Short story lessons

These lessons, videos and clips are designed, planned, presented and produced by the students themselves. Technical imperfections are ok!

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Escape the Colony

“Princess Bala! Princess Bala! It’s me, Z, from the bar, remember?” I call, but she doesn’t seem to hear. I jump and wave my hands in the air, trying to get her attention. She still doesn’t notice me.

“Hey, you! Get back into position.” General Mandible commands, but I ignore him.

“Princess Bala, I have come to see you.” I wave again. Her head turns my way, and her eyes go wide. She has spotted me. I wave at her, but she just looks at me. I push past the soldiers to get closer to her.

“Soldier, get back into position!” General Mandible shouts again. I continue pushing past the soldiers. “Soldier, do you hear me? Get back into position, or there will be consequences.”

“Princess B-” I begin, but I am interrupted by General Mandible.

“Get him out!” he roars, “How dare you ignore my orders. You will expect a visit from me tomorrow morning, you are going to prison.”

Two soldiers appear at my sides, and carry me away by my arms.

        I can’t believe Princess Bala didn’t even try to stop General Mandible. She obviously doesn’t feel the same about me as I feel about her. Weaver was right, what chance do I have with a princess? I am just a neurotic worker ant with a negative attitude.

Suddenly I remember something- the crazy old man at the bar. There is a better place, Insectopia. Head for the monolith! The streets are paved with food. His words echo in my head. It sounds better than prison…considerably better than prison. I just need to find a way to get past the guards at the entrance of the colony.

        I pace up and down, trying to think of a way to distract them.

        “Psst, Z,” someone whispers.

I stop pacing and squint at the dark corner of the room. My eyes can just make out a figure standing there. The figure steps into the light. “Princess Bala?” I gush in surprise.

        “Shh, no one can know I’m here.” She says, “I am sorry about General Mandible, but you shouldn’t have come for me. I really like you, Z, but I’m getting married soon-”

        “What? Married? To whom?” I interrupt.

        “General Mandible, of course…”

        “You like that guy?” I chide.

        “No, but I don’t exactly have a choice, it’s my duty to the colony” She grimaces. “I would take any opportunity to get away, though.”

        “Alright, I guess you should go back to General Mandible, then. He probably has the whole colony looking for you. I need to get out of this place before morning.”  

          She beams at me. “Take me with you!”

        “Sorry, but it’s hard enough getting one person past the guards at the entrance, never mind the princess.

        “I can help! Please, I don’t want to get married to General Mandible.” She pleads.

        I bite my lip, and say, “Alright, fine, let’s do this!”

Literary terms: the significance of 4 literary terms as they relate to the story, explaining how the terms bring deeper meaning to the story (lesson plan)

Lesson plan (Jack, grade 7)

Short StoriesThe Friday everything changed (Inside Stories I, Second Edition, Kirkland G. and Davies R., Harcourt Canada Ltd., Toronto, 1999)

  1. Select four terms from the list below and explain the significance of each, as it relates to the story. Explain how the terms bring deeper meaning to the story.
  2. Literary terms:
    1. irony
    2. suspense
    3. motivation
    4. style- yes

Lesson title: style spoiling

Date: Tuesday 19 2012

Purpose: I want to teach them how to write an enjoyable short story. focusing on style, motivation, irony and suspense.

Learning Outcomes: What it is and how to use it.

Pre-test: watch a clip from slender


  1. Class, today I’m going to be teaching you about style, suspense, irony and motivation.
  2. After I show you the video I want you to answer some questions and or tell me if you understand it better.
  3. This will apply to every video I wil show you.

a) Suspense (slender video)


  1. Was the suspense building from the beginning to end ?
  2. Did you want to know what happened at the end

Well, you were curious … I could tell!

b) Irony (Jake’s irony video)


  1. Was that funny?
  2. Why?
  3. How is it related to irony?

c) Motivation

I know this is the same video that miss Nascimento used but its good for this purpose too.


