Poem A Day:

Today, there is no poem a day.

Take a moment to feel sad feelings about that.



There is just no time. #endofthequarter #thattimeofyear


Objective: Students will put their storytelling techniques to the test!

Today, I remind students of their readers. Writing is not meant to be read by only teachers! Writing is about communicating an idea or feeling, or whatever, and communication is two-sided. There is not just the expression. There is the interpretation.


Active Engagement:

Students are going to work in small groups of 2-3. They will follow the directions in this Google Doc which is posted on Google Classroom. One writer will share their story with the other writers in the group. Once they finish reading it, the readers will discuss the story and attempt to identify the theme of the story, and the narrative techniques used. During this whole process, the writer of the story being discussed, cannot speak.

The writer of the story will have trouble staying silent. They will want to jump in, and interject their intentions or ideas. But here is the kick- we cannot talk to our readers after we publish our work. Writers need to be sure that their work can speak for itself.

They should jot down any things they wanted to say during the process and use these notes to REVISE their stories.


Once finished with the activity, students can continue revising their short stories in class. All students must have a completed final draft of their stories by next class: Friday 11/3 for B Days and Monday 11/6 for A days. I also handed out this rubric for narrative writing grades 9-10. This is what I will use to assess their narratives.

Side Note: So many of my students this year are so into this unit, that they are producing stories that are 5, 6, 9, 16 etc pages long! I think this is a testament to the success of the unit design 😉 Happy and proud Minto.





Poem A Day:


Today’s Poem a day is “Somebody that I used to Know” by Gotye. In this song, a break-up is depicted through dialogue. The first speaker pours his heart out about the break up, blaming it all on the woman. In the second part of the song, the woman has a chance to retort. Her side of the story changes the whole narrative for the listener.


Objective: Students will understand how to reveal details and develop characters, conflict and plot lines through use of dialogue.

Today’s lesson is all about incorporating dialogue into our short stories. Students should have a rough draft of their short story today.

We will discuss how the dialogue in our poem a day helped to develop the characters and the storyline.

Next, I will read the model short story that I wrote for this unit and show students how to incorporate dialogue to reveal more details, multiple perspectives, and to develop my characters. Students typically enjoy revising my work lol. Their own, not so much….

We will also discuss formatting of dialogue- students forget 😉

Active Engagement:

That said, students are going to practice using dialogue by incorporating it into their drafts in order to help move the story forward, or to reveal details, or to develop characters or conflict.


I reminded students that we will continue revising our short stories in our next class. All students must have a completed draft of their stories by next class: Wednesday 11/1 for B Days and Thursday 11/2 for A days. I also handed out this rubric for narrative writing grades 9-10. This is what I will use to assess their narratives. It is very much like the rubric we used for the “Themes in Short Stories” essay, so students are familiar with the format and language.



Poem A Day:


This is a cool song for today’s lesson as we are going to begin writing our own stories today. The lyrics begin:

Imagine your brain as a

Canister filled with ink

Yeah, now think of your body

As the pen where the ink resides

Fuse the two; KAPOW!

What are you now?

You’re the human magic marker, won’t you

Please surprise my eyes?

I am going to use a doc cam today to mark up the lyrics as we listen and project it onto the smart board- just to remind students of different ways to engage with the poems every day.


Objective: Each student will begin drafting a short story which develops a theme of their choice through use of various narrative techniques.

Today we watched a wonderful TED talk about storytelling.

I asked students to take notes on the various clues to great storytelling the speaker discussed. This was the list that students shared out at the end of the talk:

  1. Use what you know and draw from your experiences- speak your truth.
  2. Invoke wonder which is pure and innocent
  3. Make your audience work for their meal; give them 2+2 instead of 4
  4. Make the reader/audience care emotionally, intellectually and aesthetically
  5. Understand that storytelling has guidelines, not hard-fast rules. You can break the rules and create something fresh and original- don’t get boxed in.
  6. Make a promise at the beginning that drives your story and lets the audience know the payoff is worth their time
  7. A consistent and strong theme- runs through a well-told story
  8. Give the characters goals- a spine- a motor- that drives their decisions
  9. Make your character flawed but still likable.

Active Engagement:

Students have now made a list of themes they might develop in their short story. Next, I asked students to think about which narrative techniques they would like to practice.

We looked at Student Facing Checklists for Narrative Writing and students chose 1-3 goals (depending on the level of the course, or their preference).

Students filled out this Story Planning Sheet as well- Finish for Homework. 


I reminded students that we would begin writing in the next class- For homework, in addition to finishing the Story Planning Sheet-– I asked students to be observant. To watch and listen. So often we are caught up in our own worlds, our own minds, our own experiences. I asked them to sit back and switch roles. Look around them, watch people, listen to them. Pay attention to the subtleties of their movements and facial expressions. When a writer is preparing to write, you never know where you will find inspiration, and noticing these tiny details, can help you to incorporate relevant and interesting details and dialogue in your stories.

I also revealed the prompt for their short story-

Students will write an original short story that develops a theme through use of narrative techniques.

At this point it has become clear to me that I have done my job- Students were not surprised to see the prompt, and they fully understood it. Huzzah!!



Welcome to Part Two of the Short Story Unit. This is where we transfer and apply skills we learned about in Part One of the unit.

So far this year, we have reviewed narrative techniques and literary devices. We closely read and analyzed multiple short stories, songs and poems looking for ways writers develop and convey themes through their storytelling. We communicated our findings through writing and revising essays.

