Adding Details: Using Research in Writing Short Fiction

A Seven-Week Language Arts Unit

 

 

Prefatory Statement for Unit

This six week unit will center on the use of research in creative writing.  It is part of a larger concept for teaching writing that I call “Something to Write About.” The “Something to Write About” model will use a variety of experiences such as service learning, field trips, and artistic expression to aid in student learning of a variety of writing styles and purposes.   

 

The following unit called “Adding Details:  Using Research in Short Fiction” is designed in two parts:  the first provides a framework using the elements of a short story, and the second utilizes research, the “something to write about,” to create detailed and descriptive language in that short story.  Many students struggle with creative writing because they neglect the basic elements of a short story (usually ending up with character sketches) and because they “don’t know what to write about.”  This unit will help them by providing the necessary structure and direction that they need to succeed. Too often writing becomes a dull, yet painful experience in a student’s secondary career.  However, providing the necessary scaffolding can lead to successful creative expression and can revitalize a student’s interest in the writing process. 

 

Choice in the selection of subject matter is an important aspect of this unit.  Because of the abundant past, present, or futuristic research material available, students’ interests relating to their socioeconomic status, gender, race, or ethnicity may be addressed.  Students are also encouraged in the web quest that introduces the unit to consider different aspects of social awareness – providing the students with expanded personal and world views.  They will be able to utilize what they learn about other people, places, and times in the creative writing process and, ultimately, make it their own.

 

Class Specification

This unit is designed for the eleventh or twelfth grade level.  Because of the intensive research elements in the web quest and the final short story, this unit may not be suitable for younger students.  However, with modifications to the research required this unit could be successfully used in the middle school, ninth or tenth grade language arts class.       

 

Significant Assumptions

○ Students have grade level reading/writing/grammar skills

○ Students have experience reading a variety of short stories and responding to them.

○ Students know the elements of short story fiction.

○ Students have already experimented with copy change (the use of the plot structure of a work of fiction) in short story writing.

○ Students have prior experience in doing research for expository writing.

○ Students have experience with editing and using word processing.

○ Students have prior experience taking notes and drawing in journals and logs.

○ Students are familiar with the protocols for working in small group discussions.

○ Students know class rules for peer editing.

○ Students are capable of reading the material and following the web quest links.

Students will have multiple intelligences and will do better with some aspects of the unit than others.

○ Students will display a variety of developmental levels and skills.

○ Some students may need extra time for constructivist methods of teaching and learning.

○ Some students will need accommodations to get the most from this unit.

○ Some students will have trouble staying on track if they do not have periodic deadlines.

○ Few students will have experience in writing short stories without copy changing first.

○ Few students will be accomplished artists and draftspersons.

 

Standards/ Objectives

Standards for:

Elements of Composition

Standard: The student will engage in a writing process with attention to audience, organization, focus, quality of ideas, and a purpose.

■      Revise writing for clarity, coherence, smooth transitions and unity.

        ■      Apply available technology to develop, revise and edit writing.

 

Spelling, Grammar and Usage

Standard: The student will apply Standard English conventions when writing.

        ■      Use an extensive variety of correctly punctuated sentences for meaning and stylistic effect.

        ■      Edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, verb tense, sentence structure, and paragraphing to enhance clarity and readability.

 

Research

Standard: The student will locate and use information in reference materials.

        ■      Use print, electronic databases and online resources to access information, organize ideas, and develop writing.

 

* From Minnesota Academic Standards, Language Arts K-1

 

Objectives:  Students will have learned:

 ► To use the elements and structure of short fiction in their writing.

 ► To research material to use in an original short story.

 ► To analyze short stories and synthesize the information into their own writing.   

 ► To imagine and write the setting of their short story through directed visualization.

 ► To use visual symbols to create descriptive and metaphoric language.

 ► To use graphic organizers such as mapping to aid in the structuring of plot.

 ► To use sentence combining and sentence patterns in their writing.

 ► To consider their audience when writing short fiction.

 ► To give feedback and constructive criticism to their peers.

 

 Possible Whole-Class Activities

○ Class will read along in class while instructor reads short stories aloud.

○ Teacher directed, guided visualization for setting (students write individually) see Week Three Day Three.  

