Brainstorming ideas for Horror/Thriller Stories

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SWBAT introduced to the horror/thriller genre by making a “trailer” or their story.

Big Idea

Don't you dare say anything negative about Beyonce!

Lesson Opener

10 minutes

In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling, I use three categories; skill, strategy, and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.

Connect:  I will say, “We have been reading stories all year of different genres, now it is time to create our own! In this unit we will write rough draft stories in the horror/thriller genre, historical fiction and fantasy genre. Today, we start horror/ thriller writing!” I will show the below definitions (the best ones I could find were on yahoo answers).  

In Horror, the aim is to incite feelings of fear and/or revulsion and there is usually some element of the supernatural.

In Thrillers, the aim is to excite the viewers with suspense and action (usually dangerous action, eg crime, espionage), usually with a climatic ending.

Suspense is vital to all genres. Suspense is that desire to know what is going to happen next. It can hold you on the edge of your seat or grip your heartstrings.

Teach: I will say, “In order to brainstorm ideas for horror/thriller stories, I am going to show you how to practice the skill generating ideas using past brainstorms and the strategy of making a “movie trailer” of one of your ideas. The process I will use is as follows:

1) Brainstorm as a whole class, “What do we know about horror/thriller stories so far?”  

2) Use our past brainstorming about people/places and things and ask ourselves, “What if?”

3) Watch an example of a made-up movie trailer in order to create our own.”

The below video explains this process. Under this video is the made-up movie trailer, “The Beyency.” 

Active Engagement

5 minutes

Active Engagement: I will say (before we watch the Beyency), “Use your past brainstorming and ask yourself, “What if?” You may work with a partner.” I will listen in to students conversations (at least 3 students-one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard).

I will then show students “The Beyency” and jot down the sentence starters I hear in the trailer. I will then show students my example of my trailer (explained in the above video).

Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember successful writers practice the skill of trying out a new genre by using the strategy of using past brainstorms. The process they use is to review what they know already about the genre, see an example of a summary of a made-up story, try out their own summary about their own story but make it an exciting summary by creating a “movie trailer.” 

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Independent Practice:. I will say, “Now you are going to write your own movie trailer using the sentence starters and what you already know about writing summaries. If you get done with one movie trailer, write another one of a different idea.”  I will walk around and confer with students using Possible Conferences for Crafting a Movie Trailer.

Partner Work: Students will be directed to turn and share their trailer with their partner. I will say, “I want you to share your trailer with a partner. “Decide who will be partner A and who will be partner B. Partner A I want you to share your trailer. Partner B, I want you to listen if Partner A has written a movie trailer that really makes you want to read their future story just like watching a good movie trailer makes you want to see a movie. If not, give them feedback; tell them an idea of what they could add or let them know why you would want to read their future story. Then you will switch.” I will then give students time to revise, or have them make notes and revise for homework.


5 minutes

I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an exit ticket in which students write down the response to a question.


Students will be directed to jot down their best line in their movie trailer.