Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Short Story and Computer Technology

I have always enjoyed teaching the short story. It is short. It can sometimes be read in a class period and discussed to the point meaningful homework can be assigned for good class discussions can be had the next day. The short story provides a good framework to delivery the aspects of fiction needed to analyze a novel. The novel is a tough piece of literature to teach in a class because it requires so many days, perhaps weeks. The elements of fiction are easily taught with the short story, thus providing instruction to the reading of the novel, which is more of an out of class experience than an in class experience. Novels are assigned as book reports, summer reading, and vacation reading. With the short story those literary elements key tom fiction reading can be done in a few classes.

When I start my short story work in class I introduce the class to the Fact Sheet: (click on it to bigger image).

The fact sheet provides guides to the important information of the piece of fiction being read, a short story or a novel. Within the fact sheet I have provided links to the page of literary terms that will helpful in better understanding the parts of the short story. Immediately, we see how the computer technology has aided me in short story instruction by having links to and access to a fact sheet and websites to help with the literary tools. Access to these tools promotes further scholarship.

The next part is to select short stories. Again, the Internet is an excellent resource for me and my scholars. I have access to the classic short stories as well as those modern short stories that may become classics and to short stories being introduced to the world right now. I haver access to traditional sort stories as well as more unconventional hypertext short stories. I maintain a collection of short stories on my website as well as linking to many more on the Internet. I will start with a short story we read as a class, to show how the fact sheet works and to develop methods of study the scholars will use when they read their own selected short story. Once the scholars begin selecting their own short story to read, I find an interesting occurrence happens. Scholars will sometimes complain the short story is boring. "Sorry," I say and suggest they select another. They do. On other occasions they may not like the short story they began and will select another. Sometimes they read a short story and are not satisfied with it enough to write about it, so they read another one. The bottom line here is when they have choice they oftentimes read more than when I do the selecting.

The writing exercises can be the traditional print paper or the electronic webpages with hypertext links to the short story and any secondary research resources they want to use or even graphics that will enhance the report. They can do a Blog entry or even a wiki entry and invite classmates to participate in discussing the short story. The key is to provide an environment in which the scholars produce something and feel ownership of that product.

A final project can be to have the scholars write their own short story that they publish in print or on the web. They can even engage in a wiki kind of short story writing project that involves their classmates or invited guests from outside school.

Short stories are a valuable literature for teachers to introduce elements of fiction and to introduce the scholars to our great novelists through their short stories. I still agree with what I wrote a number of years ago about using the short story in the classroom.

No comments: