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Teaching the Short Story Teacher’s Packet A KET professional development workshop for educators approved for Professional Development Training by the Kentucky Department of Education. © Kentucky Educational Television, 2000About the Seminar Host and Presenter Hosting the seminar is Starr Lewis, who was recently named associate commissioner for the Office of Academic and Professional Development at the Kentucky Department of Education. Before becoming associate commissioner, Starr served as branch manager for the humanities and as director of the Kentucky Writing Program. She has also served as a writing portfolio consultant for the Department of Education and as a regional writing resource teacher. Starr’s background includes 17 years of experience teaching high school English and psychology in Bullitt County, Kentucky. She has a degree in secondary education from the University of Kentucky and a master’s in education from the University of Louisville. Dewey Hensley teaches English at South Oldham High School in Crestwood, Kentucky and has recently been named a Highly Skilled Educator by the Kentucky Department of Education. Before coming to South Oldham, Dewey taught English and served as head basketball coach at Eminence High School. He also taught at Fairdale High School in Louisville. His other professional activities have included serving as associate director of the Louisville Writing Project, conducting training sessions for the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, and serving as a table leader for portfolio analysis and as on-demand writing test writer for the Kentucky Department of Education. Dewey has a B.A. in English and philosophy from Berea College and a master’s in English from the University of Louisville. Professional Development Credit Stage of Participant Development: Practice/Application The Kentucky Department of Education has approved all KET Star Channels Seminars for professional development credit if schools or districts choose to include them in their professional development plans. Districts or schools may choose to include preparation and/or follow-up time as part of professional development. For example, if a teacher participates in one 90-minute program and spends an additional 30 minutes in related activities, he or she could be awarded a total of two hours professional development credit. Individual teachers who wish to use these videotapes for professional development credit should check with their school professional development chair or with their district professional development coordinator. Professional development can also be used to satisfy requirements for the fifth year program. Contact your local university or the Division of Teacher Education and Certification at 502-564-4606 for more information. Teaching the Short Story 4Seminar Agenda Welcome and introduction Starr Lewis, Host Layered approach to teaching the short story Dewey Hensley, Presenter Using observations to reveal character • Writer’s Notebook • Novels • Read-alouds • Children’s literature Synthesizing observations into a character • Draw • Write eight ways • Realize the character may change Focusing on conflict—“Dipping the Character in Paint” • Traditional conflicts • Sources of ideas for conflicts Three ways to develop plot or map • Plot line • Character wheel • Story hill Leads and point of view • True Story of the Three Little Pigs • Sample leads Focused revision • Asterisk method • Response groups • Questionnaire Using reading groups to provide feedback for climactic moment Realizing the difficulty of short story writing Concluding remarks Starr Lewis Materials Needed for Participation in This Seminar • Pencil or pen • Paper • Copy of this packet Teaching the Short Story 5A Short Story Should Include . . . • setting details woven into the text • development of at least one character through the character’s words, thoughts, and actions and through the words of other characters and/or the writer • a problem/conflict which is developed as the story (plot) progresses • a resolution of that problem/conflict (climax) • a conclusion (what happens after climax) • snapshots (things for the reader to visualize) • thoughtshots (characters’ thoughts) • dialogue (optional) Teaching the Short Story 6The Writer’s Notebook: Your Treasure Chest of Ideas Created by Dewey Hensley, South Oldham High School We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, we forget who we really are. Joan Didion (a writer) While your Writer’s Notebook may look like no more than blank pages right now, by the end of this class you will view it quite differently. It will be filled with ideas you have had, things you have felt, arguments won and lost. Memories. Answers. Questions. Lessons tried. Lessons learned. Facts. Fictions. Poems. Stories. Real world writings. Lists. Colors. Articles. Drawings. Notes. It will be a treasure chest of ideas that you can turn to when you need inspiration or just something to get the teacher off your back. The Writer’s Notebook is a safe place for you to try things we do in class and to keep up with ideas you have in class. You would be amazed at how many people keep a writer’s notebook. Certainly famous writers keep them; they don’t bother with diaries, they want a place where they can put ideas while they are fresh in their minds. Song writers keep ‘em as well. If you look at the lyrics of Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails to Pink Floyd, you often see them written down as if they were written in a notebook. But not only those people. Some business leaders and doctors and lawyers keep writer’s notebooks as a place to put down what is on their minds. The point is this. You can try things in your writer’s notebook that won’t be graded on anything but effort. You don’t have to worry about failing; the only way you can fail in the writer’s notebook is not to write in it at all. Take risks; write what is on your mind. Take risks; try the writer’s notebook exercises we do as mini lessons. From these things come your most important words and writing pieces. The writer’s notebook writing is known as expressive writing because it is the place where you express yourself in a school setting. Be wise; don’t put things in the notebook that are inappropriate for school. Class Use of Writer’s Notebook: Tips to Remember • Write the entire time allotted. Don’t waste time. • Don’t talk during writer’s notebook time; the teachers and others are trying to write and you disturb them. • “I left it at home” doesn’t work; if you left your writer’s notebook at home, don’t let us find out. • You will be asked to share your notebook ideas sometimes; sometimes you will just tell about what you wrote, other times you will read it aloud. • Usually you will write what you want. If what you have written is too personal, you can pass on the reading aloud. But the next time we read aloud in class you will be expected to share. • If you miss class, make up the entry on your own. • Make sure I can read your name on the front cover. • I want you to write what is on your mind, but remember this is still school. Don’t use curse words unless they are used in a way that is completely appropriate. Curse words don’t make you grown up; they only show you lack vocabulary to express yourself. Teaching the Short Story 7What Kinds of Things Go in a Writer’s Notebook? The big question is always “What can I write about in my writer’s notebook?” In many ways, the better question is what can’t go in your notebook. The only things I really don’t want to see are homework assignments from other classes and diary-type entries. There are many things you may put into your notebook as entries. Write about what moves you Write what makes you cry If you can, think of something funny Words you like Conversations you have had or heard somewhere Paint a character with words Write a letter you send Write a letter you would never send Play the “What if” game Make a list of things Count your blessings Start a novel Copy down poetic lines you have heard Write a movie review Revisit a favorite place Paste in an article that made you think Put in pressed flowers someone gave you Draw a cartoon and explain it Write a problem Write a poem Write a lead to an editorial Write down a dream you had and don’t ever want to forget Who are your real friends Try an exercise from English class Copy a poem Write down great lines from the book you are reading Tape in an object Describe your dream car; use it in a story What do you think people think of you? Write down questions you have about anything Write about other things in your writer’s notebook Eat a peach Taste the wind Hear voices of people you have never met but are sure you know Plan something Draw and explain an invention Be a smart aleck Find out who you really are Write about an issue important to you Write a song Write about angels . . . Teaching the Short Story 8Eight Ways to Reveal Character by Dewey Hensley Actions As Kevin moved down the street his feet made a steady echo sound against the pavement. He whistled despite the loud rumble of the traffic and the car horns. When someone yelled out the window of his or her car to watch where he was going, he just waved back like he was watching a best friend heading home. He passed by the garbage on the sidewalk and the old woman pushing the shopping cart filled with newspaper, and continued to smile as he headed toward Cindy’s house. Nothing could erase that smile from his face, not even the coldness of the streets he called home. Dialogue “I ain’t gonna leave you here, Ma’am . . . not with you needin’ help and all,” Jimmy said as he walked back to his truck to get the jack. “I’d help anybody who needed it; my momma taught me better’en to just leave people. The good Lord’ll make it up to me.” “I don’t know . . .,” Linda stuttered. She had barely rolled down her window to hear Jimmy when he had left his pick-up truck and offered help. “You know what they say about your kind . . .” Physical Description Other guys walking through the hallway were taller and even more handsome, but there was something about Billy Belaire. His arms swung loose at his side and his dark hair was long and pulled back behind his head, held by a rubber band. The dark jacket he wore was straight out of the local thrift shop, she could tell, but the way he wore it suggested a sense of pride, or at least a lack of caring what others thought about him. Idiosyncracies Junior tapped his fingertips against the table and looked at his watch constantly. His leg bounced up and down and he gulped the hot coffee as if it would hurry up his friend’s arrival. Objects/Possessions Michael touched the locket around his neck and rolled it between his fingers. His mother had given him that locket, with her picture inside, when he had left to live with his father. What would she think of him now? Reactions Tony’s words stung Laura. It wasn’t what she expected to hear. They had been dating for over a month now, how could he do this to her? How could he break her heart? All three of their dates had been fun; he had said so himself. As Tony watched the floodgate of her eyes begin to open he looked at his watch. Jeez, I hope I can make it to the gym on time. Teaching the Short Story 9Eight Ways to Reveal Character (continued) Thoughts He began to remember when he was a freshman in high school. The seniors really thought they were something back then, always trying to play their little pranks on the ninth graders. He knew at that moment he couldn’t be one of those kinds of people. He walked over to Jeff and Larry to tell them it was time to stop. Background Information Miles knew what it meant to be alone. When he was a child growing up his father had been in the military. They had traveled from Florida, to Georgia, to California, to Kentucky. He had rarely had a friend for very long. By the leap from California he had already decided having friends was a risk; the fewer the friends, the easier it was to leave. This philosophy had made him a real outsider at Glenview High School. In the six months he had been there he had not really made a single friend but as he stood there staring at Sheila, he realized that just might have to change. Teaching the Short Story 10“Dipping a Character in Paint” Four Notebook Entries to Get a Writer Started Created by Dewey Hensley, South Oldham High School The best fiction centers around realistic, multi-dimensional characters (traditionally called round or dynamic characters). Most writers rely upon their own knowledge and observations of people to create real characters for their fiction. These four types of notebook entries can provide writers the raw materials to build a character. Entry 1: Who is the most peculiar, colorful, or unique person you know? Describe this person in detail without using a name; try to capture all the little things the person does, says, believes that makes him or her different. Also tell how the person looks, what he or she wears, and even how others think about the person. Entry 2: What are your “idiosyncracies”? Idiosyncracies are little mannerisms (things we do unconsciously) that make us the way we are. Hensley puts his fingers together like a spider doing push-ups on a mirror; Mrs. Anderson hums softly while walking around the room and runs her fingers through her hair whenever Hensley says something stupid. What are some of your idiosyncracies? Be specific; take time to reflect upon yourself. DECODE: What is the “ID” in psychology? It is part of the unconscious mind that is “instinct”; it pushes us toward doing what we want for fun and pleasure. EGO is the reasonable, thinking part of a person that reacts to the outside world. SUPEREGO mediates between the ID and the EGO; it is part unconscious and part conscious. Entry 3: Take 10 minutes to observe someone outside this classroom. Then, in your writer’s notebook, write down every detail you can about this person. Draw a portrait of the person in words. How does this person look? What are his or her idiosyncracies? (If you don’t see any very clearly, predict what they might be.) What is the person’s history? If you don’t know anything about the person, then create a history. What does the person smell like? Can you come up with a simile or metaphor about this person? Entry 4: Extended entry . . . Take time to use the observation entries you have already done: the class discussions and books we have done in class; and your own observations to create a character. Remember, you can draw on your previous entries to create this character. Provide this “person” with a . . . • Name • Physical description • List of objects that tell about him or her • List of idiosyncracies he or she exhibits when certain things happen (when he or she is sad, scared, challenged, etc.) • History: where has this person been; what things have happened that really make this person who he or she is Teaching the Short Story 11“Dipping a Character in Paint”: A Layered Approach to Creating a Short Story Through Character and Conflict Created by Dewey Hensley, South