So I decided to go over the five essential parts of a short story with them: plot, character, conflict, theme, and setting. There is a great rap from Flocabulary that talks about this that my students still remember a week later and can quote! Even though it was a bit lame, I haven't had one student roll their eyes too much at it and they even seem to imply with their body language that they actually learned something! (P.S. All of these ideas are also pinned to my Pinterest board if you'd like to see other similar ideas).
So we started off with the rap, and then I wanted to read the story with them. I had never read this story prior to my lesson preparation, so in my research I learned that knowing about the Cardiff Giant is useful so I found this website with a video podcast of the Giant. Just a warning with the video, fast forward the first minute because he goes on this rant about Obama and the birth certificate thing. We watched that video, and then read the story which has a great print-off on this same website.
After reading the story and discussing what made sense and what didn't, I had the students identify the five essential parts of a short story. This was great because there are easier parts like the setting and plot and even characters. But we talked about conflict and theme, which sets us up to dive deeper into those harder topics with future short stories.
The students seemed to enjoy the story. I was a little worried they wouldn't because it is not one of those "SCARY" stories, but it held their attention, it wasn't too long, and when asked had the decency to say it wasn't completely lame. Go Mark Twain, continuing to hold the minds of teenagers for a couple of pages.
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