The Guiding Question is a way for me to sneak in some revision without the students knowing it. I understand that revision can be quite painful for students, especially if we wait until the end--when a piece is almost complete. If we revise throughout, and the students know what I'll be looking for, it seems more authentic.
For the mini-lesson, my students read "The Bully" to themselves. When this occurs, if I have struggling readers in the class, I will pull them into a small group, or my collaborative teacher will pull them.
Afterward, I had a very brief, informal discussion about what makes a short story a short story. I wanted to clear up some myths about short stories that my student have begun to develop--like all short stories are like Ray Bradbury, or "Little Brother," or spooky, or science fiction-y.
By introducing them to this short story, I was able to show them that they can be realistic.
Here's a fun way to teach Shakespeare to students, then have them transfer their knowledge into their own short story starter.
This Story Starter prompt was adapted from SpringBoard, the worktext my district uses. The original lesson was called Changes in Simba's World and seemed like an afterthought. I really wanted to begin exposing my kids to Shakespeare, and though some good stories could derive from these prompts.
Students chose one of the prompts and have about 25 minutes to write as much of story with a plot that they can. I circulate and support those who might be stuck. For example, if a student is working on the prompt about the twins, I might give her the scenario that one of the twins was adopted to the President of the United States!
My job is fantastic when these kids are writing! I get to go around, read interesting stories, and add fun and creative twists to them.
By reading and discussing "The Bully," and discussing Shakespearean plots, it left little time for my students to draft their own versions. By using her reflection stems, a student shares her frustration at the lack of work time! Here's her response. I love that I have the kind of relationship with my students that they feel they can be honest with me.