“Obits” is a short story by Stephen King first published in his 2015 story collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.
The story is narrated by Michael Anderson, who, according to him, is 'less-than-fearless'. He briefly describes how he went to the University of Rhode Island, where he got a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, and how Professor Vern Higgins, the head of journalism there, instructed them to write their stories.
Michael says he had a string of odd jobs at first, until he took an impulsive decision and wrote a nasty, unsympathetic joke obituary for Jack Briggs, an actor who had died of a drug overdose, and sent it to Neon Circus (his favourite webzine). The editor of Neon Circus, Jeroma Whitfield, was impressed with his article and offered him a column writing obituaries in Neon Circus. Seeing this as an opportunity to do something he really wanted to do, Michael accepted.
Michael then describes Neon Circus, and Katie Curran, his colleague, who he also has a crush on. One day, angry with Jeroma for refusing him a raise, he wrote an obituary for her as a joke to vent out his anger. However, he later got a call from Katie, who informed him that Jeroma actually died. Michael then says he thought it just a coincidence, and that Jeroma couldn't really have died just because he wrote an obituary for her. However, later on in the story, it becomes clear that he actually has a power of killing living people by writing their obituaries. He describes how his power was like an addiction, and how the urge to use it again and again grew stronger every time he wrote an obituary. He also found out later that his power sort of 'spread' further and further every time he used it. This meant that, even if he wrote an obituary for a particular person, other people with similar names also died.
He goes on to say that he left his job at Neon Circus, and now lives in Wyoming, where he works as a house painter and does various other jobs. He stopped using laptops and computers, and only uses an iPad now, on which he checks out Neon Circus from time to time. He ends the story by saying how he has tried to stick to the way Mr. Higgins had told them to follow while writing a story, and how, like Mr. Higgins always said, 'it's the end only for now'. (Wikipedia)
This is teaching materials for a short story that would be considered untraditional. The assessments included vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking questions, and recall or comprehension questions on one sheet. These questions come in the form of a mixture of matching, short answer, and multiple-choice. By completing this sheet the student will demonstrate an understanding of the material on multiple levels.
The other assessment is a creative art sheet. The creative art sheet asks the student to use the details from the story and their own knowledge, experiences, and imagination to synthesize a totally new work, this is a picture that is a visual representation that recreates of a scene, character or maybe the student's use or view of an aspect of the story. Along with this picture the student will explain their work with a short explanation.
The materials provided
1 Short story worksheet
2 Creative Art Sheets
1 Answer Key
NOTE: I have decided to include the Word Documents that the PDFs are created from so that if you would like to customize the unit for your classroom you can. However, I have used formatting and custom fonts that are not standard with many versions of Microsoft office. This may mean that opening them with a different version of office or without the same fonts installed will throw the formatting off. If so it may take some work to adapt them in your class. I am including them as an extra and would ask that I am not rated on the usability of the Word Docs. Since they are not the finished product, but an extra.