Oldham High School While it is possible to help students create a short story through a linear approach (i.e., plot, character, details, then draft), this method does not leave learners with the independence they need and the “tools” they need to do this over and over again. That is why this “layered approach” is an effective way to teach students how to write fiction. Different Layers of Teaching Fiction 1. Reading workshop as models 2. Children’s literature to illustrate character traits 3. Children’s literature to illustrate important literary elements 4. Using the development of a realistic character as a way to start the story 5. Using the writer’s notebook to gather ideas 6. Reliance upon the active reading skills to practice 7. Using mini lessons to “safe practice” the craft 8. Using the writer’s notebook to practice the lesson 9. Applying mini lessons to the actual work of fiction 10. Revisits to lessons involving poetic language 11. Grammar lessons 12. Adolescent novels to practice active reading skills 13. Adolescent novels to support craft lessons 14. The writing process with conferencing and revision This is not a step-by-step approach; rather, it is a simultaneous application of all these things to get the students to understand fiction and the things needed to create good fiction. Teaching the Short Story 12Story Hill Similes Metaphors Personification Images/Sensory Details Climactic Moment Rising Falling Action Action Lead 8 Ways Character Is Revealed 1. Action Exposition Resolution 2. Dialogue 3. Appearance 4. Objects/Possessions 5. Idiosyncracies 6. Exposition/Background Option 2: 1 2 3 4 5 6 nd Lead: 2 thing that happens Teaching the Short Story 13Mini Lesson: The Climactic Moment Lesson Created by Dewey Hensley Which of the following two climactic moments works best? Climactic Moment A Ben walked into the room and stared at Mr. Hensley. He walked back to his seat and sat there with nothing in his hands and thought about how Hensley had better leave him alone today. Just as his friend Anthony had said earlier, there was little chance Hensley would leave anyone alone. As soon as Mr. Hensley called for the writer’s notebooks to come out, Ben knew there was going to be trouble. He sat there wondering if Hensley noticed if he had it or not. Suddenly Hensley said his name. Ben just sat there and told Hensley he didn’t have his materials. The teacher became very angry and began to spit out words. “Get out of here if you don’t have your stuff” Ben stood up slowly and walked to the front of the room. As he passed Hensley, the teacher said, “You had better get a new attitude, kid.” Suddenly all the anger that had built up from the day spilled out of Ben. He pushed the teacher backwards and Hensley fell on the floor. As Ben moved toward the door, tears rolled down his face. He could hear Hensley’s loud voice “You did it now, Ben . . .” Ben slammed the door as he left. As Ben drove down Pacific Highway, he thought about that day when he came unglued. He thought about Tony, his mom, the hallways at school. He wondered now what was right or wrong and if he had screwed up his life as bad as he thought. When he stared at the ocean beating against the shore, he knew life would be different for him now and he wondered if people can really make it right when you take the wrong path. Climactic Moment B Ben erupted through the door. As he walked to the back of the room, he stared at Hensley with the contempt a dead man walking has for his executioner. When he fell into the seat at the back of the classroom, he watched Hensley moving around the front of the room. The teacher’s beady eyes seemed to follow everyone as they crowded into the classroom. Just like Anthony had said earlier, everyone hated Hensley and his aggressive ways. He was always picking on kids for no reason. With everything that had happened to him that day, Ben just hoped Hensley had the good sense to leave him alone. As he sat there, Ben’s muscles tightened. “Please don’t say ‘get out your writer’s notebooks’ again today.” “Get out your writer’s notebooks,” Hensley’s voice boomed. He sounded like a broken jukebox always playing the same warped record day after day. Hensley stood before the 25 students. Ben could see his round figure and the way he always clapped his hands together at the beginning of class as if he were a band director. Ben lowered his eyes, hoping that if he didn’t Teaching the Short Story 14Mini Lesson: The Climactic Moment Created by Dewey Hensley page 2 see Hensley, perhaps Hensley would not see him. Suddenly Ben’s silence was shattered. “I said, Ben, where is your notebook?” Ben heard his mom’s words echo from the morning. “What are you gonna do with yourself, Ben?” He heard the sound of the hallway and the birds singing outside the window. He heard the rumble of his car’s motor. He saw flashes of the western sky. “I don’t have it.” Ben’s words caused most of the class to take a deep breath. Anthony looked across the room and began to mouth the words, “No, Ben . . . don’t.” But it was