The short story has developed from man’s earliest attempts to teach his fellow man. From the first fireside tale of the hunt and adventures of the day, to the parables of the Bible, to the myths and fables of ancient time, man instinctively related many of the happenings of his day in a story.
Today’s short story shares the purpose of its forerunners. It fulfills a need within man to communicate with others, and is perpetuated because of the human being’s insatiable hunger for a good story. It is appropriate, therefore, that we as teachers use this most basic method of teaching within our classrooms, for a child, too, loves nothing more than a good story.
Within the framework of a typical middle school day, each subject receives an allocated amount of time. All teachers have strained within the confines of a “period” to fit in all that is suppose to be taught. It is because of this time restraint that the short story can be used so beautifully within out time framework as teachers. The novel is a luxury that, though appreciated would have to be discussed a few chapters at a time, in between grammar phonics, spelling, vocabulary building, and reading.
The brevity of the short story not only serves well within the typical middle school schedule, it also conforms to the attention span of the middle school student. Longer works, such as the novel can be read by a middle school student, however, if the work is to be used to analyze the elements of a story, the short story is preferable because of its length. Analysis, discussion, and appreciation takes time and concentration, beginnings and ends, It is essential that the student’s attention be held in the process.
The short story lends itself to interdisciplinary teaching. It is a vehicle through which so many of the above skills mentioned can be taught while introducing the students to a wide variety of good stories from master writers.
is designed to be taught as a year-long project. The lessons are structured so that a complete lesson can be taught in two day classes with two evenings of homework. The lessons will be taught bi-weekly. This enables the teacher a week in between lectures to correct writing assignments from each lesson and prepare work for the next.
This unit is written primarily for advanced readers in the middle school. It is to be a tool for the middle school teacher to use as an interdisciplinary method of teaching the many language arts skills required of him or her. In addition, it will enable the teacher to have the students enjoy a literature experience as well. Overall, however, it is the primary goal of this unit to use the short story as a catalyst for students’ creative writing.