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How to Create an Awesome Short Story Unit for Your Middle School Students Part 3

November 23, 2018 2 min read

How to Create an Awesome Short Story Unit for Your Middle School Students Part 3

November 23, 2018 2 min read

We’ve into part 3 now of how to create a short story unit for your middle school students – and an awesome unit at that! If you missed Parts 1 and 2 where we talked all about the hook and a high-interest story, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Part 3 to Creating an Awesome Short Story Unit is all about …

When designing our short story units, we focus on a few key standards. In this particular unit (“The Lottery”), we highlight how specific lines of dialogue or incidents in the story move the action and reveal character traits (CCSS RL.8.1 and RL.9-10.1) and writing arguments to support claims with strong evidence and justification (CCSS W.8.1 and W.9-10.1).

Of course, you naturally address other standards (speaking and listening standards are plentiful!), but centering on a few standards helps give our students a clear vision of what we expect them to focus on as they annotate the text and participate in all the activities we’ve set up. With “The Lottery,” our standards-aligned activities include:

1. A Setting Activity

Students work with the social environment and irony of the text, using evidence from the short story to support their claims.

2. Traditions and Behavior Activity

Students write from the perspectives of two characters from the story to answer interview-like questions.

3. Suspense and Foreshadowing Activity

Because “The Lottery” is filled with contrasts, students will prove that the author sets the reader up for false expectations.

4. Focusing on Theme Activity

Students work closely with the text to identify various themes and support their claims with justification.

All of these activities are the exact ones we’ve included in our short story unit for “The Lottery.” Time and time again, these are incredibly engaging and effective activities for our students!

So our suggestion for creating standards-aligned activities? Pick maybe 1 or 2 KEY standards that you want to focus on for a specific story, and start there. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to cover too many standards (you’ll see that a lot of standards are inherently covered anyhow!).

You can even pick and choose from our four suggestions listed here, as a lot of them can be applied to other texts beyond “The Lottery” as well!Looking for more ideas for a short story unit in your middle school classroom? Check out this short stories resource we use every year with our middle schoolers!

Ready to dive into Part 4 for how to create an awesome short story unit. You can do so here

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Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

Caitlin + Jessica

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