too late. Ben was ready to break the chains that had held him in place. “I said I don’t have it,” Ben continued, “because it is a pile of crap. You always make us do this junk for no reason. I am tired of it and I am tired of you.” Like spectators at a tennis match, the students turned their heads to stare at the teacher. He stood there, the copy of Weetzie Bat slowly slipping between his fingers. A large vein rose on his temple and his brow wrinkled like a mountain range spread across the globe the students looked at in Geography. He shuffled back on his heels and his eyes narrowed. He shot laser beams across the room at Ben. “What did you say, young man?” The spectators turned. “I said you, this writer’s notebook, this class . . . hell, this entire school, are full of crap” Ben’s voice had turned into a low squeal, but his face had grown older, like stone rubbed raw by years of wind and rain. “Get out,” Hensley responded. He could barely contain the rage inside him. The class stopped watching and began to lower their heads. When Ben did not move immediately, Hensley repeated himself. Ben thought to himself it was typical for Hensley to repeat himself. Ben stood up and began to navigate through the row of chairs. The cuffs of his worn khakis scraped against the carpeted floor as he made his way toward the front of the room. His head was up but his eyes were lowered. As he passed by Tony, he touched him on the shoulder. Tony lowered his head onto the desk. When Ben moved closer to Hensley, the teacher reached out and wrapped his hand around Ben’s arm. “Really smart, Ben . . . you are just like the rest of ‘em.” All of the day’s events rushed through Ben’s veins. Almost like a reflex, he struck out. He shook Hensley’s hand away with one arm and brought his elbow up quickly, catching Hensley square on the jaw. The thud rang out across the room like a bass drum. One person in the class gasped; another whistled and the others just sat there. Hensley raised his arm to protect his face. Ben brought his other hand hard into the teacher’s stomach. Breath drained from the teacher and he fell backwards onto the blue carpet. Ben stared down at the teacher and the reality of what he had just done began to set in. He turned and began to walk toward the door. Everyone stared at him. He walked to the door and for good measure, he slammed it as he exited into a world much different from the one he had been in before. Teaching the Short Story 15Open Response Test English Open Response Tests test your ability to think on high levels and apply your knowledge to a task or a question. There are several things you need to do to be successful on Open Response. 1. Dissect the question; know what it is asking you to do. 2. Use a prewriting technique like the Four Column Method to plan your answer. 3. Write your answer completely; don’t worry about polishing it because it is not a final draft or a publishable piece of writing. 4. Make certain you answer every part of the question. 5. Take time to look over your answer and add anything you may have forgotten. The Question The plots of novels are almost always built around conflict. Over the past two weeks, you have had the opportunity to read your book and Witch Baby. Compare and contrast the conflicts in your book and in Witch Baby. Identify these conflicts. Which is more realistic? Make certain you provide the title of your book and refer to specific scenes. You can do prewriting below, but answer your question on your own paper . . . remember there are three options here I have taught you: Venn Diagram Compare/Contrast Chart Four Column Method Teaching the Short Story 16Student Name: Reading Test: Climactic Moments and Resolutions When we discussed short stories we talked about how most novels have a climactic moment and a resolution to the story. We said the climactic moment is the point where the conflict comes to a head at the end of the book; it is the moment of truth for the characters. We also said the resolution is how everything ends up for all the characters in the book. In as much detail as possible, describe the climactic moment of your novel. Then, explain how everything is resolved for the characters in the book. In other words, tell what happens to each of the characters in the story. Title of Your Book: Answer Teaching the Short Story 17Short Story Leads: Hooking the Reader Begin a story in the middle of a conversation. “If you don’t put that away right now, you and I are gonna have problems,” Carla snarled as Janet scribbled in her writer’s notebook. Janet stared at her round face, squinting eyes, and muscular arms crossed in front of her chest for just a second, snarled right back at her, and continued to write furiously. All the other students around the playground were quiet. “Just who do you think you are?” Mrs. Fleming asked as April slammed her notebook on the desk. Begin with a description: Millie’s face turned red when she entered the room. Stapled on the walls all around were pictures of her. There she was holding the first