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Using short stories for teaching internal and external conflict - a field of grass sets the background of two blue signs with arrows pointing at each other

Teaching Internal and External Conflict Using These 5 Captivating Short Stories

Teaching internal and external conflict? Captivate your students with 5 short stories to deepen their understanding! With an already fascinating line-up of tips, texts, and tricks for teaching ELA concepts using short stories, I wanted to add 5 more that offer internal and external conflict examples. Teaching Internal and External Conflict with Short Stories All of these short stories are collected from CommonLit, which is free to sign-up for. The titles are hyperlinked to take you directly to the short stories, but some of them may require sign-in. “Lather & Nothing Else” by Hernando Téllez One-sentence summary from CommonLit:✨ “This short story takes place in Colombia, where a civil war is taking place between ordinary citizens and the military that controls the country.” Using to Teach Conflict:✨ The barber faces an INTERNAL conflict while shaving

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Use any of these 7 short texts for Immigrant Heritage Month in the class to honor and highlight immigration stories often left untold. Image of Muslim adults holding two small children on their laps smiling

Include 7 unforgettable short texts for Immigrant Heritage Month in the class this June

As a child of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, I understand the power of sharing (and listening to) immigration stories. So often, immigrant families have learned to live in fear and, therefore, in silence; as a result, their powerful voices and rich history don’t often find their way into mainstream curricula. That’s why I am encouraging you to incorporate any (or all) of these 7 short texts for Immigrant Heritage Month this June! In doing so, you can honor and highlight immigration stories often left untold and give space to help your students and their families feel seen and celebrated! Where do you START? Depending on your students, pose the questions below as an anticipatory entrance ticket. Then, you can have students research facts about Immigrant Heritage Month in the class or use the facts on

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Inclusive Literature for a Short Story Unit with a teacher helping 3 students

Guiding Students to Success in an Inclusive Short Story Unit for Secondary ELA

For the last five years, the first unit I teach is always a short story unit. Every year, I spend countless hours researching engaging, inclusive literature to include in my short story unit. Every year, without fail, I feel exhausted after having little success finding just the inclusive literature I am looking for.  That is–until I found the Inspiring & Inclusive Short Story Unit Ideas & Recommendations. This product is a living document that offers standards-aligned, categorized inclusive literature to guide and diversify your short story unit. What to expect in this resource? Forever Relevant All the inclusive literature suggestions for your short story unit exist forever on a living document! It gets updated with new short story suggestions, so all you need to do is bookmark the tab. It will always be there for

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ELA Texts & Resources for Honoring Native American Heritage Month

Looking for text recommendations and engaging resources that you can use during Native American Heritage Month (and year round!), look no further! How many Native American/First Nation voices are present in your curriculum or your classroom library? If you aren’t sure, I have a free tool that allows you to see what’s missing, representation-wise, from your classroom library. Indigenous stories aren’t just underrepresented in schools, they are vastly underrepresented in publishing as well. According to data compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only 1% of children’s books released in 2018 were written about Indigenous characters. That number deteriorated even further when we looked at how many books were written BY Indigenous authors. Even though there are hundreds of nations and tribal affiliations across Turtle Island – with a variety of diverse experiences, customs, and practices

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4 Short Stories to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

From sci-fi to fantasy to historical fiction, this list of short stories has something to interest every reader during Hispanic Heritage Month! Happy Hispanic Heritage month, y’all! I LOVE using short stories to help make a curriculum more diverse! Why? Because I think their length makes short stories uniquely helpful for helping students gain insight into new perspectives. A student could read several short stories in the same time as one novel, and being exposed to those different authors and different POVs helps emphasize the diversity within a culture or nationality. (If you are familiar with the amazing TED Talk “The Danger of A Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie you’ll know exactly the point I am making.) There isn’t one singular Latinx story or one universal Hispanic perspective, but many. But of course, there

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Best Short Stories to Teach American Lit - A photo of a library shelf filled with books, at the top of the image there is a white border with pink text that reads "New Short Stories for American Lit"

