Looking for a way to incorporate short stories while also sticking to the literature standards? It's easy to focus on comprehension with short stories, but it's harder to teach students how to analytically think about short stories as they relate to development of characters, setting, theme, plot, and more.
These short story graphic organizers are intended for use with any short story in a middle or high school classroom. You can use them to model analytically thinking during mini lessons and with reader's workshop. They make for excellent differentiation tools. Allow students to choose which activity they'd like to work on depending on their needs, or use them as literacy center activities.
These analytical graphic organizers can be used during or after reading, and they are helpful tools for guiding discussions about short stories.
The 7 graphic organizer activities include:
1. Response to Reading Journal
With this activity, students will select passages from the text that mean something to them. Then, they will analyze the importance of those passages. Suggestions for how students can use the textual evidence to make meaning are included. You will also find example sentence stems to guide students' responses.
2. Analyzing Theme with Textual Evidence
For this activity, students will use a graphic organizer bar chart to track the textual evidence in a story. Students will then write an analytical paragraph explaining how the theme is developed from beginning to end of the story. A scaffolded version is included for struggling writers.
3. Character Motivation and Development
This organizer contains questions that prompt students to think about a character's development and role in a story. They will answer questions about how the character changes as well as what the character might represent. Students will think about the character's motive, make inferences about the character, and determine how the character helps to establish the theme.
4. Setting Impacts the Story
Students can complete one or both setting graphic organizers. The first asks students to identify three important elements of setting and sketch them. Then, they will consider how setting impacts the mood, tone, plot, and theme of the short story. The second graphic organizer asks students to think more critically about the levels of setting in a story. Students will make observations and inferences to conclude how the microsystem, mesosystem, and macrosystem impact the characters and plot.
5. Writing Objective Summaries
The first graphic organizer is a plot diagram that students will use to analyze the most important parts of the short story's plot. The second organizer is a scaffolded objective summary page. Students will turn their plot diagrams into a brief plot summary. Reminders for objective summaries are included. An example for each part of the summary is also included.
6. Thinking Critically Using Symbolism
Students will think about tone and mood from a symbolic angle, using colors. Paint swatches are an added bonus for this activity, but if you don't have them, just make sure students have access to a variety of colored pencils, crayons, or markers. An online color wheel is also helpful so that students can select from a variety of shades. Students will be selecting colors that symbolize the mood and tone. They will observe how the mood and tone change throughout the story.
7. Analyzing Perspective
With this activity, students will consider how point of view plays a role in the reader's perspective and experience with a text. The activity is simple but focuses on critical thinking. Students will move from identifying the point of view of the story to explaining its limitations and advantages. They will then think critically about the role of point of view as well as respond to whether or not the narrator's thoughts and opinions are a reflection of the author's beliefs.
These scaffolded activities are directly aligned with the Common Core Reading Literature standards and are intended for use in middle and high school. Teachers can use them as whole-class activities, small group discussion pieces, or choice options in differentiated situations. A teacher's guide for suggested use is included.
If you are looking for more resources for teaching short stories, you might be interested in this comprehensive reading guide for any short story
Here are more research-based literature and reading tools
for the middle and high school classroom.
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