○ Whole class discussions about:

● Web quest

● Research for fiction

● Author interview

● Characterization

● Figurative language

● Plot diagrams and graphic maps

● Sentence stretching, combing, and patterning 

 

Possible Small-Group Activities

○ Web quest will be in small groups of three students.

Peer discussions and peer editing for various projects throughout the unit.  

 

Possible Individual Activities

○ Research a variety of materials both online and in print media to use in the writing of a short story

○ Research worksheet that will aid in their short story

○ Create character mandala and generated writing

○ Create plot mapping

○ Write short story that makes use of research

 

Ongoing Activities

○ Students will keep an ongoing journal or log to aid in the writing of the short story.

○ Periodic writing prompts pertaining to unit for students to record in journal/log. 

○ Peer groups will meet regularity to revise and edit various individual activities. 

Students will turn in journal/logs and drafts at set stages of the writing process. 

 

Student Resources/Students will need:

Notebook (for journal/logs)

□ Folder or three-ring binder (for loose handouts and art work handed in with journal/log)

□ Art paper and art materials (basic supplies provided; students may supplement)

□ Access to internet and electronic databases

□ Access to library for research

□ Access to word processing

 

Unit Launch/ Anticipatory Set/ Set Induction

This set induction is designed to help the students understand that they too can write short fiction with the help of a structure to follow and “something to write about” using research.  Activating their prior knowledge of the elements of short fiction is a start.  Have students write in a journal about their favorite aspects of past short stories and why they felt those elements may have been more effective than others.  Have students share their journaling in class.  Then have students brainstorm about what places or time or people would interest them enough to want to incorporate the information into a short story.  Have students get into small groups to share their thoughts.  Briefly discuss the real purpose for the writing in the possibility to publish their work.  Get them excited without scaring them.                

 

Organization of the Unit

Week One    Rehearsal     

 

Day One:  Start with the set induction (previously mentioned) and then introduce the different parts of the unit including the web quest.  Tell them that the web quest will work as a rehearsal for the larger unit and that they will be able to work on it in small groups.   Get the students into groups of three for the web quest.

 

Days Two and Three:  Have students work on the web quest in the resources center.  Be available to answer questions and help students generate ideas. 

 

Day Four:  Give researching for fiction lesson in which the teacher introduces the students to concept that many authors research material when they write fiction.  Discuss the different possibilities and remind them of the first day of the unit launch when they thought about the possibilities.  Tell them that they could research the past, present, or even the future (innovative research for those interested in sci-fi) for their short stories.  Go to resource center to work on web quest  

 

Day Five:  Give two short lessons on this day.  The first lesson is the review of journals and logs and how to use them, what is included, and when to turn them in for in this unit.  The second includes an interview clip from NPR, which has the author Russell Banks talking about using research in his writing.  Again, discuss with the class what topic for research they may be interested in if there is time in class have them go to the resource center and start looking for books.

 

Week Two    Getting Students Started

 

Day One:  Students continue to look for reading materials and search online in the resources center for research.  For those that have found materials they can use in class time to read.

 

Day Two:  Students get into their groups and discuss their ideas for using the research that they have been finding and how they might be able to use it in their short story.

 

Day Three:  Introduce characterization lesson using examples from short fiction and movies to review and discuss how can use in up coming short story.  Hand out character worksheet to record their ideas.   Near the end of class form groups for peer editing and small group discussion through out the unit.  (See detailed characterization lesson plan.)     

 

Day Four:  Give quick quiz on character types and characterization.  Then give character mandala lesson.  Use remaining time to work on creating visual symbols.  (See detailed character mandala lesson plan.)

 

Day Five:  Students get into groups to discuss using their research to enhance the characters in their short stories.  Give time in class for students to start writing story concentrating on the characters.  Students who still need more research can go to the resources center.   

         

Week Three    Putting the Elements Together

 

Day One:  Continue the lesson on character mandalas by introducing the generated writing portion of the lesson.  Using the visual symbols that the students created for their characters have students write metaphoric language that may be used in their short stories.          

 

Day Two:  Give figurative language lesson.  Use works of literature in small groups to find examples of figurative language.  Introduce the concept of guided visualization and give warm up exercises to prepare students for the next class period when they will be doing a more extensive visualization exercise.    

