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By Amy Restivo Thomson
This is an approximately a seven week fiction unit intended for 9th grade regular English with daily fifty minute classes. It is partially based on the Glencoe Literature Texas Treasures Course 4 textbook.
The new STAAR exam begins next school year, and my students will be in the first class to take the exam. So, I wanted to create a unit that would help them practice the writing they would have on the exam without being writing exercises straight from the textbook.
In this unit I integrate reading, analyzing, and writing short stories with learning and analyzing literary terms and elements in the hope that they will reinforce each other and bolster student skill and understanding. The unit begins with learning Fretag’s Pyramid as a tool to analyze plot structure, and moves into reading and analyzing fictional short stories. I use some stories from our text that are required, but have also included some outside of the text to show different authors, perspectives, and themes.
After studying several stories and literary terms and elements from the perspective of the reader, students continue to make their own meaning by writing an expository essay analyzing The Cask of Amontillado. This also serves as a first practice in expository writing, which is one genre of writing they will encounter on the STAAR test.
Once that first major piece of writing is completed, they continue studying short stories, but from the perspective of a writer. This helps them acquire knowledge and create meaning that they will need for their final performance task of writing their own short story which incorporates literary terms and elements. This is the second type of writing they will encounter on the STAAR exam.
After this unit is done, students should come away with understandings about the value of short stories and literary elements as well as increased knowledge and skill in crafting literary and expository writing.
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