Now, students will apply what they learned about using narrative techniques to develop themes by writing their own original short story.

Poem A Day:

 One thing in my class that I love to emphasize is that humans tell stories in all sorts of ways, and we always have. Creating narratives is a way our brains make sense of the chaotic world of sensation around us. We don’t just write novels. We sing. We dance. We paint. We sculpt. We build. We create entire civilizations rich with complexity.

Today’s poem a day is special. It tells the story of a life. Of all lives, really. Through lyrics and dance. This is a cool one in particular as this dance features two former students, and probably a few future ones too!


As per the usual, I will ask students to identify the theme, and how they knew (evidence from the text). I think the theme is to live in a way so you aren’t lonely.


Objective: Students will develop a message they are passionate about that they want to share with the world in order to create an authentic goal for their short story.So often, students do not see the purpose in writing, unless it is “because the teacher told them to.” In these situations, students don’t really want to share what they write, because they didn’t write it for any audience. Today. we are going to talk about the different purposes of communicating, and we are going to explore a lot of different strategies for coming up with story ideas.In the first part of our unit, we focussed a lot on finding “Themes”. These are universal messages or experiences that we can all relate to and empathize with. We asked ourselves, “what does this author believe about humanity? or life? or what does he want me to learn or think about?”Today, we become the writers. So we will think about what WE believe about humanity, or life. What we want others to learn about or think about.Students are going to brainstorm in their notebooks for a few minutes when I ask them these questions.

Active Engagement:

Once students have identified a few ideas for issues or ideas they want to explore with their stories, we will begin to think about what kind of story we could tell. In order to help students do this, I am going to walk them through a few different strategies for generating ideas.First, I like to talk about how writer’s write what they know. So the first strategy asks students to think about people and moments in their life that can lead to meaningful and entertaining stories. We make a three column list: people, moments and issues. I model for students by filling in the list myself. I write a name down for people- like my best friend in 8th grade, Amanda. Then I tell stories about her- moments we shared. Then I try to tie those moments to bigger issues- or themes that other readers can relate to or learn from.Students engage in the strategy in their notebooks.Next, I will model a strategy called “mapping”. This is a good one for students who are more visual thinkers. You draw a map of places you have been that evoke vivid memories which can build great stories.Students engage in this strategy and have fun with it.


I will remind students that we have two goals to accomplish with the narratives we are about to write:

1.) To convey a meaningful and relevant theme

2.) To use multiple narrative techniques to convey that theme.

This week, we will focus on themes. Next week, we will work with narrative techniques.

Homework tonight (10/18 B day, 10/19 A day): Choose 3-5 themes you may want to convey in your story. Write them in your notebook and bring to our next class.




SHORTS P1 Day 12

Poem A Day:

Today students were asked to guess why I chose this song, and to identify the theme. Students were able to guess that I picked it because it has the same theme as the essay I wrote. Then I gave them an extra credit opportunity: to choose a song or poem that has the same theme as their essay, and submit the song with their final draft of their essay on Wednesday (B day) or Thursday (A day).


Objective: Students will use the rubric to score and assess a peer’s essay so they better understand the rubric, give and receive feedback on their own draft, and gain exposure to more exemplars.

Active Engagement:

Students worked in pairs to revise their theme essay drafts one last time before they are due. They filled out this doc which got them to engage deeper with the rubric, and to engage with an essay of their peer’s. It was helpful for them to get perspective from a reader who isn’t them or me.


Students will revise their work (10/16 for B day and 10/17 for A day). Final drafts of essays are due Wednesday 10/18 for B3 and B4, and on Thursday 10/19 for A1 and A2.

SHORTS P1 Day 11

Poem A Day:

Why not have a bunch of poems this week about oranges? Easy theme. Kids have to make inferences and defend them with evidence. What a sweet and lovely poem.


Objective: Students will analyze revisions in a model text so they understand the importance of revision in the writing process.

Today I will discuss why revision is so important to the writing process (there is not one correct way to express your ideas, you should play with the words, and the organization, and try new things before settling). I will model for them my revision process by reading/showing on the smart board my second draft of my essay.

Active Engagement:

Students will work in pairs to compare the first draft of my Fear the Walking Dead essay to the second draft of my Fear the Walking Dead essay in which I have highlighted all of my changes with red text. They will answer the questions at the bottom of the page designed to help them think about how well they develop their own ideas in their essays with textual support.


Students will revise their work (10/12 for B day and 10/13 for A day). Second drafts of essays are due Monday 10/16 for B3 and B4, and on 10/17 for A1 and A2.

SHORTS P1 Day 10

Poem A Day:

This song is wonderful and has a clear theme. The theme ties into the paper that I am writing as a model text for the students about an episode of Fear the Walking Dead.


Objective: Students will analyze strategies writers use to develop themes so they can deliver a theme through writing an original narrative.

Today students will look at the anchor charts their peers made for the rubric.

Next, students will read over an exemplar I wrote about Fear the Walking Dead using class notes and use a rubric to score it. The rubric is the same rubric they worked with in our last class, and is also the same rubric I will use to score all expository writing this year.

Students will work in pairs to score my rough piece, and then as a whole group we will discuss revisions I could make.

Active Engagement:

Students will use the rubric to score their own piece and work on revision of their own pieces in A1 and A2. In B3 and B4, students will continue to write their rough drafts.


Students in B3 and B4 will continue to work on their rough drafts which are due next class 10/12 and A1A2 Rough drafts are due for this lesson on 10/13.