 

Day Three:  Give visualizing the setting lesson.  Tell students about the use of guided visualization and how to use their imaginations for the setting in their short stories.  Have them shut their eyes and guide them through the setting of their short story.  When through, have them draw pictures and images of what they encountered. 

 

Day Four:  Give the plot diagram lesson and the graphic organizers lesson that focuses on mapping the plot of the students’ short stories.  The plot diagram will be in the form of a hand out that contains the setting, the set-up, rising actions, turning point, climax, and resolution.  The graphic plot map is a non-linear organizer to aid the students in the structure of their short stories.  

 

Day Five:  Group discussion and work on plot and mapping for their short stories. 

 

Week Four    Starting the Writing

 

Day One:  Give the Stretch-A-Sentence lesson and have students practice using technique on sentences for their short stories. 

 

Day Two:  Peer editing and multiple drafting review lesson on the protocols for listening and helping revise each others writing.  Groups get together and review the stretched sentences from the day before.

 

Day Three:  Have students get into peer editing groups and read first drafts to each other for critique.  Give time for students to make revisions in class.  Return to groups to review revisions if time permits.   

 

Day Four:  Give sentence combining lesson.  Have class writing in their journals about sentence combining and how they will use it in their short stories.

 

Day Five:  Have them combine some of the sentences that they have already written from the first draft for the second draft.  If time permits, have them read combined sentences in peer editing groups.        

 

Week Five    Making it Better

 

Day One:  Peer editing of second draft.  This draft will be handed into teacher for comments and formative assessment. 

 

Day Two:  Writing dialogue and using quotation marks lesson.  This lesson is designed to be of actual use to the students in the writing process.  Giving this lesson at this time in the writing process helps them to write dialogue in their short stories if they so wish.

 

Day Three:  Sentence patterns lesson.  This lesson will help make the students aware of the style and variety of the sentences that they will write in the stories.  These patterns will be formatively assessed in the third draft of their short stories.  Have the students get into small groups to discuss the implications of sentence patterns in their stories and how they might be able to make use of them. 

 

Day Four:  This is an in class writing day with the emphasis on using different sentence patterns.  Students who are ready can use the word processing lab to compose.   

 

Day Five:  Word processing lab day where students word process their third draft.     

 

Week Six    Getting it Done

       

Day One:  Publishing student work lesson where all of the publishing possibilities are discussed again in greater detail.  This was first mentioned in the set induction.  Students will have time to work on word processing.      

  

Day Two:  Peer review and editing day.  This is where the almost finished short story is refined.  Put an emphasis on reviewing the different sentence patterns that have been written for short story.  If there is time, students can go to the word processing lab to work on revisions.    

 

Days Three – Five:  More time allowed for word processing or on extra credit projects linked to the short story such as illustrations for the story, a book cover design, an opening poem, or a song.

 

Week Seven    Presentations

 

Days One – Five:  Have the students hang their art work on the walls and read their stories to the whole class.  Have a party with snacks on the final day.  (Depending on class size, a whole week may not be necessary.)    To make it fair, all work is handed into teacher on Monday, and students are randomly selected to give presentations.  Accommodations for students unable to read work in class can be made.  Volunteer readers or an electronic recording of the story are possible options.  After the stories are assessed publish student work in school outlets and online. 

 

 

 

Unit Calendar

Week

Number

 

Monday

 

Tuesday

 

Wednesday

 

Thursday

 

Friday

 

 

 

One

Unit launch

Web Quest introduction

Students into small web groups

Work on Web Quest in resources center

Work on Web Quest

in resources center

 

Researching for fiction lesson

Work on Web Quest in resources center

Research and writing log lesson

Author interview

Web Quest

Due

 

 

 

Two

Library and resources center

Read research materials

Group work on ideas for story using

research writing in class

Character-ization lesson

 

Form groups for peer review and editing

Character mandala lesson

Quiz on char.

