How to Create A Killer Short Story Unit for Your Middle Schoolers: Part 4 - EB Academics

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How to Create A Killer Short Story Unit for Your Middle Schoolers: Part 4

November 30, 2018 3 min read

We’ve made it! We’re at the end of our 4-part series where we’re walking you through 4 easy steps to creating an awesome short story unit for your middle school students! If you missed the previous posts you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

As mentioned in the previous three posts, when creating our short story units for middle school, we always aim to include four main elements:

  • A hook
  • A high-interest story (see our list of favorite story stories in this post)
  • Standards-aligned activities
  • An assessment
Our final post to creating an awesome short story unit is all about …

We always like to give our middle schoolers various ways to demonstrate their knowledge and grasp of the content and objectives for our units. Short story units are no exception.

Instead of just giving students a standard “assessment,” we like to give them THREE.

Now, we know this sounds like a lot, but hear us out.

You will always have students who struggle with test taking. You will also always have students who are incredibly creative. And then you will have those students who love to write, but can’t draw to save their life (that’s me!).

So why wouldn’t we want to provide each type of learner with a different way to show what they have learned? Which is precisely why we provide students with three summative assessments at the end of any unit.

Those three assessments are:

1. Your Basic Test
Yep! You read that right. We do give students one of those “basic tests,” and we actually think they’re quite important. But they’re not the end all be all. On a test, you’ll find reading comprehension questions, short answer analytical questions, matching characters to quotes, true or false, etc.

2. A Project-Based Assessment
We always find it important to give students who are more project-based learners a way to express what they’ve learned. Which is why we this resource this Project Bingo Board (which also allows for excellent differentiation).

Just check out some of the incredible work our students have produced in the past!

Easily create a short story unit for your middle school english classroom
Easily create a short story unit for your middle school english classroom

3. An In-Class Essay.
Always the final formative assessment, the in-class essay in a staple in our curriculum. Because we follow the framework we have developed over the years (which we call Evidence-Based Writing, and you can read more about here), we want to be continuously assessing our students on their ability to write a Response to Literature.

Which is precisely why they write an in-class essay at least 7 times a year.

The in-class essay prompt that we provide students will always be focused on them analyzing the text, forming a claim, citing evidence, and forming justification. Hitting those standards, right? But also preparing them for much more in life than just writing an essay. Forming claims and providing evidence to support those claims is an incredible skill for so many areas in life!

Want to provide differentiation for this type of an assessment? You can use this same Response to Literature graphic organizer that we developed and have fine tuned over the years.
Would you like to use the short story unit we do? You can grab it here.
Do you have another idea for creating a short story unit? Please let us know in the comments below or by sending us an email.
Your ELA Friends,
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Easily create a short story unit for your middle school english classroom

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Continue listening to the episode here —>
    • Let me know in the comments which camp you’re in?⁣
Holiday music right after Halloween!! 🎄 ⁣
Or ... You’re crazy, it’s WAY too early to start listening to holiday music! 😱⁣
Well, I used to be the latter, but the other day “White Christmas” came on, and I just decided to FULLY embrace the holidays early this year 😂 Oh well!⁣
With that being said, this Gingerbread House for Sale Descriptive Writing Activity is an AMAZING resource for your middle schoolers to dive into right before the break!⁣
Things are INSANE this time of year and kids need something that is engaging and fun, yet highly rigorous and academic 🎄 That’s exactly what this resource is! ✅ ⁣
Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to DM you the link! Or you can visit the link in our profile as well 😘⁣
And if you already have and have used this resource in the past, I would LOVE to know that as well!!⁣
Hope you all are having a restful Sunday ♥️
    • One of the biggest mistakes we can make as writing teachers is requiring our students to start their essays with a HOOK. 
With this strategy, students gets STUCK on that first sentence before they can even get a chance to get to the heart of their paper! They end up wasting tons of precious writing time trying to come up with an interesting hook that oftentimes is a stretch. 
Instead, we want to give our students a CLEAR roadmap to begin their essays. One that will give them confidence in their abilities from the get go. One that allows them to quickly move into the meat of their critical analysis, so they can truly show us what they've learned. 
If you've ever taught hook and are ready to try a new, counterintuitive approach that WORKS and gives your students RESULTS, this episode is a MUST listen. 
Head over here to give it a listen -->
    • Double tap if you agree ♥️♥️⁣
And if you need to call in sick to take a mental health day for yourself. DO IT. Take a day off and go get a pedicure, or go shopping, or go workout!⁣
Do whatever you need to do to get to the place of your best self. ⁣
I used to work with a teacher who took a mental health day every month. It was when I first started teaching, and I didn’t get it. Why was she doing that?⁣
Well, fast forward to a decade in the classroom later, and now I truly see the value and importance of doing that! ⁣
I know you hear it all the time, but let it sink in ...⁣
You need to do what’s best for YOU and take care of yourself first. If we aren’t operating from our best selves, then we’re not able to serve anyone the way that we’re capable of. ⁣
On another note, hope you all enjoyed that extra hour of sleep last night! And if you have young children, I can commiserate. My little guy woke up at 6:30 😂😭🤦🏼‍♀️📸 @dumbosteiner
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This is worth a read. So keep scrolling down!⁣
I’ll briefly share some of my thoughts on this (although I would like to do a whole podcast episode about it) ...⁣
1. You need to clearly communicate your expectations. Always. (Just as this picture shows.)⁣
2. Have a system in place that you use CONSISTENTLY. Consistency is key with anything, but especially when it comes to your rules, policies, and procedures. ⁣
3. Never, ever yell at your students. Ever. Period. ⁣
4. Come from a place of understanding and compassion. ⁣
5. Take a moment to have a conversation with individual students after class. Ask them what’s going on and what you can do to help them. Don’t yell at them or make them feel bad. Come from a place of kindness and compassion. If you haven’t tried this approach before, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the conversation. ⁣
6. Show your students the same amount of respect you expect from them. ⁣
7. You are the ultimate role model for behavior in your classroom. If you’re yelling or emotionally out of control when handling a situation, think about what that might be saying to your students ...⁣
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But what I can tell you is that these practices have been embedded into everything I’ve always done as a teacher, and I very rarely had behavior issues in any of my classrooms (classrooms in a wide range of ages, places, etc). ⁣
What else would you add? A practice that you’ve used year after year that has created a positive and kind classroom culture. Please feel free to share in the comments. I would love to read them ♥️

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