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Short Stories: The Path for the Reluctant Middle School Writer

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  1. Short Stories: The Path for the Reluctant Middle School Writer

  2. Acknowledgements • I would like to express my appreciation to Mrs. Barbara Hackenberry and the seventh grade students at Mount Nittany Middle School for their involvement in this inquiry.

  3. Meredith Sue Willis, author of Personal Fiction Writing: “Writing is in fact profoundly difficult; it is the making of a thing where there was no thing before--and making this thing not out of fabric or boards, but out of one’s own experience, knowledge, imagination, and understanding.”

  4. The Reluctant Middle School Writer Yikes!! My story’s got to: Be interesting to me, the writer Be interesting to you, the reader Contain all the story elements I’m learning Have the correct punctuation, capitalization, spelling, AND be in complete sentences. Yikes!!

  5. The Process Can Seem Overwhelming CONTENT Where do I start with story ideas? How are interesting characters created? Where will my story take place? What will my story say about me? Will it reflect my interests?

  6. The Process Can Seem Overwhelming MECHANICS What punctuation do I use to show a conversation between my characters? When is a new paragraph needed? Which words are capitalized? Is ‘I’ always capitalized?..Really?

  7. For some middle schoolers, fiction writing can be laborious and painful. Adults might compare these experiences to: • Dentistry • Being audited • Dealing with the DMV

  8. From pain to productivity…

  9. Generate Writing Interest Through Reading • Short stories lend themselves very well to the adolescent reader and writer because of the relatively short length of the genre, the highly relatable themes and the vivid characters. • Short stories present the elements of plot, character, setting, and theme in a style that appeals to middle school students.

  10. Because of the adolescents’ physical and cognitive development, their ability to focus on one task for extended periods is frequently jeopardized. Consequently, it is important for the instructor to choose high quality reading selections of relatively short length. The students’ ability to recall short story information from today or yesterday is far more acute than the ability to recall information from a novel that students have been reading for three to four weeks.

  11. Plot: Just the Facts, Ma’am

  12. Setting: A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away

  13. Theme: …The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall

  14. Although there are hundreds of quality short stories appropriate to middle school students, the highly relatable themes can be grouped into several categories. These include friendship, the value of loyalty, personal identity and choice, social identity, wanting to belong, good versus evil, and the effects of prejudice. These highly relatable themes appeal to the interest level and experiences of young adolescents.

  15. Character: Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

  16. In addition to the relatively short length of the genre and the highly relatable themes, quality short stories also portray vivid characters which hold tremendous appeal to the adolescent reader.

  17. The Final Product: A completed work of student-generated fiction, combining the learned literary elements and the mechanics of writing.PREWRITING

  18. The Final Product: A completed work of student-generated fiction, combining the learned literary elements and the mechanics of writing.WRITING

  19. The Final Product: A completed work of student-generated fiction, combining the learned literary elements and the mechanics of writing.REVISING

  20. The Final Product: A completed work of student-generated fiction, combining the learned literary elements and the mechanics of writing.EDITING

  21. The Final Product: A completed work of student-generated fiction, combining the learned literary elements and the mechanics of writing.PUBLISHING

  22. “My metaphor for teaching writing is not that I come into a room full of cold internal combustion engines and provide a spark that ignites them. Rather, I see myself walking in wonder among thirty barely contained chain reactions already in progress--each one flashing with personality and life experience, just waiting for a chance to inundate the room (the world!) with their energy. My job is to set up some power lines and give direction to the flow of energy.” --Meredith Sue Willis