UNIT PLAN: SHORT STORIES
by Alyson Schenker-Deerfield Beach High School
Analysis: 10th grade Language Arts class
Unit Connection to previous lessons: Students have just finished a unit on
formal essay writing in the connection to effective written communication.
Unit connection to future lessons: This unit will serve as a starting point in
studying and analyzing the next unit on the novel
Overall Objective: Understand the importance and impact of the elements of
plot in the context of an orally narrated story and how each story we tell has the
basic elements of plot.
Objective 1: Define the elements of plot: setting, rising action, climax,
Objective 2: Recognize these elements of plot in a oral story told by someone
Objective 3: Reiterate and explain these elements to the class in an effective
Objective 4: Recognize and explain the plot elements within a Sherlock Holmes
Our lives are made up of little stories, little episodes that we usually tell other
people about. What you did over the weekend, something exciting that happened
to you at practice, what happened when you when on a date, what you saw on
TV last night, etc. Think of a story you would or have told your friend. You would
start from the beginning, talk through the middle, and conclude with the end of
the story, right? It wouldn’t make sense if you started from the middle, talked
about the beginning then the end. Most authors of stories and novels tell stories
like we do. And just like the stories we tell our friends, their stories have a
beginning, middle, a high point, a low point, and a conclusion so the stories make
sense to the reader who is following along. These things are called "Elements of
MINI LESSON ON: definitions and examples of setting, rising action, climax,
denouement/falling action. Use of chart on overhead. Students will be required to
take notes on these elements.
*Plays, novels, and short stories have these elements within their stories.
Although it may not be obvious or in this exact order, these elements are present.
Q & A to check for understanding
EXERCISE: We’ll begin with a fun exercise so you can see my point. Let’s break
up into pairs, each person will take a turn to tell a short story about something
that has happened to him/her lately. The listener will jot down:
1. where the story is taking place (setting)
2. the events that began the story (rising action)
3. the high point of the story (climax)
4. the events leading to the conclusion (denouement)
Please list the elements and label them as you see here. These directions will be
placed on the overhead so you don’t forget the elements. You will have 20
minutes to complete the exercise, then each person will share the elements of
his/her partner’s story. Turn them in as you leave class
Advance Organizer: 3 minutes
Mini Lesson: 10 minutes.
Q & A: 5 minutes
CoOp Activity 15 minutes (7 1/2 min. per student story)
Group Sharing 12 minutes
Total 50 minutes
Assessment: Grades based on completion of assignment and oral presentation.
Students will have to recognize elements of plot on paper and rationalize their
choice during oration.
Homework: Have dittos prepared with Homework assignment so as not to waste
time. Pass out dittos to predetermined 4 groups and assign one Sherlock Holmes
story to each group to read:
"The Speckled Band" "The Dancing Men"
"A Scandal in Bohemia"
"(name of story assigned)"
While reading the story assigned to you, summarize the plot and jot down any
pertinent clues. Then, write down (in your own words) the 4 elements we talked
about today in class. Be prepared to discuss them tomorrow and hand in your
You will be graded based on grammar, content, and style.
Overall Objective: Understand and identify the plot elements and contextual
clues within the Sherlock Holmes story assigned
Objective 1: Reiterate the plot elements and summary to cooperative group
Objective 2: Explain to group members about each element and why your
identification of each element is correct.
Objective 3: Assess what is reiterated by cooperative group members to try to
solve the mystery presented
Objective 4: Understand the definitions of : antagonist, protagonist, and
catastrophe in the context of plot.
SPACE: Break class into four groups, with one member representing a different
Sherlock Holmes story. I will have desks prearranged with name tags when
students enter. This will give students a chance to work with students they have
not worked with as of late.
REVIEW: Student volunteers to reiterate the main points of yesterdays material
ACTIVITY: Using last night’s homework, each group member takes a turn
delineating his/her reading assignment’s setting, rising action, climax, and falling
action. HOWEVER, before orating the climax, give your group members hints
and a summation of the rising action and see if they can solve the mystery. You
will have 30 minutes and I will be available to you as I walk around the room.
MINI LESSON: Definitions and examples of:
HOMEWORK: Since you have used your keen observation to identify the
elements of plot in last night’s homework assignment, I want you to read the 3
stories you have not read and focus on this idea of keen observation, and how
Sherlock Holmes used this ability to solve even the toughest of mysteries. Pay
close attention to his conclusions about people and places using only his keen
eye. List stories on the board so students can copy in their notebooks.
Settling in: 3 minutes
Review: 5 minutes
Activity: 30 minutes
Mini-Lesson: 12 minutes
ASSESSMENT: Students’ will be graded on accuracy and grammar of their
written work and participation in their group activity.
Overall Objective: Appreciate the importance of keen observation and using
one’s imagination to understand the people and world.
Objective 1: Understand the differences between seeing and observing
Objective 2: Identify, within the context of the Sherlock Holmes stories, how an
effective observer operates.
Objective 3: Analyze the important personality differences between Holmes and
Watson and the reciprocity of their friendship
Objective 4: Synthesize a complete short story based on careful observation
deduce conclusions using the imagination about the person(s) observed.
Although we should never pass judgment on people based on their appearance,
we can see in Sherlock Holmes that you can deduce certain things about people
based on their observable characteristics. Even Holmes says, "It is a capital
mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to turn facts to
suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." Seeing, as Watson does, is
different from observing. Seeing only implicates a fleeting episode where no
thought is employed. Observing, on the other hand, causes us to have a direct
interaction with the world and the people in it. Observing and seeing are
comparable to the differences between living and existing -between hearing and
listening. Since all people have to live together on this earth, observing them will
help you know more about the world around you.
*If we didn’t pay attention to the world and the people in it, what would life be
1. According to Holmes, what are some of the characteristics of a keen
2. What are some of Holmes’ grounds for the conclusions he draws about the
people he meets?
3. If Watson, as mentioned in the story is not as keen of an observer as Holmes
is, what is his purpose in this partnership?
4. Why do you think the author chose Watson to narrate their mysteries? Why
not Holmes? Why not an outsider?
5. Why does Holmes’ like Watson’s company?
6. Do we find these kinds of friendships today?
7. What kind of personality differences are there between Holmes and Watson?
8. In "Silver Blaze" Holmes mentions "were the inspector but gifted with an
imagination he might rise to great heights in the profession." What does this
SUMMATION of the main points of the discussion. We have determined that a
keen observer deduces logical conclusions by using concrete facts and the
imagination is key in determining solutions and scenarios. In order to find things
out about the world and the people inhabiting it, we have to keep a close eye on
what is happening around us, as well as use our imagination to draw conclusions
and solutions to make our lives better.
HOMEWORK: Now I am going to present you with an activity that will help you
refine your observational skills as well as exercise your imagination. (Pass out
dittos with assignment details and go over them aloud)
-Go to the mall over the weekend and pick a cozy spot
- pick someone or some couple to watch
- Note the following in any system you choose. The easiest ways is to just jot
down notes in a numerical list
1. specific facial features and expression
2. hairstyle and color
4. clothing appearance: fit and style
5. hands: appearance and movement
6. description of figure
7. shoes: kind and appearance
8. packages (which store or note if none)
9. walk: describe
Then, review your observations THE SAME DAY while they are fresh in your
mind. Sherlock Holmes doesn’t wait until the last minute to review his findings,
you know. Compose a short story with your imagination based on the facts you
have gathered. I want a word processed grammatically correct stories; in
addition, within your story, please lightly mark in pencil, within the margin the
following plot elements:
catastrophe (if any)
Be sure, just as an experienced author, to think the elements through in the
context of your observations!!! We will share these stories on Monday, and I will
be using them to publish a class book for Open House, so your parents can see
the great work you compose.
ASSESMENT: Based on participation in group discussion
Overall Objective: Understand the plot elements from previous lessons in order
to narrate an original short story, identify plot elements and observations that
help create the story and identify and analyze these elements in classmates’
Objective 1: Analyze oral narration of short story for each plot element assigned
Objective 2: Communicate those elements and deduce reasons in an effective
ESTABLISHING SET: Go over protocol of presentation listed on the board.
Today, you are not students. You are authors who will present your stories to a
group of avid book readers that may challenge your ideas and identifications of
plot elements. Be prepared to speak as well as listen.
ACTIVITY: Students present stories in front of the class (sitting on a stool). As a
group, we will discuss the features of each observe that led the student to create
their story. Have student volunteers identify the plot elements and give their
opinions regarding each story. Explain protocol
Posted on blackboard:
Discuss the notes you took and the characteristics of the person you observed
Read your story out loud
Call on student volunteers to identify each plot element (one for each element). If
their identification differs with yours, listen carefully to their reasons and debate
fairly if necessary.
Take opinions of story from volunteers
Listen carefully to the story and its progression
Catastrophe (if any)
Volunteer to identify the plot elements and explain your choice. If your choice
does not agree with the author, listen to his/her reasons and debate fairly if need
Feedback about the story itself MUST BE FAIR. Communicate effectively with
words that would not be insulting or harsh.
WRAP UP: Get students to volunteer their opinion on the activities they were
assigned for this unit on short stories. Discuss their opinion on observation and
imagination, and how these two combined effect their lives.
ASSESMENT: Based on class participation, effective communication, and essay quality.