5 Best Short Stories to Teach American Lit

Change it up with these 5 NEW best short stories to teach American Lit in middle & high school ELA. Best of all? These 5 stories are all available online for FREE! Today I’m sharing five new short stories for middle and high school ELA, and more specifically, new short stories for teaching American Lit. You might notice that four out of five of these stories are written by women, and four out of five stories are also written by people of color. That’s not a coincidence. Too often, American Lit curriculums are populated by DWG’s (dead White guys), with only token representation of other communities. There is a time and place for the classics, to be sure, but many students will be more engaged by texts that are relevant and relatable to them. I

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5 Short Stories to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in Secondary ELA

May is AAPI Heritage Month, so to celebrate, here are 5 short stories that will help your students connect with and appreciate AAPI cultures. Danielle here, I’m so happy to share this guest post by Joan Sung, a writer, and educator. Follow her on IG @joansungwriter and check out her shiny new website! Joan has some great short story recommendations for celebrating AAPI Heritage Month in your classroom, and I have some tips for how to make sure your curriculum is inclusive, year-round. Maybe you’re already working toward creating an inclusive classroom library, here’s a free tool to find any representation gaps in the collection. You can also check out my always-growing, mega list of diverse texts for Secondary ELA. Okay, that’s enough from me, enjoy Joan’s post: 5 Short Stories to Celebrate AAPI Heritage

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An image of a stack of books, with a pair of glasses on top. There are two small succulent plants, one to the right of the books and one on top of the books. At the top of the image there is pink text reading "Teaching with Short Stories and Texts"

Teaching ELA Concepts with Short Stories

Need inspiration? This post has all of my tips and tricks for teaching ELA concepts like characterization, setting, symbolism, and much more! Over the past year, I’ve been working on a series of posts dedicated to teaching ELA concepts with short stories. Since the first post is from January 2021, I decided to assemble all nine of them in one convenient place, for easy reading and bookmarking 🙂 Teaching ELA Concepts with Short Stories Teaching Symbolism with Short Stories This post also contains a FREE resource for teaching symbolism that your students will love 🙂 Teaching Setting with Short Stories From a futuristic hospital to the inside of a ’67 Chevy Impala, to the planet Venus, this wide variety of settings will help keep students engaged. Teaching Figurative Language with Short Stories This post covers

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Teaching Lamb to the Slaughter

Looking for new ways to use this classic short story? I’m sharing tips and activities I’ve learned while teaching Lamb to the Slaughter. Usually, I’m all about finding contemporary short stories to teach in middle and high school. However, one classic short story my students adore is Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter.”  In Lamb to the Slaughter, Mrs. Maloney is a pregnant housewife whose husband announces he wants a divorce. In a stupor, she gets a frozen leg of lamb out of the freezer for their dinner, but ends up bashing him over the head with it. The police come to investigate and she plays innocent. Then, she insists they stay for dinner (it’s lamb!).  Lamb to the Slaughter pre-reading activities One of my students’ favorite activities of the year is the pre-reading activity

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Comprehensive Short Story Ideas for English Class

All my favorite short story ideas for English class – teaching tips, story recommendations, timesaving resources, and much more! I’ve thought a lot about teaching short stories over the years. I’ve designed and redesigned my short story unit, I’m always on the hunt for the latest and greatest short story anthology, and I’m constantly striving to make sure that I’m including not just one perspective, but a chorus of voices. I think that by having a wide range of contemporary short stories, embracing alternative media (like songs and film), and giving students the tools to embrace their own creativity, you can make short stories relevant, engaging, and memorable for your students. I tried to make sure that this post has short story ideas for English class that every ELA teacher can use, but if you

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Teaching Suspense & Pacing with Short Stories

These 5 short texts for teaching suspense and pacing will help make your lessons on literary elements less daunting and more memorable! While they’re both fundamental elements of storytelling, students will often struggle with identifying elements of suspense, or examples of pacing in a specific work. As you may have noticed, I love using short stories and other short texts when teaching literary elements! I find that using shorter texts can make a new concept easier to digest for students, and they’re also perfect for reviewing multiple elements in a short amount of time. Note: A big difference in teaching suspense in middle school as opposed to high school is how graphic or frightening your content can be. This post features example texts for teaching suspense that aren’t overly scary. You can find many more

