short stories

Here is the planning guide we looked at in class for the short story final project.


English I Honors students had a final opportunity to do some in-class writing about “The Cask of Amontillado,” which is due tonight (for those who didn’t finish in class) at midnight.

English 8 students continued with their Friday individual work regarding the article of the week and our inference work.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • turn in the “Amontillado” paragraph (if you haven’t already);
    • begin assessing the paragraph (due Monday).
Close Reading and Comics

English 8 students finished up the first chapter of Nightjohn, wrapping up the introductory look at the elements that create a sense of voice.


We also practiced some close reading to determine the meaning of a particular passage.


English I Honors did some work with “The Cask of Amontillado,” working with a partner to work out any comprehension issues and answer a couple of key comprehension questions.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • re-read the story;
    • complete the comic strip;
    • complete the paraphrase from yesterday.
Character and Effective Readers

ernest hemingway photo
Photo by The U.S. National Archives

English I Honors continued with their short stories unit by looking at the next story, “The Old Man on the Bridge” by Hemingway. English 8 students worked with effective readers’ skills.

  • English 8 Studies: complete today’s in-class work on slave codes and effective readers’ skills.
  • English I Honors: find three pieces of evidence in the text (download here) that the old man has lost his family and is caring for the animals because they’re all that’s left him.
Schaffer Analysis, Library, and Finishing Up Moodle

English 8 students went to the library to pick out a book for their first one pager, which will be due in several weeks. We also worked on replying to each others’ posts in Moodle forums and using the quiz module.

English I Honors students began their analytic Schaffer paragraph, working with the story “The Sniper” and the importance of setting. (The stories are available at the Moodle web site.

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Third period planning
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Fourth period planning
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the planning of the paragraph begun in class.
Socratic Seminar and a Forum

English I Honors students began preparing for their first analytic Schaffer paragraph, which will deal with the short story “The Sniper.”



English 8 students used the Moodle forum feature for the first time. We walked through how to use it and how to write productive posts.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: continue working on the benchmark test.

English I Honors spent another day planning their short story major project. They will have about another week to work on it.

English Strategies and English Studies completed major chapters in Nightjohn by applying the “Somebody Wanted But So” engagement.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • assess the “Magi”/”Necklace” paragraph (at the Moodle site);
    • continue planning and writing the final project.

English I Honors had some time today to work on the culminating project for the short stories unit. English Studies worked on their theme exploration of Nightjohn. English Strategies finished up their work on chapter four in Nightjohn and had some modeling of the effective readers’ skills.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • continue planning for “Tell-Tale Heart”;
    • assess “Magi”/”Necklace” writing (last one!) on the Moodle site.

English I Honors students had a few minutes to work on their last assignment for the short story unit before beginning the cumulative project. English Studies and English Strategies worked on Nightjohn and effective readers’ skills.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: 
    • complete the chapter 5 reader’s journal (on Google Classroom);
    • complete the chapter 5 comprehension questions (on the Moodle site);
    • complete the chapter 5 “It Says/I Say” engagement (on Google Classroom;
    • turn all the above work in.
  • English I Honors: 
    • turn in your paragraph on “Magi” or “Necklace” by tonight (at the Moodle site);
    • re-read “The Tell-Tale Heart” and come to class with one question you need answered about the text.

English Strategies students (fourth period) applied the skills they worked on during Monday’s and Tuesday’s classes with a partner to a new selection, an informational text about slaves and traditions they brought from Africa.

English Studies students continued chapter four work, writing their journal entry and working with their groups for on the theme work.

English I Honors students began the final writing selection, which will focus on irony and symbolism. We worked on our model story, “Peter and Rosa,” coming up with a few possible topic sentences:

  • The captain’s wife’s jealousy caused her to go blind as well as the ship when she removes the blue stones because she and the ship symbolize each other.
  • The captain’s wife’s jealousy of the figurehead’s stones, which symbolized her eyes, caused her to lose her eyesight and her husband.

We’ll continue working on it tomorrow.

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • use the topic sentences above to determine two quotes from the story that we could use in CDs;
    • turn in your “Cask of Amontillado” writing;
    • read “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Necklace,” both of which are available on the Moodle site.

Rather than rehash the day (it’s Friday and we’re all tired), let’s just get to the homework…

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: re-read “Thank You, M’am” (see Moodle site) looking for quotes to use as evidence as to why the protagonist helps Roger.
  • Journalism: none.

English Studies finished up their group work on determining voice. We’ll be pulling it all together tomorrow.

English Strategies finished their first journal entries and began the work a voice that English Studies finished up today.

English I Honors students began the next section of the short stories unit, looking at characterization this time around.

Verbs and Preparation

English I Honors students spent the day working on their final project for the short story/writing about literature unit. That will be due next Friday.



English 8 Strategies students actually did two different things today: first period worked on identifying subjects and predicates in our continuing first-quarter focus on the sentence as a basic element of writing. Seeing that some were having difficulty determining the main verb in a few sentences, I retooled the lesson during the planning period to back up a bit for fifth period and cover verbs first. We’ll get everyone back on the same page next Thursday.

Creative writing students continued getting used to the web site we will be using to publish our creative works and typing in their first final drafts.

  • English 8 Strategies: first period: take five found sentences and identify the subjects and prediates.
  • English I Honors: complete the short story project by Friday 26 September
  • Journalism: none.
Socratic Firsts and Sentence Practice

English 8 students worked on their sentence work for the week. We’re learning how to craft sentences that begin with participial phrases.

We had some practice as a class and as pairs, creating some masterful sentences:

For instance, we took “Sally reached into her purse. She was looking for her sunglasses.” and transformed the sentences into two different versions:

  • Looking for her sunglasses, Sally reached into her purse.
  • Reaching into her purse, Sally looked for her sunglasses.

Students will return to the work next Wednesday when we return to our writer’s craft lessons.

English I Honors students learned how to do the tag-team Socratic seminar. Students worked on the following discussion questions about “The Cask of Amontillado.”

  1. Who is the narrator? What can we say about his mental state?
  2. Who is the victim? What can we saw about his personality?
  3. Who is the audience? To whom is the narrator speaking and why is this important?
  4. Can we trust this narrator? Is he telling the truth? Is he concealing anything?

Afterward students conducted their first Socratic seminars.