The availability of classroom materials is a primary concern of every public school educator. Generally it becomes easier to use what one has rather than to seek out what one needs. A benefit of this unit is that it can easily be adapted to use what materials a teacher has or can obtain. The stories I will suggest in my student bibliography are the result of my own subjective choice based upon my preferences. They constitute neither the greatest nor the poorest examples of stories which can be used for this unit. The most important factor to remember in using this unit is the method of study, the hermeneutic, rather than what is studied.
I can offer several suggestions here to those teachers who, like me, can never find adequate materials in their own book closet. One solution is to search your school for literature anthologies. Oftentimes, if you look hard enough, you can find several anthologies that are not being used and pull the best stories from each. Another method of gaining materials is to photocopy the stories. Remember that these are short stories and photocopying costs will not be that expensive. If you should choose to photocopy, make only eight to ten copies of each story. There is no reason that the entire class must be reading the same story at precisely the same time. Those who wish to borrow the materials for this unit will find that this is a method in which I totally believe.
A final suggestion for obtaining materials for the teaching of this unit is to secure one copy of a short story you wish to use and read that selection to the class. I do not recommend this method as your only stratagem, but it will do very nicely when the story is one that can be read comfortably in a class period. This procedure could even possibly be delegated to a student in the class, but I caution you to use only superior readers as this is a unit of literature and not one of reading improvement.
I plan to use the unit within the confines of a marking period or two depending on the class being instructed. Thus, if we say that two marking periods represent twenty weeks in time, I should have twenty or so stories at my disposal. Each story may be introduced on a Monday, for instance, discussed on a Tuesday (or even Monday if it were read in class), and the writing assignment would be due on Thursday or Friday. Total class time used during the week would be approximately one and a half periods although this could be extended to two periods or shortened to just a half period of discussion. The unit is such, however, that it could be used throughout the year on a more irregular basis or compressed to a daily routine for a much shorter period of time.
This unit is designed primarily for eighth grade students of average to above average ability. I would not hesitate to use the unit with a good seventh grade class. The method of instruction is one that I feel can be used for grades seven through twelve inclusive. As students gain years they gain experience and maturity. Their frame of reference expands, and their character becomes more rounded. Since the writing assignments are geared toward establishing a metaphor between the fictional experience and the student’s own experience, students in the higher grades should have even an easier task when instructed with the unit than their middle school counterparts.
The actual implementation of this unit including story selection and class time allotments should, as I have mentioned above, be up to each teacher’s judgment. I should like, however, to make several suggestions regarding the sequence of the unit—suggestions which I feel are important to the implementation of the unit. My first recommendation is that the unit begin with the reading of fables. I state this for several reasons. First, fables are very short and several can be discussed with justice in a single class period. Second, fables are readily available in most anthologies thus minimizing the teacher’s efforts to locate materials. Thirdly, the fable is the classic forerunner (along with the
) of the short story, and what better way to begin than at the beginning. Lastly, and most importantly, fables spell out their purpose, their lesson, their moral for the reader thus making it relatively simple for the student to both experience the literature and substantiate the metaphor.