place trophy high above her head after her team won the state basketball tournament. Above the dresser was a poster-size photograph of her eighth grade graduation; she was standing proudly at the podium delivering her class president’s speech. To the left of the door was a collage of all her school pictures dating back to first grade, her gap-toothed smile framed by her dark face and tangled brown hair. How had someone she had never seen before created such a monument in her honor? Jason’s house was a lot like a museum. There were pretty, breakable objects everywhere and you weren’t allowed to touch a thing. Begin with background information (exposition): Kevin was accustomed to being first. Since he had started track, a sixth grader on the high school team, he had always been a champion. As long as she could rememer, Dimein’s name had always been mispronounced by the teacher on the first day of school. Begin with a peek into a character’s mind: Not this time, you won’t, I thought as I stood there staring into my father’s eyes. I picked up the basketball and began to dribble with my left hand. How could things have gone so wrong? I asked myself, as I looked out over a sea of laughing faces. Start with a simile, metaphor, hyperbole, or pun: They murdered him. (The Chocolate War) Start with a startling statement: When I was little, I would think of ways to kill my daddy. (Ellen Foster) Start with a question: What would you do if you were standing in the mall one day minding your own business, when suddenly, the girl who you knew you would spend your whole life with . . . the girl who makes your heart beat like the drumming in Metallica’s best songs . . . the woman whose fingers Teaching the Short Story 18could crush you like a bug or hold you like a delicate flower . . . walks by? What would you do if you had never seen her before and did not even know her name? You would do what I did, turn red in the face and tell your posse to quit starin’. Have you ever eaten one of those sugar-coated pieces of fried dough at the fair? I think they’re called elephant ears or some such. Begin with a quote from a song, movie, famous person or book: David stared at the poster through the store window. It was a sketch of a man. “Nothing can be loved or hated until it is first understood” was written below the picture, with the name Leonardo DaVinci. If only his parents would follow that DaVinci’s advice. “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” Kevin spun in circles as he listened to his older brother’s old R.E.M. record in the basement. In a time like this, the lyrics seemed particularly suitable. Teaching the Short Story 19Leads “Dewey’s Day at the Campground” Dewey has been attempting to write the story of an exciting event that happened when he went camping. Look at the leads below and tell which one would engage you at the start making you want to continue reading the piece. 1. Hi. My name is Dewey and I am going to tell you about the time I went camping and had a big adventure. 2. It was a warm day outside when I went camping. The sun was shining brightly and I knew it was going to be a wonderful, wonderful day. 3. That morning I got up and began to get ready for my trip. I put all the sandwiches and drinks in the cooler and got out my maps. I loaded up the back of my pick-up truck and said goodbye to all my girlfriends. This trip was something I had looked forward to for a long time; a chance to get away from everything. 4. “Hello,” I said, as I walked up to the forest ranger. She was standing beside the standard issue red Jeep Cherokee; her blonde hair fell like a waterfall down her shoulders. As she turned, her eyes twinkled like sunlight across an aqua stream. 5. “Take a picture,” she said. “It will last longer.” 6. I could hear the deep, rolling growl as the hulking figure moved around the campsite, his silhouette blocking out the glow of the fire. My heart was beating so loudly I was afraid the massive creature wreaking havoc outside my tent could hear every thump. Suddenly, the giant bear shadow stopped moving and turned to face my tent; as I sat there, my breathing shallow, I began to wonder if this camping trip was such a good idea after all. It had all started with a fluke. I heard a report on National Public Radio about John Starks, a man who had hiked the entire 1600 miles of the Appalachian Trail alone . . . Teaching the Short Story 20Response Group Grade Sheet Created by Dewey Hensley, South Oldham High School Each response group is worth 15 points. 1 2 3 Position Attention Responds On Task Has Paper Total Points: Teaching the Short Story 21Short Story Conference Form 1. Does the lead engage the reader? (Audience awareness) 2. Can you find evidence of these things? (Idea development) • Similes • Metaphors • Word pictures • Mind pictures • Sensory details • Climactic moment • Clincher 3. Is the story organized so you can follow it? Where do you get confused? Problem Words and Sentences Teaching the Short Story 22

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