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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jazzed about Short Stories

My class is going into a short story unit. I love using short stories in my class. They are short. They are fiction. They are rich in fodder to play with figurative language, they are perfect for deconstruction, they are easy reads, they are good models of writing skills, they are good subjects for expository writing assignments, they are a perfect microcosm of life. They aren't poetry.

Short stories are a genre familiar to all my scholars whether they are good readers or not. They all know stories. They hear stories, they have read stories, they all tell stories. Stories are part of their heritage and culture. Stories are great tools for text to self, because in a short compact piece of literature, the author connects to the reader in one way or another. We learn about ourselves in a quick read. We see character development done quickly. Plot unfolds instantly. All the pieces of a short story connect to the reader because they are short. The author needs to be more concise than does the novelist. The prose style is more familiar than is verse or even drama. Short stories are entertaining while non-fiction, a similar prose style, is not necessarily entertaining or accessible. Sometimes my scholars might comment that the short story isn't that short. Other than that, I don't hear too many complaints and soon they are all involved.

Their writing assignments are fuller and more complete than other expository assignments about non-fiction, verse, or drama. Deconstructing short stories via our Fact Sheet helps them find the pieces and place them in the appropriate information cell. Short stories provide me and the scholars a platform to explore learning. I can watch and see how each of my scholars learn and they can observe their own learning styles as the fact sheet, note taking, and assessment tools, the quiz and the essay, supply the data for exploring learning. In a two hour period all of this can be done. In regular school I teach one hour classes. In after school and summer school, I teach two hour classes. I prefer the two hour class because the entire lesson can be completed without interruption.

After each scholar presents an expository essay on a short story or two, the scholars are invited to write their own short story, using the fact sheet to construct the characters, plots, and other elements of the short story. One of the major benefits of this lesson is that my scholars are more apt to be producers. Producing a product engages the scholar, excites the senses of the scholar, establishes a good context for class.

There is nothing as powerful as a good story.

No comments: