Teaching high school English students to write short stories requires a creative approach. By coming up with an engaging short story lesson plan, you may unleash what becomes a lifelong appreciation for this genre while also unearthing fiction writing talents. Discover how to create a story writing lesson plan that teaches students what they need to know to craft their own short stories
Analyzing a Short Story Lesson Plan
Use this lesson plan to guide students through the experience of analyzing a short story. Do this before assigning them to write a story.
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to discuss and analyze a short story, as well as recognize key elements of a short story.
Explain what a short story is, be sure to cover how this type of writing differs from other forms of creative writing. Keep in mind that the purpose of this part of the lesson plan is to prepare students with what they need to know to write their own short stories.
Activity: Select a Short Story
Assign students a specific short story to read. Choose an appropriate short story for high school students consistent with the overall class focus.
Once students have read the story, lead an in-class discussion focused on a surface level analysis of the text. Ask students to identify things like:
- overall plot of the short story
- overall theme of the story
- main characters (protagonist, antagonist or others)
- point of view used in the story
- literary devices used by the author
- what they like about the way the story is written
- what they don't like about the way the story is written
Homework: Literary Analysis Essay
Following the class discussion, encourage students to further explore the short story by writing a literary analysis essay. Ask them to include a few examples of things they may have done differently if they had written the story.
Writing an Original Story Lesson Plan
Use this lesson plan when it's time for students to use their creative writing skills to craft a short story of their own.
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to write an original short story. This lesson will serve to develop students' creative writing skills and display experience writing creatively in the medium of the short story.
Lead a class discussion in which you ask students to share the suggestions they came up with for improving the short story they just finished reading and analyzing.
Segue the debriefing of the previous lesson to a discussion on writing short stories. Ask students to share their thoughts on what it takes to write an effective short story now that they have read and analyzed one.
Activity: Anecdote Writing
Tell students that they'll soon be tasked with writing a short story of their own, but that as a way of preparing you are now challenging them to come up with a brief anecdote they can write a few paragraphs about to share with the class. Explain that this activity will provide practice writing in a storytelling style.
- Explain what an anecdote is and how it relates to a short story.
- Clarify that the anecdote should be something that really happened and that can be explained very briefly (much shorter than an actual short story).
- Provide an example of an anecdote by sharing one of your own.
- After you share your anecdote, ask students to share their thoughts on how the anecdote you told is different from a short story.
- Assign students to write an anecdote for homework. If you plan to ask them to read their anecdotes aloud in class, let them know this in advance as it may affect the story they choose to tell.
- Consider setting a word limit for the anecdote students are being asked to write, such as a range of 75-150 words.
- Collect the anecdotes from students to review and provide feedback.
- Lead a class discussion in which you ask students to share what they learned from the anecdote writing activity.
Once the anecdote writing activity has been completed, it's time to finish preparing students to write their own short stories.
- Cover the essential elements of story writing with the class.
- Discuss how to write a short story in detail.
- Ask students to share their thoughts and questions related to writing a short story. Address their concerns.
Homework: Short Story Writing Activity
Now it's time for students to craft their own short stories. Allow a few days for this assignment as they may need a bit of time to come up with an idea and craft it into a well-written story.
- Depending on the needs of your class, you may want to assign a specific topic, theme or genre for students to focus their story on.
- Alternately, you may want to ask students to come up with their own topic and title. If desired, you can require (or offer) to review their titles in advance, assisting with tweaking as appropriate.
- The short story writing assignment can be strictly a homework assignment, or you can allow class time for students to write. If you allow class time, still allow students to do additional work as homework because not everyone will be able to write at the same pace.
- Request students submit a draft of their short stories to you for review and provide feedback. Provide thoughtful feedback and return stories for further adjustment prior to assigning a grade.
- Collect short stories for evaluation and grading; return to students with feedback. Select a few of the best examples and ask the students if they would be open to sharing their stories with the class.
- After getting permission from a few students to share stories, present a few to the class for a peer review.
- Lead a class discussion focused on the original student short stories presented to the class. Alternately, assign stories to small groups and have students discuss among themselves.
Story Writing Debrief
Dedicate some class time to debrief students' story writing experience. This will allow you to answer any lingering questions and provide additional information to budding writers.
- Lead a class discussion that involves asking students to share their thoughts and insights on the process of writing a short story.
- Provide tips and suggestions for students who might want to further develop their creative writing skills, such as elective courses, student groups, local writers groups and other relevant information.
- Provide in-class time for students to complete a reflective writing activity about their short story writing experience.
Developing Young Writers
As an English instructor teaching a class that includes a creative writing component, it's important for you to help students develop their writing skills. Consider following up with a literary terms lesson plan. If you do, plan to incorporate this literary terms worksheet to help reinforce student learning.