STIR, THRILL, and DELIGHT your students as you present the world of short fiction using this suite of short story-inspired learning events. Begin by co-constructing a knowledge base... move into exploring and investigating the literary landscape... delve into the human experience with a concept task... pause for student-led discussions tweaked for critical thinking... and finish with a flourished focus on expository and creative writing.
INVESTIGATING THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE WITH CONCEPT TASKS
Each week of this unit is dedicated to 1 literary topic – elements of fiction, plot structure, setting & mood, characterization – and at the heart of each topic is what I call a ‘CONCEPT TASK’. A concept task is a high-interest, project-like task that explores an aspect of the human experience as reflected by each literary element. For example, the literary topic for week 2 is plot structure... and that week’s concept task encourages students to think about how plot structures mirror universal life experiences. The 4 concept tasks ask these questions and offer the following learning events:
WEEK 1: Elements of Fiction: How do written genres reflect life? Students take on the role of journalist and use the week’s story to construct a news feature with headline, image, and article.
WEEK 2: Plot Structure: How do plot structures mirror universal life experiences? Students consider war-time life experiences and how to re-create those experiences to produce an alternate ending to the week’s war story.
WEEK 3: Setting & Mood: Other than setting, what contributes to mood? Students create mood by constructing positive or negative back-stories in response to an image prompt.
WEEK 4: Characterization: As well as character traits, what else might explain behaviour? Students generate a list of interview questions and answers to role-play a character interview as part of a social science experiment.
This unit has everything you need: the short stories; 4 weeks of superb lesson plans; daily calendars; all assessments with keys and holistic or analytic rubrics, as appropriate; a marking agenda; a final test; and more.
The stories are a mix of old favourites jazzed up with some lesser-used gems to keep everyone inspired. Week-by-week, they are:
Week 1: ELEMENTS OF FICTION: Saki’s “The Storyteller” and Bierce’s “John Mortonson’s Funeral”
Week 2: PLOT STRUCTURE: O’Flaherty’s “The Sniper”, Stockton’s “The Lady, or the Tiger?”, and Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
Week 3: SETTING & MOOD: Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” and Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”
Week 4: CHARACTERIZATION: Chekhov’s “Indigestion” and Twain’s “The £1,000,000 Bank-Note”
Each week includes:
1 week-at-a-view daily calendar with an integrated marking agenda and links out to media;
A pdf or a link to 2 or 3 short stories per week;
1 or 2 “My Life in Lit” glossary entries, with appropriate keys (1-3 pages per week + keys);
1, 2, or 3 literary landscape exercises with appropriate keys (1-6 pages per week + keys);
1 Concept Task with holistic rubric (2-3 pages per week);
1 Discussion Guide (1 page per week);
1 “Explain Away” expository writing toolkit with analytic rubric (4-5 pages per week). Download my FREE resource
Mood in Music: "Explain Away" Expository Writing Toolkit
to get an idea of the quality of my work.
IN ALL: Week 1: 21 pages; Week 2: 31 pages; Week 3: 38 pages; Week 4: 38 pages
THE FIRST WEEK also includes: a Unit Outline for students, “My Life in Lit” glossary entries cover sheet with holistic rubric, a Reading Log cover sheet with holistic rubric, an introductory Reflection, and a Diagnostic Writing task.
ALSO included: a Unit Outline, 3 quizzes with keys, and a final test (with: 4 true/false, 4 multiple choice, 11 matching, 4 fill-in-the-blanks, 2 odd-one-out; a punctuation task; and a paragraph-length expository writing task with visual prompt).
"MY LIFE IN LIT" student glossary entries explain literary terms, then prompt students to illustrate those terms with examples from their daily lives. For example, the “It’s my Life” plot structure learning event prompts students to think about and plot an event from their own life.
LITERARY LANDSCAPE learning events are exercises to identify, explore, and investigate the week’s literary terms and concepts. Students might diagram plot elements in “The Sniper”, examine and reconstruct sensory descriptions in Bradbury, or make inferences about behaviour based on character traits.
CONCEPT TASKS are project-like learning events that ask students to consider big literary questions such as: How do written genres reflect life? Students might write a news article or generate a list of interview questions and answers to role-play a character interview as part of a social science experiment.
GUIDED DISCUSSIONS are student-led discussions designed to develop higher-order thinking. Each week, students are prompted to use 3 or 4 higher-order skills; students might recommend stories, appraise literary techniques, or contrast characters.
"EXPLAIN AWAY: expository writing toolkits ask students to explain a quote, a musical choice, or a character’s behaviour. Preparations, content and structure planners, model sentences, as well as revision and editing checklists and an analytic rubric are included. Download my FREE resource Mood in Music: “Explain Away” Expository Writing Toolkit to get an idea of the quality of my work.
What’s the INTEGRATED MARKING AGENDA? A simple and incredibly effective way to keep control of marking... or a least to know how far behind you really are. The bottom row in the calendar is the agenda, and it’s simply this: a reminder of what needs to get marked, when, and how (with rubric, key, etc).
Happy Teaching and Happy Reclaiming Your Zeal, Zest, and Zing!!!