Research and writing log Due

Group work on using research to enhance  characters

Character traits Due

 

 

 

Three

Mandala generated writing lesson

 

Figurative language lesson

 

Visualization warm up

 

Visualizing the setting lesson

 

Character mandala/ Writing Due

The plot diagram &  Graphic maps lesson

Group work on plot and mapping

 

Setting drawing and writing Due

 

 

 

Four

Stretch-A-Sentence lesson

 

Plot mapping

Due

Peer editing and multiple drafting lesson Review stretched sentences

Peer editing and review 

 

 

1st Draft Due

Sentence combining lesson

 

Research and writing log Due

In class writing using sentence combining

 

 

 

Five

Peer editing

Review sentence combining

2nd Draft Due

Writing dialogue and using quotation marks lesson

Sentence patterns lesson

 

Group discussions

In class writing using sentence patterns

Word Processing

In Lab

 

 

 

Six

Publishing student work lesson

Word Processing in Lab or extra credit

Peer editing

Review sentence patterns

 

3rd Draft Due

 

Word Processing and Extra Credit

 

Word Processing and Extra Credit

 

Word Processing and Extra Credit

Research and writing log Due

 

 

Seven

Student presentations hang art and read work

 

 

Final Project Due

Student presentations hang art and read work

Student presentations hang art and read work

Student presentations hang art and read work

Party

Student presentations hang art and read work

 

     

Detailed Plans for Three Days of the Unit

 

Week Two / Day Two Lesson Plan

 

Characterization Lesson

 

 

 

 

Week Two / Day Four Lesson plan

 

Character Mandala (first part of two-part lesson plan)

 

    

 

 

Week Four / Day One Lesson Plan

 

Stretch-A-Sentence

 

Detailed Plans for Three Days of the Unit cont.

 

Week Two / Day Two Lesson Plan

Characterization Lesson

Duration:  40 minutes of a 50-minute period

Rationale:  Because characterization is such an important element of short fiction, the students will review basic character and characterization concepts before they put their knowledge to use in analysis of literature and in their own writing.  Human beings are drawn to other human beings, and the characters in a work of fiction are no exception.  We can all learn a little more about ourselves when we look into what makes the characters in the novels and short stories tick.  The world will be a better place if we understand ourselves as well as others.  Literature can help in that regards.           

 Objectives:  Students will have learned:

 ► To define the differences between static and dynamic characters.

 ► To relate the types of characters (static and dynamic) to various literature examples.

 ► To list direct and indirect characterization techniques.

 ► To utilize direct and indirect characterization in their own short story using research.          

Method:

Anticipatory Set:  Show short clip from a movie that has a strong character study such as Alan Rickman as Snape from the Harry Potter movies.  Briefly have class describe his character from the short clip and how he works as Harry’s foil.   

Direct lesson:  Tell students that there will be a short quiz the next day on the following information:  Characters do not need to be human, but they should possess human traits.  Characters are classified as static or dynamic.  “A static character is one who does not change much in the course of a story.  A dynamic character, on the other hand, changes in some important was as a result of the story’s action” (1261). 

“The process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character is called characterization.  A writer can reveal a character is the following ways:

  1. By telling us directly what the character is like:  humble, ambitious, impetuous, easily manipulated, and so on
  2. By describing how the character looks and dresses
  3. By letting us hear the character speak
  4. By revealing the character’s private thoughts and feelings
  5. By revealing the character’s effect on other people—showing how other characters feel or behave toward the character
  6. By showing the character’s actions           

The first method of revealing a character is called direct characterization.  When a character uses this method, we do not have to figure out what a character’s personality is like—the writer tells us directly.  The other five methods of revealing a character are known as indirect characterization.  When a writer uses these methods, we have to exercise our own judgment, putting clues together to figure out what a character is like—just as we do in real life when we are getting to know someone” (1261).

 

Have students get into small groups and discuss type of characters and characterization in sample flash fiction literature. 

Closure:  Talk to the students about how they can make their characters come to life through characterization in their upcoming short story.   Remind them of the clip from Harry Potter and how interesting even a “minor” character can be. 

Tell them that one of the categories on the rubric will be on characterization and that the upcoming projects will help them achieve positive results.  Hand out the character traits for short story using research worksheet.  Explain.  Remind class about the short quiz the next day. 

Assessment:  Formative assessment will come from monitoring the small group discussions about characterization that follows the direct lesson.  There will be a short quiz on types of characters and the different characterization techniques. Each student will fill out a character traits handout and will use it to form their main character for their short story.  They will need to keep it in their folder and notebook as part of their ongoing journal/log for the main project.  (See journal/log checklist under Supporting Materials.)  There is also a characterization category in the rubric for the final short story using research project assessing the material from this lesson.  (See Rubric for Short Story Using Research under Supporting Materials.)   

