Strategies for Teaching Short Stories in the Secondary ELA Classroom

Strategies for Teaching Short Stories

Short stories are easily one of my favorite types of texts to teach! They are short, which the students already appreciate, but they are also jam-packed with so much complexity and meaning!

An author can embed messages and observations about life in ways that informational texts cannot, and this makes reading them that much more enjoyable!

Teaching short stories and teaching students how to interpret and analyze a short story can be overwhelming. There is so much packed into one short story, it can be hard to figure out how best to approach it.

Teaching Short Stories: Start With the Basics

My best piece of advice when teaching short stories is to start small and work your way towards fewer scaffolds and more complex texts. To accomplish this, I am sharing with you a couple activities that I use in my own classroom to help break it down into more manageable pieces.

Another great way to introduce students to all of the basics is to have them work through this Elements of Fiction Escape Room. As students work together to complete a set of tasks, they will learn all about plot, conflict, setting, and more!

Teaching Short Stories: Include Academic Vocabulary

Before diving into actually analyzing short stories, it’s best to make sure your students have an understanding of the academic vocabulary you will be using and expect them to use.

In my Academic Vocabulary Bundle for Secondary English, I included a series of activities that are designed to be fun and engaging and also help students with some of the more challenging words and concepts they will be required to know and use correctly in context (such as diction, connotation, and point-of-view.
Teaching Vocabulary for Short Stories
Academic Vocabulary Bundle for Secondary English

This is perfect to use to teach students new terms or even as a review from the previous school year!

Teaching Short Stories: Incorporating Literary Analysis

To get students thinking critically, I also created an interactive Sticky Note Literary Analysis unit. This unit is jam-packed full of activities, lessons, and resources designed to help students learn how to thoroughly analyze literature! If you’d like to read more about how I teach short stories using this resource, check out my blog about how I teach short stories with a close reading perspective.

This resource includes an editable PowerPoint presentation for teaching literary devices and short stories, 17 interactive literary device organizers, 13 writing prompts with outlines, 2 rubrics, teacher instructions, a sample week lesson plan, and suggested stories and paired literary devices!
My favorite part about this resource is that there is little prep work for the busy teacher! You choose the text to use and watch your students become engaged and learn! (As an added hint: try to snag some colorful sticky notes! For some reason, students work harder when there are fun colors involved!)

Looking for more? Check out these other teaching resources!
Short Story Teaching Unit: A Unit For ALL Short Stories
Short Stories Close Reading Bundle (Digital and Print)
Strategies for Teaching Short Stories


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