Do you know why I love creating curricula and teaching classic literature? First, the stories are a lot of just good stories out there. I mean, they’ve lasted so long for a reason. Plus many modern stories, movies, comics, and even video games are based on old stories or make allusions to characters, you just have to realize it. If a modern creative brain is looking for inspiration, many of the smart ones look to stories from the past.
However, it is more than just this. Studying classic short stories can help students in many different ways. I call it a two-for-one; students learn classic literature while learning so much more. They can gain a better understanding of the human condition, learn how to write effectively, and develop critical thinking skills.
Additionally, classic short stories can be used as an appetizer. Short stories are bite-size literature experiences that can help students find authors or genres that might interest them. It’s much easier to encourage a student to read a short story than a whole novel. It would then be easy, for example, to have a student willingly give Frankenstein a try if they’ve first enjoyed Mary Shelley’s Invisible Girl.
Many students avoid reading classic short stories because they believe that the content will be too difficult or dry. However, these stories can offer students a unique perspective on the human condition and can help them improve their writing skills. Classic short stories are often concise and well written, which can help students learn how to develop their own ideas in a clear and concise manner.
While studying classic short stories may not seem like it would have a lot of practical applications, there are in fact many different ways that students can benefit from this type of activity. For example, students who struggle with ADHD can benefit from the focus and concentration that is required to read and analyze these stories.
In addition, studying classic literature can help students to develop important critical thinking skills, as they must often interpret the author's meaning and intent. Furthermore, these stories can be used to teach a wide variety of important life skills, such as empathy and understanding others. Studying short stories that reveal layers of human emotion, and the thought patterns behind them can be especially helpful to students that have students who have difficulty recognizing, or appropriately responding to the emotions of others. Unlike direct social-emotional learning, learning about the human condition through literature can show the student a wider range of kinds of people, backgrounds, and situations. It allows them to build a library on which to reference when navigating their everyday lives.
Ultimately, then, studying classic short stories can be an extremely beneficial activity for students of all ages and backgrounds.
Try This Mark Twain Lesson
The study of classic literature doesn’t have to be scary for either the student or the instructor. Using tried and tested techniques, an instructor can approach any short story. For additional support, they might use a scaffolded curriculum that gives them the support they need.
Try the annotated short story lesson for your student that is provided below. It’s all laid out and includes a printable and digital version, and an answer key. Students will do more than just reading. It has embedded activities, videos, and a tutorial with guided note-taking. Just print or download and use.