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Inclusive Short Horror Stories for Teens

Here are five short horror stories to share with your students! If you’re looking for some seriously psychological stuff, this is it. These short horror stories for teenagers are fantastic stories in general, and also great model texts for writing horror fiction. Inclusive Short Horror Stories “The Flowers” by Alice Walker (MS/HS) This is a coming-of-age story about a young Black girl named Myop. While picking flowers and blissfully exploring the woods around her home, she uncovers chilling evidence of a lynching. Since this story broaches a heavy topic, I wouldn’t use this short story without being prepared to engage in a larger discussion of racially motivated violence and the history of lynching in America.  Summer as a symbol for youthful innocence is a well trod literary path, but this is an especially effective example.

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Teaching Metaphors with Short Texts

Teaching metaphors with short texts is a great way to make your literary lessons more approachable & engaging. Here are five of my favorites! Teaching metaphor is like, um, hm, if only there was some way to describe it 😉 Even if your students can’t tell an allusion from a simile, I’m here to help with this blog series on teaching literary elements. This week, my focus is teaching metaphors with short texts. I’ll be shouting out some great texts and giving teaching tips to go along with them. What are you waiting for? Let’s dive right into it! How to teach similes and metaphors As English teachers, we often approach teaching metaphor as a contrast to simile – “a comparison using ‘like’ or ‘as’.” I like to expand this approach to focus on simile

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A photo of a brick walled room with antique looking barrels and wooden tables. There is a white border at the top with the pink text "Teaching Setting with Short Stories"

Using Short Stories to Teach Setting

I love using short stories to teach setting! Shorter texts are more approachable to students, and allow you to provide more examples. Short Stories to Teach Setting Setting is one of the earliest literary elements we understand as readers, since we know the difference between the feel of a creepy house in the woods and the warmth of Grandma’s house. Using short stories to teach setting is a great way to move those reading instincts into honed reading skills. Here are two short stories to teach setting that I love: “No Me Dejas” by Mark Oshiro, found on Slate.com  This story takes place inside a futuristic hospital. Our unnamed protagonist is preparing for “the Transfer,” a procedure which will allow him to receive all of his dying grandmother’s memories. During the procedure, he experiences a

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A background of rainbow colored roses with overlayed text reading LGBTQ+ Short Texts for Secondary ELA

Short Texts by LGBTQ+ Authors for Secondary ELA

Make your classroom more inclusive all year long by using these short texts by LGBTQ+ authors for Secondary ELA. These LGBTQ short stories and texts can be used to teach a variety of skills and concepts in your middle or high school class to enrich your young readers. Are you having a hard time increasing the representation in your Secondary ELA curriculum? You do not have to wait until October (LGBTQ+ History Month) or June (Pride month) to have a good reason to represent LGBTQ+ voices. Here are short story collections by LGBTQ+ authors that you can use year-round and connect to topics and skills you’re already teaching. Short Texts by LGBTQ+ Authors for Secondary ELA “At Seventeen” (song) Janis Ian This song gives students a great chance to analyze the author’s purpose and meaning.

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New Short Stories for Middle School

No dusty old classics here! There are my favoite new short stories for middle school, and some non-traditional texts to engage and inspire. Are you struggling to get your students excited about reading? Do even your most engaged students zone out when you bring out the reading list of “classics”? Sometimes all students need is a fresh story. Something that feels relevant to them and their peers. We can revitalize our content, without sacrificing our standards. And I’m here to help! Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite new short stories of middle school and ideas for how to use them, but if you want this type of content for high schoolers, I’ve got you covered too 🙂 Modern Short Stories for Middle School: Short Story: “How to Be Chinese” by Celeste Ng

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Teaching Social Justice with Short Stories in Middle School

Short stories are great ways to tackle big issues in easy-to-digest lessons! Here are my tips for teaching social justice with short stories. Short stories can be great foundational texts for conversations about social justice and current events. (More about incorporating current events in the classroom here.) Because they’re short, they can act as common reading before students work on discussion and research. Also, teaching social justice with short stories can help students connect those stories to nonfiction texts like essays and news articles. They can hone in on the relationship between literature, politics, and “the real world.” This makes literature more relevant. And it’s always easier to talk about big issues through the lens of fictional characters. Besides suggestions for contemporary short stories, I’ve added other texts that fit this bill. Giving students a