Homework:  Have students fill out the character traits of one or more of their main characters that they are planning for your short story using the handout.  Have ready in two days when the small groups will meet to discuss using research to enhance characters.

* Information on characterization from Elements of Literature:  Sixth Course Literature of Britain Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.  1993.

 

 

Week Two / Day Four Lesson plan

Character Mandala (first part of two-part lesson plan)

Duration:  50-minute class period

Rationale:  Mandalas are drawings that use the “ancient idea of the circular shape as an archetype denoting the integration of a number of elements to make a whole” (13).  Mandalas and the language generated from the visual exercise assist in the writing of descriptive and metaphoric language used in the students’ short stories.  The students are better able to create complex characters by converting their abstract ideas into concrete symbols through drawing.  Visual projects in conjunction with student writing also integrate the multiple intelligences into the learning experience and carry over into other aspects of students’ lives. 

 

Objectives:  Students will have learned:

  ► To produce a variety of visual symbols pertaining to a character for their short story.  

  ► To portray the duality inherent in their created characters for short story.

  ► To generate metaphoric language to use to describe the complexities of their character.  

Method:

Anticipatory Set:  Children of all cultures draw circular shapes and draw pictures that carry meaning.  Many cultures such as the Navaho and countries such as India, China, and Japan have a tradition of using the mandala.  Even the rosette stained glass windows in many Christian cathedrals are mandala forms.  Fran Claggett describes a mandala in her book Drawing Your Own Conclusions:  Graphic Strategies for Reading, Writing, and Thinking as an “ancient idea of the circular shape as an archetype denoting the integration of a number of elements to make a whole” (13).  Ask students if they have seen such circular shapes in life or in books that they have read.  Discuss.

Explain assignment and rationale to students.  This lesson will make use of the students’ characters that they are developing for their short stories.  They will develop visual symbols that will portray the duality of a prominent character by depicting the sun and shaded personality traits of that character.  The variety of symbols should help the student to understand the motivations and complexities of characters that they are trying to flesh out for their stories. 

Selecting the Images:  Give students a list of specific visual prompts to come up with depict different character traits.  The images are for both the “sun” and the “shaded” aspects of the character.  Have students write down responses to the following question.  What kind of _____________ is your character?  list:  animal, plant, color, number, shape, object, gem, season, or element such as fire, water, air, or earth (aspects of these could be beach, desert, breeze, storm, etc.)       

The final mandala does not need to use the entire list (six minimum for each side) and may be depicted in any fashion that the students sees fit.  The writing aspect of the lesson will come later, but it is important when selecting the images to think of the way they will be used in the writing.  Tell students to consider the following phrase when selecting the final images:  The character is like the __________ because, like the __________he/she is _________________________________________. 

Give out the checklist for assessment expectations.  Use remaining class time to have students get into groups to discuss their choices.              

Assessment:  The mandala will be assessed along with the writing later in the unit.  The rubric will have criteria for drawn mandala and generated writing.  Rubric is included in Supporting Materials for Teachers section of unit.     

Homework:  Finish mandala drawing and have ready for Generating Writing lesson a few days later.   

* Quote and lesson adapted from Drawing Your Own Conclusions:  Graphic Strategies for Reading, Writing, and Thinking by Fran Claggett with Joan Brown.

 

 

Week Four / Day One Lesson Plan

Stretch-A-Sentence

Duration:  One 50-minute class period

Rationale:  This collaborative lesson integrates grammar and usage into the writing process.  It stresses the importance of adding interesting details and information to short sentences, and it confirms that “how” and “what” they write matters in the world.  

Objectives:  Students will have learned:

 ► To use standard English conventions during the creative writing process to add detail,

         information, and interest to a short sentence.

 ► To expand a short sentence using an opening participle phrase modifier with correct

         punctuation.

 ► To connect two related, independent clauses using a semi-colon. 

