Clip Art Of A Book


Elements Of A Short Story

Mrs. Peake - Memorial Middle School - Beverly, MA

Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5 Lesson 6

Unit Overview

This six-lesson unit is designed to teach students to understand and identify the elements of the short story.  The unit takes into account student readiness by differentiating student output according to capabilities and allows for some individual choice in story topics. Students at all levels will complete and present written work demonstrating their thorough understanding of story elements. Assessment is both informal and formal according to a student and teacher scored rubric.

Essential Question

„What are the elements of a short story?š

Language Arts Curriculum Frameworks Connection

Literature Strand

Students will identify analyze, and apply knowledge of the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding.

5-8 Standard

Students will be able to locate and analyze elements of plot and characterization and then use an understanding of these elements to compose a short essay on how the qualities of the central characters determine the resolution of the conflict.


Copy of „The Cat in the Hatš by Dr. Seuss

Copy of „The Cat in the Hat Comes Backš by Dr. Seuss

Classroom set of Prentice Hall Literature, Copper edition.

Library cart loaded with short stories from many disciplines

Overhead transparencies of Plot Line, Descriptions of „Exposition, Rising Action,

Climax, Falling Action, Resolution.

Overheads explaining literary conflict:  Person vs. Nature, Person vs. Society, Person vs. Self, and Person vs. Fate.

Student worksheets for transparencies above.


Story elements are introduced by reading and mapping the children‚s classics „The Cat in the Hatš and „The Cat in the Hat Comes Backš 


Lesson One

Explanation of concept - teacher directed (15 minutes)

Begin by asking students to recall some for their favorite stories from early childhood.  Lead discussion until someone mentions Dr. Seuss.  Hold up copy of „The Cat in the Hatš ask if anyone remembers the book.  Ask if anyone can remember some of the things that happen in the story.  List each named action on the board.  Circle the beginning action if mentioned Ų otherwise mention it and describe it as the  „Exposition.š  Number events mentioned in order. Introduce the term „Rising Actionš to describe the series of events that occur in a story.  Read section when the fish sees the mother on her way home aloud. Introduce literary term „Climax.š Read subsequent „clean-upš falling action by the cat and introduce „Falling Actionš term.  Read remainder of story and introduce literary term„Resolution.š

Hand out blank copies of Elements Chart. Turn on overhead and fill-out chart together for „The Cat in the Hat.š Address any questions.

          Understanding of concept - student practice: (15 minutes)

1.       Students turn over worksheet to new blank side. 

2.     Teacher reads „The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.š

3.     Students fill out the story elements chart themselves then exchange with a partner to discuss. 

4.     Teacher walks around room listening to conversations, offering assistance and encouragement.


Demonstrating understandingŲ closure: teacher directed (10 minutes)

1.       Teacher brings group back to order.

2.     Teacher uses blank overhead to solicit student responses to fill in chart.

3.     Students self-correct their charts. 

4.     Teacher asks different students to explain the meaning of Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. 

5.     Teacher collects filled-out worksheets.

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Lesson Two

Application of concept to grade appropriate literature Ų Exposition and Rising Action (20 minutes)

1. Hand back previous lesson‚s worksheets along with a blank copy.

2. Ask a student to summarize what they remember from the first lesson about story elements. 

3. Explain that we will be reading a short story together and applying what we have learned. 

          4. Hand out Prentice Hall Literature books. Begin reading „Dragon, Dragonš by John Gardner, page 15. 

          5. Discuss vocabulary words in context (page 14). Read aloud/shared read-aloud through page 20.

Application of concept Ų Student practice (15 minutes)

1. Students work in pairs and/or small groups to discuss and identify „Exposition and initial „Rising Action.š

2. Students fill out their charts.

3. Teacher walks around to groups offering insight, encouragement and assistance.

Closure (5 minutes)

1.Teacher leads brief discussion on Exposition.

2.Students provide information to fill out „Expositionš section of chart on overhead.

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Lesson Three

     Application of Concept, continued Ų Previous lesson review (5-10 minutes)

        1. Teacher reviews „Exposition.š 2.

        2. Teacher leads discussion of „Rising Actionš.

        3. Rising actions to page 20 are discussed and placed on overhead chart.

        4. Student questions encouraged and answered.


Application of Concept, continued Ų Student reading/writing (30 minutes)

1. Students continue reading story in partners/small cooperative groups.

2. Students discuss remaining rising actions, climax and resolution.

3. Students complete their individual „story elementsš charts.

5.     Teacher walks around, overseeing work in progress.

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Lesson Four 

Individual Student Differentiated Application of Concept (40 minutes class time + Homework)

         1. Students choose individual short stories from a „readiness differentiatedš story collection. Students are
            encouraged by teacher to select appropriate story for their individual reading level.

2. Students read their selections in class.

3. Teacher circulates around room checking comprehension and understanding.

          4. Students who have completed their reading begin filling out their „Story Elementsš

           worksheet and selecting a culminating project with teacher‚s approval.

          5. Students not finishing their reading must complete for homework.

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Lesson Five

Continuation of Individual Student Differentiated Application of Concept

1. Students complete their „Story Elementsš worksheet and select a culminating project in consultation with teacher.

A.    Projects include 1. a story elements poster with short write-up 2. a written extension of their story including all elements of plot and two rising actions, or 3, an original story of their own based on the plot line of the story of their choice.  Projects will be graded based on the attached rubrics.

B.     All projects must include a 3-5 minute reading or presentation to the class, which will be graded according to the attached „Oral Presentation Rubricš

All assessments seek to determine if students can identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding.

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Lesson Six

Student Project Presentation and Self-Assessment

1.       Students will present their projects to the class.

2.     Students will think about their presentation and project and self assess using a teacher-generated rubric.

3.     Teacher will grade using the same rubric. Student grade will reflect a combination of student and teacher assessment.  Student and teacher will conference as needed if assessments are vastly different.  

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© 2003 K. Peake