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Teaching Symbolism with 3 Short Stories

Do your students struggle to identify instances of symbolism in a text? Yeah, mine too. So today I am sharing some contemporary short stories, plus additional resources, to help you plan a unit on symbolism that is both compelling and memorable. Teaching symbolism with short stories helps students practice their analytical skills. The first way I found to engage my students was to bribe, uh, I mean, reward them with candy. Candy was the perfect way to help my students finally get symbolism. But the biggest positive change I made when teaching symbolism with short stories was to revamp the texts themselves. I was getting burned out on using the same old stories. (And teachers, if you’re getting bored, you can bet your students are too.) Plus, “Masque of the Red Death” and “The Pearl” (a

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Contemporary Short Stories for High School

Struggling to engage your reluctant readers? Check out these contemporary short stories for high school ELA. Are you excited to teach short stories, or does the thought of revisiting “The Lottery” and “The Lady of the Tiger” fill you with intense boredom? Well, if you are tired of using the same old dead White guys, I promise your students are tired of reading them. But don’t despair! There are tons of interesting contemporary YA short stories for high schoolers that you can use instead of (or alongside) the classics. Today I’m going to share a few of my favorites.   Contemporary Short Stories for High School:   Puro Amor by Sandra Cisneros Students may already be familiar with Cisneros’ work from her 1984 novel, The House On Mango Street. And you can expect more lush

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Teaching Irony with Short Stories

Are you looking to revitalize your short story unit? Are your students just not getting irony? I’m here to help! Here are 5 fresh texts for teaching irony with short stories. Sure, “Gift of the Magi” and “The Lottery” are classics for teaching irony, but they offer little in the way of inclusive representation. There is nothing wrong with these stories, but we can serve our students better by including a wider selection of voices and identities. I’m not asking you to stop teaching “The Lottery” or “Gift of the Magi”, but encouraging you to add some more inclusive short stories and supporting materials to your curriculum. Many teachers are working to diversify their curriculum to include more voices. I’ve been working with Dr. Sheila Frye (from Teaching Literacy) on a project called “Rethinking the

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Here are some of my favorite resources and ideas for teaching short stories in middle school and high school. Teaching short stories can be a great way to build student confidence and endurance with a number of skills. These texts span all genres and are hugely versatile – teach them as a unit or woven in with other texts throughout the year. (blog post)

Teaching Short Stories: Innovate & Engage

You gingerly lift a new arrival off the shelf and flip it open, trailing your finger across the printed page. You imagine yourself sipping an espresso as you thumb through the pages, savoring every plot point and befriending new characters. …and then someone hands you a worksheet. Did the bookstore fantasy crash down around you? Yeah, I thought so. If we really want to help students love reading, we need to stop crushing them with comprehension worksheets. There’s a time and a place for those, sure, but we can think of more innovative ways to ignite a love of reading. (Note: This post does not contain affiliate links. I trust these bloggers and collaborate with them regularly. This post does contain a few links to my products on TeachersPayTeachers.) Teaching Short Stories Teaching short stories

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I finally nailed teaching symbolism to my students! Using candy was both efficient and engaging, and they kept referencing this lesson for the rest of the year. This strong foundation really helped their literary analysis skills. TeachNouvelle.com

Teaching Symbolism with Candy

I have been reflecting on my favorite lessons from the school year, and one of the most fun and effective was teaching symbolism with Tootsie Roll Pops! Not only were the students enthusiastic about eating the candy (because aren’t they always?), they really grasped the concept of analyzing a symbol. We were nearing Halloween and deep in our Short Stories unit, and I planned for my 9th graders to read “Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe. They had already told me in their journals that they didn’t “get” symbolism.  I wanted to help them learn to take apart symbols and analyze them based on concrete details before adding in the abstract traits and drawing a conclusion. Basically, I wanted to help them break down symbols and realize that there was a lot

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