories

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ifightaliens, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. ifightaliens

    ifightaliens Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2009

    Back to the old grind in a week and a half. :p

    Last year, I predominantly taught short stories based on the curriculum (of course, there were also novels, if we could get a hold of them, and poetry). It usually went about one short story a week.

    Do you guys have any ideas for pacing or supplementary activities? There would be times when the story was so short it would be hard to fill a week's worth of material, and others where the story was so long it would seem to be hard to cover within a week's time. In our district last year, it was mandated that everybody be on the same thing at the same time, with district generated quizzes at the end of each week (I'll hold my tongue on how I feel about that).
     
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  3. Mr.MiddleSchool

    Mr.MiddleSchool Comrade

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    Aug 23, 2009

    Would you mind sharing with me which short stories you taught? That was something I struggled with last year--finding short stories students would enjoy reading.

    Thanks in advanc.
     
  4. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Aug 23, 2009

    I'm struggling with pacing now myself. The first unit in English 2 is "Short Stories" but of course the recommended stories in the state-approved curriculum are not the ones in our textbook. In fact, they are mostly ones that are in the English 1 or 3 textbook. Very frustrating to constantly have to find stories to read!
     
  5. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Aug 23, 2009

    Do you work in Philly?

    Here's what my day looks like:
    10 minutes preclass activity - grammar, vocab (the exercises in the teacher's manual for each story), Greek/Latin roots.
    10-15 minutes doing the Quickwrite for the story of the day.
    5ish minutes discussing the Quickwrite.
    5ish minutes previewing the story, reading background and talking about what you're supposed to get out of it (literary elements or whatever) and guided notetaking setup.
    Rest of the period reading some of the story and stopping for discussion.
    HW: finish story, sometimes, or answer one of the questions at the end. If they need it you can also finish it the next day. If you've got more advanced kids they can sometimes read more on their own but if you're in Philly I'm wagering it's a comprehensive school? They usually need more support.

    Then, with all the lovely time you have for the rest of the week, you can be creative. Pick and choose activities from the teacher's guide and supplemental materials. Do a group project that relates to the thing you're studying (one thing my kids like, if you don't have management problems, is to get a roll of butcher paper, about $3.99 at Staples. Cut pieces about 3' long, or half a kid's worth. Put them in groups of 3-4 and have them trace the top half of one of the group members. Then in the head, put the character's thoughts, in the hands his actions, in the chest his feelings. Good for character analysis and other stuff). Work on writing, using a book prompt or writing workshop techniques (good time to do constructed responses!) Look up the story on the internet - 95% of the time someone else has planned a unit that includes it and will have good activity ideas. Pick a short passage from the story and dissect it.

    If you are in fact in Philly PM me your email address and I can send you some of my 9th grade plans, if that would help.
     
  6. ifightaliens

    ifightaliens Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2009

    A few off the top of my head that the kids liked were The Most Dangerous Game, The Necklace, The Cask of Amontillado (though the kids liked Poe in general), The Gift of The Magi, A Sound of Thunder... pretty much anything with a twist ending that wasn't hard to read. I'll dig out my old teacher's text and see what else I can get you.
     
  7. kstar03

    kstar03 Companion

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    Aug 25, 2009


    Love this idea and want to steal it for my seventh graders. What would be a good keywork to look up the project online?
     
  8. bmault

    bmault Rookie

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    Aug 25, 2009

    I wonder if we (if you are in philly) are going to get those weekly quizzes again.
     
  9. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Aug 26, 2009

    kstar03, I don't know that it exists online; I made it up to get my kids out of their desks and working with each other, though it's highly possible I'm not the first person to think of it :) Plus you get these cool people to hang around your room for a while. Some of the kids may want to decorate them, too, which is great but you have to make sure they do the writing first! I've had it where they're making very elaborate hair and earrings and have nothing written down. When they're finished, I have them present their character. I usually do this at the end of the first two chapters, when they have several stories to pick from.

    You can apply it to pretty much any story, and I've always thought that if letting them trace each other isn't an option you could make it into a handout by drawing a stick figure on a regular piece of paper and having them do it that way.
     

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