  1. Does this motivate you to go buy their product?
  2. Why?

Another example is in Percy Jackson, the Sea of Monsters. Percy’s motivation to do the quest is to save his friend.

d) Style
Class, I want you to tell me the reasons why you might not want to read a book  It might be, for example, because someone told you what happened, right. “Oh, remember, that one part in the book when the library explodes”. “No, I haven’t read it yet dude!”. “Oh”. And then you don’t want to read the book because you know what happens. The only reason you read books is because you want to know what happens. So that’s why when you’re writing a short story you want to keep them guessing what’s gonna happen.  That is what style is abut … the way in which you write the book.

Ending Paragraph: I’m now going to ask you a question individually

Hannah: what did you like learning about the most in this lesson?
Kyhlam: question?
Mark: question?
Sarah: question?

Now for the final question: can anyone give me an example of irony?

Thank you for listening to me.

Short story: analysis of the role of conflict (Lesson Plan)

Lesson plan (Mark, grade 8)

Short Stories: The Friday everything changed, The Sea Devil (Inside Stories I, Second Edition, Kirkland G. and Davies R., Harcourt Canada Ltd., Toronto, 1999)

Major conflict changes how a plot may develop, and without conflict there would be no interesting book. In a story a character comes across a problem which has to be solved. This is the conflict, and how the character interacts with the problem changes the plot of the story.

To analyze major conflict we must first find out what the conflict within that piece of Literature. We then think about how that changes the course of the story and how it relates to life today or in the past, or anything. For example a character had to be sent to a place to be able to fix his problem. And finally what makes this the major conflict within a story.

In the story “The Friday everything Changed” the Major conflict is that the boys always want to take the water, but the problem is the girls want a chance too. And so the major conflict is between the boys and the girls both want to take the water and are fighting for it. This changes the story in the end as the girls get to take the water and have equal rights to the boys. In the past girls used to not have the same rights as boys, and in some countries today this is still an issue.

Now its your turn, tell me what the major conflict in “The Sea Devil”. (LET THEM READ IT IF NEEDED)

The conflict is that the man is caught in his own rope being pulled along to his death by the sea devil

If they are right: Get them to tell me how that changes the story and how it relates to anything.

If wrong: Tell them what it is then get them to do the same as above.

In order to analyze major conflict we have to find it first. Then when we are analyzing it we have to find connections to other things, and find out how it changes the story. How would “The Sea Devil” end if the conflict was not the same?

Point of view: discuss how ‘point of view’ affects the story/stories (lesson plan)

Lesson plan (Sarah, grade 9)

Short StoriesBarneyThe Wish (Inside Stories I, Second Edition, Kirkland G. and Davies R., Harcourt Canada Ltd., Toronto, 1999)

1. On the overhead show the two following stories and ask them to read it to themselves and them when everyone is done to point out the differences.

Will Stanton
Barney pg. 4

SEPTEMBER 8TH. For the past two days i have had to keep Barney confined and how he hates it. I am afraid that when my experiments are completed I shall have to do away with Barney. Ridiculous as it may sound there is still the possibility that he might be able to communicate his intelligence to others of his kind. However small the chance may be, the risk is too great to ignore. Fortunately there is, in the basement, a vault built with the idea of keeping verin out, and it will serve equally well to keep Barney in.

Roald Dahl

THE WISH pg. 2

You see, he told himself, I know how it is. The red parts of the carpet are red-hot lumps of coal. What I must do is this: I must walk all the way along it to the front door without touching them. If I touch the red I will be burnt. As a matter of fact, I will be burnt up completely. And the black parts of the carpet… yes, the black parts are snakes, poisonous snakes, adders mostly, and cobras, thick like tree-trunks round the middle, and if I touch one of them, I’ll be bitten and I’ll die before tea time. And if I get across safely, without being burnt and without being bitten, I will be given a puppy for my birthday tomorrow.