Method:

Anticipatory Set:  Write the sample sentences on the board:  “The dog ran into the store.”  Followed by:  “Looking both ways and leaping from the parked car during a thunderous rainstorm, the over-excited, large, black dog ran across the busy street into the convenience store to see if its pokey owner was still purchasing the extra-large Milk Bonesâ and bottle of Avianâ spring water for the dog’s supper; the humongous dog was especially hungry that rain-soaked night.”  Ask the students what they think of the first sentence.  Most likely, the students will make statements like “it is boring” or “there is not much to it” etc.  If not, the instructor leads them into the question of why would we want to make short, uninteresting sentences more exciting and detailed.  Talk about how future employers would think of a person who could not write an interesting, complete sentence and how we are judged by our ability to communicate with the written word.  Also, talk with the class about the creative aspects of writing a sentence.  Point out the title “Stretch-A-Sentence” and give analogy of stretching and molding clay.  Let the students know that they too can learn how to write interesting and accurate sentences. 

Make the point that there is a lot in the “stretched” sentence.  For this lesson, they will be concerned with just two aspects, the participle phrases at the opening of the sample sentence and the semi-colon near the end of the sentence.  While pointing out the words “looking” and “leaping” in the sample sentence, the instructor discusses the use of participles (“ing” verbals) and how they modify the subject, “dog.”  Then the grammar lesson will be on the use of the semi-colon in the sample sentence and how the two independent clauses relate to each other.  Discuss why in the case of the sample sentence a “, and” would not be as effective.  (Too many “ands” already.) 

Finally, discuss the reason why they will be writing a creative sentence to learn grammar conventions and how they can add detail, information, and interest to a short, core sentence.  Hand out rubric for assessment of sentences.  Use rubric with the class to evaluate the sample sentence already on the board.          

Have the students move into groups of three or four.  Have them write an extension to the core sentence, “The student walked into the classroom.”  Remind them to use the rubric and to use an opening participle phrase or two and the semi-colon.  Also, remind them that this is a creative writing exercise so they should be open to ideas and to have fun.  They will sign all names and hand in at the end of the class.  Walk around to monitor progress.  Have students read aloud the sentences.  Discuss. 

Closure:  Tell the students that there are many ways to create complete, interesting sentences and that the sentences that the class came up with are just a few examples.  Make the point that writing is not a formula; the two methods covered today are there to use or not use.  We are coving the material so they are familiar with the method and have the choice to use it or not.  Come back to the reasons why we would want to write good complete sentences and how we can be creative while doing so. 

Assessment:  Watch and listen for understanding of the concepts during the lesson.  Use rubric to assess the groups’ sentences and the individuals’ sentences.  Assessment will also come when the concept is used in actual student writing.    

Homework:  Use the stretch-a-sentence concept for current student writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting Materials for Teachers Who Teach Unit

 

  1. Character Traits for Short Story Using Research handout for characterization lesson
  2. Rubric for Mandala and Writing
  1. Plot Diagram
  2. Cluster Map for plot mapping lesson
  1. Rubric for Short Story Using Research
  1. Sentence Patterns
  1. Journal/log Checklist
  2. Project Points and Grades

 

 

 

Supporting Materials for Teachers Who Teach Unit cont.

 

Character Traits for Short Story Using Research

Character’s Name and Age:

Background / Upbringing:

Friends / Family:

Where Lives / With Whom:

Type of Dwelling:

Occupation/Role in Group:

Financial Status:

Physical Characteristics e.g. color, size, etc:

How Dresses:

State of Mind:

Attitude Towards Others:

Strengths / Weaknesses:

Static / Dynamic:  How? Why?

Loves / Hates:

Likes / Dislikes:

Motivations:

How Sees Self:

How Others see Character:

Past Problems/ Successes:

Present Problems/ Successes:

Outlook on Life:

How do you feel about your character? 

Why write about him/her/it?

 

 

Rubric for Mandala and Metaphoric Writing  15 pts.

Category

5

4

3

2

 

 Visual Symbols

Exemplary use and number (six or more per side) of abstract character ideas expressed through visual symbols.

Sufficient use and number (4-5 per side) of abstract character ideas expressed through visual symbols.

Insufficient use and number (2-3 per side) of abstract character ideas expressed through visual symbols.

Little or no use or number (1 or less per side) of abstract character ideas expressed through visual symbols.

 

Metaphoric Language

Exemplary conversion of visual symbol into metaphoric language.

