Sunday, 22 May 2016

Really short stories

This is a bit of silliness. I have a large bank of extracts and novels to pick from when looking for texts to analyse, but occasionally I like to have complete texts, so that I can teach students about how texts are structured. The problem with extracts from a novel is you usually have to provide some context to the extract. Now, this extract is from a book. The book is about a sexually confused blind dragon who lives in a repressed society where fairies are the only creatures with power. I know that is the beauty of texts and novel. You get to teach students about dragons and how dragons have feelings like us too. However, every so often I’d like students to experience whole texts without endless backstory and gap filling. I want stories that are contained in about a hundred and fifty words.
One thing I have particularly enjoyed this year is forcing students to make connections between texts. Only this week, I had one student make a connection between the opening of ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Cinderella’. This led on us to looking at the features of a fairy tale and the use of fairy tale tropes. We discussed whether Jane Eyre is a fairy tale story. Also this term, I have had Year 8 students making connections between ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’. Unintentionally, we looked at various types of madness and discussed if Miss Havisham and Lady Macbeth were examples of monomania.   
Therefore, in my attempt to develop and build up the knowledge and skills of students when analysing texts I have written some minitexts. Or really short stories. Not really, really short- just really short stories. They should be able to stand on their own and involve very little background knowledge. They should have something interesting about them structurally or technically. They should have an opportunity to allow students to explore inferences. If possible, the texts could be used to link to another text.

Here’s two I made earlier:  

Story 1
Number 213 started to open the pod. Slow and steady movements reflected the pace of life for each person in the room. A life of control and perfection. A world without flaws, imperfections, mistakes.

Number 213’s green eyes watched his hands move over the smooth, clean and flawless pod’s surface, searching for a way in. Across the table, several people had already accessed their pods. 315 started to ingest the contents of his pod in a slow, steady and methodical way.

Number 213 finally opened the pod. One hand ready to scoop the nutrients. The other hand holding it open. Empty. A mistake.

A smile broke the perfectly still face of Number 213.

Story 2
A dark stain covered the grass. Patches of sunlight broke through the stain. A tree moved in the breeze, making the stain spread and pour itself amongst the blades of grass.  

Tom put the book down. The exam was tomorrow. The book was half read.

A lawnmower started up. Its dull, rhythmic hum broke the stillness of the lazy afternoon. Dandelions, daisies and the odd weed prepared themselves for the inevitable.

Tom had one thought. A simple thought. If his teacher died, would the exam board take pity on him? Would they see his inability to answer the question as a sign of his emotional distress?

He picked up the pristine copy of the book and attempted to follow the story’s thread. He caught up with it: the characters were toying with the idea of shooting a dog. It was, after all, very, very old.     

I’d love it if others had a go at producing a really short story. Then, we could share them and they could be used a short starter or as part of a lesson. They could be used for preparation for GCSE questions or as a way to develop skills at KS3. But, let me know when you have produced one.


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