2. Explain what point of view is, the different types (limited omniscient, Omniscient, Objective/ camera view, and First person) and how it affects the atmosphere using the two stories on the board as examples.
3. Show them “Lamb to the Slaughter Part 1”:

Ask them to rewrite the conversation that the husband and his wife had that made her kill him in the point of view, first person to the man and write what you think he told her. Ask them to read out there rewrite.

4. What does the author say and do to show the point of view and how does it change the atmosphere?
5. From what they remember from the end of the story “The Wish” ask them to rewrite an alternative ending (3-4 sentences) in a different point of view that they can chose.

Setting: analysing the significance of ‘setting’ in a short story (lesson plan)

Lesson plan (Khylam, grade 9)

Short Stories: Barney, Sea Devil, The Wish (Inside Stories I, Second Edition, Kirkland G. and Davies R., Harcourt Canada Ltd., Toronto, 1999)

1.I will set up the projector and open the needed documents on my computer beforehand. To start, I will tell them to get out their short story books and their laptops. They will write their own setting/beginning of a short story on 1 pre-made google doc that I will share before my lesson. They will write their introductions and I will read them. 2 minutes writing, 5 minute reading

2. I will say that by the end, they will know how to write setting and why it is so important.10 seconds.

3. I will tell them what setting essentially is (time, place, atmosphere), then I will refer to the stories and relate those settings to the students’ written settings via discussion and the use of technology. I will say that setting is significant because it dictates the quality and plot of the story. I will show what the authors did right and wrong compared to the students via discussion. I will also project their writing on the whiteboard at the same time. I will also mention in mediis res and ab ovo(in the middle of the action and at the beginning). I will say what it means. I will also say that being concise when writing setting is important. 5 minutes.

4. I will let them read the beginnings of the short stories that I chose and tell them to pay attention to setting. 5 minutes.

5. I will ask them what the key concepts are in setting and correct them if they are wrong via discussion. 2 minutes

6. I will give them a starting point in the form of a single and random word so that they can write a single (not a run-on or comma splice) sentence for the setting of a short story on a second pre-made google doc. 1 minute.

7. They will expand on their sentences to write the beginning to a short story. 3 minutes.

Characterisation: analyse the significance and role of the characters in a short story

Lesson (Hannah, grade 9)

Hannah wrote an original short story to “analyse the significance and role of the character(s)”.  Her own short story, “the table”, written in her own inimitable style provides a number of interesting perspectives (no pun intended!).

Characterisation: analyse the significance and role of the characters in a short story (lesson plan)

Lesson plan (Hannah, grade 9)

Read the text of The Table to the class:
I woke up at 3 AM and walked outside to my table. The table spoke to me as it always does when it needs to be fed. I told the table, “hold on, I shall return”. When I came back outside with a handful of duck food, the table was covered in blood and greyish fur, and on the ground was a dislocated head of a squirrel soaked in blood. The table stood there with a smug look. I backed away slowly, turned around, and started sprinting back into my house. I locked myself in my room and called 911. “hello is this an emergency” “yes” “ok” *click* wait, that sounded like the table. I immediately took my war axe out, ran back outside, and slashed the table to shards of wood. Blood and duck food flew over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. The neighbors started screaming and I jumped over the fence to explain that it’s okay, it was only a table, but that only angered them more. They pulled out their shotguns and shot at me screaming “AMURICAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I dodged the bullets and jumped back over the fence but their rabid dog followed me. It chased me through my house and out to the street. The cops were waiting outside and just as the dog bit my hand, they shot the dog with a sleeping dart and put him in a cage. One of the policemen started questioning me, telling me it’s illegal to possess a table before it’s killed. How should I know? The IKEA instructions didn’t warn me. The cop informed me it was in the fine print, and now I am in jail.

Questions for class discussion:

  1. Was the protagonist dynamic?
  2. Was the main character a round or flat character?