Literacy Skills: Short Stories

LITERACY SKILLS are the key, transferable skills required to process, and understand the multitude of TEXTS we encounter every day.  From VISUAL to AUDITORY, from video games to novels, we rely on our skills to make meaning and ascertain messages.

Like all skills, they must be developed, honed, and practiced.  One of the best ways to INTRODUCE or REINFORCE these skills with your students in through the use of SHORT STORIES.  For that reason, a number of lessons have been developed for specific stories.

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What Are Literacy Skills?

For a primer on the TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS you should review the following articles:

 

What’s Included?

Each Lesson is fully explained and laid out in a WEB BASED format, that explains what PRIOR KNOWLEDGE is required, and what the NEXT STEPS should be.

MORE IMPORTANTLY each lesson comes with a FREE DOWNLOADABLE PDF of the lesson that is CLASSROOM-READY to be copied and handed to students for immediate use!

If you would like to SUPPORT ME you can choose to purchase the FULL PACKAGES of resources through my TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS account.  However, this is not necessary, and all individual assignments are completely FREE through this site.

 

How to Use These Lessons

You can introduce a class to one text, and have them work through all TEN assignments based on the specific text.  However, you may also find it more valuable to progress through the ten skills using a VARIETY of texts.  As each collection uses the same framework, and basic assignments, you will have no problem switching from one story to the next, so long as you MAINTAIN the order in which you tackle the TEN SKILLS.

 

The Short Stories

Below you will find links to the specific SHORT STORIES for which LITERACY SKILLS ASSIGNMENTS have been created.  Feel free to comment with recommendations for additional stories.

Charles, by Shirley Jackson – Lexile Level 760

  1. CHARLES: ANNOTATING
  2. CHARLES: DETERMINING IMPORTANCE
  3. CHARLES: SUMMARIZING
  4. CHARLES: VISUALIZING
  5. CHARLES: INFERRING
  6. CHARLES: QUESTIONING
  7. CHARLES: CONNECTING
  8. CHARLES: COMPARING
  9. CHARLES: PREDICTING
  10. CHARLES: SYNTHESIZING

Teaching Literacy Skills through Assignment Creation

The best way to demonstrate that you understand something is to explain it to someone else.  Allow students the opportunity to demonstrate that they understand a concept by flipping expectations and allow them to create assignments rather than complete them.

 

Introduction

This lesson focuses on having students READ A SHORT STORY and then break into small groups (I suggest four as a manageable number).  Each group will be assigned one of the TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS and work to create an assignment that will allow other students to demonstrate their mastery of that skill.

Required Foundation

Students must have already been introduced to the ten literacy skills.  I recommend using a one or two page short story before spending two days quickly running through each of the ten skills.  For more information on teaching the skills please refer to the LITERACY SKILLS – AN INTRODUCTION series.

Students will need to have read a SHORT STORY and be prepared to apply their Literacy Skill knowledge to the piece.

Required Materials

At least one student per group will require access to a device capable of using GOOGLE DOCs or MICROSOFT WORD.  While Microsoft Word is an effective tool, it is more beneficial if students use Google Docs.  That way they can SHARE their working assignment with each other, using multiple devices to co-author their piece at the same time.

 

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Assignment Creation Assignment:

Lesson Plan

This lesson plan will reinforce student knowledge of the ten key literacy skills, while also strengthening their knowledge of their group’s assigned skill.  By creating an assignment they will learn how to use digital HEADINGS to format and chunk their work, creating a framework of expectations for assignments their teachers create for them.  Students will also engage in METACOGNITIVE reflection, exploring why their choices were most effective.

 

Preparation

Desks must be arranged into groups of four.  A copy of Ten Key Literacy Skills.PDF  must be printed out and cut into ten slips (one per literacy skill).

 

Minds On

Desks will be prepared in groups of four when students walk into the classroom.  Each desk group will have one Literacy Skill slip (see preparation) on it.  One of the following images will be made available for students to see.

 

Students will be tasked with applying their specific skill to the image.  Each group should write a brief P.E.E. PARAGRAPH that supports their use of the group’s skill.

Students should then present their paragraph to the class, while explaining the importance of their assigned literacy skill.

 

Focus

Once students have a strong understanding of their specific skill, and have applied it to a visual image, they will be ready to begin the focus of this lesson.

This lesson can be run completely in the computer lab, or it can be split into two days – the first day for IDEATION and the second day for typing up and formatting their assignment.

Students will be instructed to take out their SHORT STORY from a previous class and consider how they could apply their Literacy Skill to that story.  They will have five minutes to plan and take brief notes as a group.

After some time has been given to consider the application of their skills, students will be handed a copy of Assignment Creation Assignment – Literacy Skills (No Example).PDF

Using that handout, students will see that rather than answering questions, and creating a traditional assignment, as they are used to, they will – instead – be the ones responsible for creating the assignment.

The various sections of a strong assignment are laid out of the sheet, and the specific headings that each title needs to be typed in are recorded.

Students will notice that they are creating an assignment in the same style and format as the one they have been handed.  The assignment itself is an exemplar.

Should you wish to offer an additional exemplar, student can be given the Strength through Synthesis – Working Through the Short Story.PDF assignment.

At this point, students are free to work on their creation.

 

Consolidation

Just before the end of class, each group will be asked to write down ONE question, concern, or problem that is hindering them in the completion of their assignment.  This will be handed to the teacher before they leave the classroom.

The teacher will then read through those slips, noting any difficulties students are having with this new style of task, and work to create resources or instructions for tomorrow’s class that will help students find success.

 

What’s Next?

Continue to learn about the best ways to TEACH THE KEY LITERACY SKILLS, or choose to focus on one of the following: Summarizing, Determining Importance, Inferring, Predicting, Connecting, Visualizing, Comparing, Questioning, Annotating, or Synthesizing.

 


Resources

Ten Key Literacy Skills.PDF

Assignment Creation Assignment – Literacy Skills (No Example).PDF

Strength through Synthesis – Working Through the Short Story.PDF