Poem A Day:

Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” Stanza 1

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Today’s objective is to define the short story genre. One takeaway is that short stories are narratives that convey or revolve around a theme. Writers of short stories use narrative techniques to deliver their theme, entertain the reader, or make them think.

We began by reading aloud as a class Steven Millhauser called “The Ambition of the Short Story.” It is wonderful and full of literary devices and figurative language. I love it- it is a wonderful resource to kick off a unit about literary devices in short stories.

Active Engagement:

As a group we discussed the article, and then brainstormed literary devices that authors use to impact readers. This was a way of checking their prior knowledge, and getting on the same page, speaking the same academic language- very useful at the beginning of the year. I used the list my classes came up with to create this study guide for a quiz on literary devices. I wanted students to know that we would be using all of these terms all year, and that I was not going to bother defining them over and over- they needed to commit them to memory. I reinforced this by using the poems a day throughout the unit to show examples of each literary device- we ended up having a real interesting time with paradoxes which I will detail later.

Next we read “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst and searched for literary devices he used. Students worked independently annotating the text while I read aloud to the whole group.


Students worked in pairs to share the devices they found and discuss possible themes.


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