Good conversion of visual symbol into metaphoric language.

 Adequate conversion of visual symbol into metaphoric language.

Little or no conversion of visual symbol into metaphoric language.

 

 Creativity

There are no clichés present in the symbols and writing.  The author has really used his/her imagination.

There are few (1-2) clichés present in the symbols and writing.  The author has used his/her imagination.

There are some (3-4) clichés present in the symbols and writing.  The author has tried to use his/her imagination.

There are many (5 or more) clichés present in the symbols and writing.  The author does not seem to have used much imagination.

 

Plot Diagram

1. An initiating event: Either an idea or an action that sets further events in motion.

2. An internal response: The protagonist's inner reaction to the initiating event, in which the protagonist sets a goal or attempts to solve a problem.

3. An attempt: The protagonist's efforts to achieve the goal or alleviate the problem. Several attempts, some failed, may be in an episode.

4. An outcome: The success or failure of the protagonist's attempts.

5. A resolution: An action or state of affairs that evolves from the protagonist's success or failure to achieve the goal or alleviate the problem.

6. A reaction: An idea, an emotion, or a further event that expresses the protagonist's feelings about the success or failure of goal attainment/problem resolution or that relates the events in the story to some broader set of concerns. (Vacca and Vacca 1996, 257)

* From Image Grammar: Using Grammatical Structures to Teach Writing by Harry R. Noden

 

 

 

 

Cluster Map for Plot Mapping

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighted Rubric for Short Story Using Research  100 pts.  

 

Category

15

13

12

11

 

 

 Characterization

The main characters are named and clearly described using variety of direct and indirect techniques. Most readers could describe the characters accurately.

The main characters are named and described using some direct and indirect techniques. Most readers would have some idea of what the characters are like.

The main characters are named using few direct and indirect characterization techniques. The reader knows very little about the characters.

It is hard to tell who the main characters are and there is little or no use of direct or indirect characterization techniques.

 

 Setting

Many vivid, descriptive words are used to tell when and where the story took place.

Some vivid, descriptive words are used to tell the audience when and where the story took place.

The reader can figure out when and where the story took place, but the author didn't supply much detail.

The reader has trouble figuring out when and where the story took place.

 

 Organization of Plot

The story is very well organized. One idea or scene follows another in a logical sequence with clear transitions.

The story is pretty well organized. One idea or scene may seem out of place. Clear transitions are used.

The story is a little hard to follow. The transitions are sometimes not clear.

Ideas and scenes seem to be randomly arranged.

 

Research for Short Story

 

Research for short story is very effective with three or more sources that are well documented. 

Research for short story somewhat effective with two sources that are documented. 

Research for short story is not effective with one source that is documented. 

Research for short story is not apparent and without any documented sources. 

 

 

 Creativity

The story contains many creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader's enjoyment. The author has really used his/her imagination.

The story contains a few creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader's enjoyment. The author has used his/her imagination.

The story contains a few creative details and/or descriptions, but they distract from the story. The author has tried to use his/her imagination.

There is little evidence of creativity in the story. The author does not seem to have used much imagination.

 Sentence Structure (Fluency)

All sentences are well-constructed with varied and interesting structure patterns.

Most sentences are well-constructed with varied and interesting structure patterns.

Most sentences are well-constructed but have similar and uninteresting structure patterns.

Sentences lack structure and appear incomplete or rambling.

 

10

8

4

2

 

 Grammar and Spelling (Conventions)

Writer makes no errors in grammar or spelling that distract the reader form the content.

Writer makes 1-2 errors in grammar or spelling that distract the reader form the content.

Writer makes 3-4 errors in grammar or spelling that distract the reader form the content.

Writer makes more than 4 errors in grammar or spelling that distract the reader form the content.

 

 

 

 

 

 Sentence Patterns

  1.  Compound sentence with semicolon and no conjunction

(two short, related sentences now joined)

S V ; S V.

e.g. Caesar, try on this toga; it seems to be your size.

 2.  Compound sentence with elliptical construction

(comma indicates the omitted verb)

S V DO or SC ; S , DO or SC.

e.g. A red light means stop; a green, go. 

3.  Compound sentence with explanatory statement

(independent clauses separated by a colon)

General statement : specific statement (example).

e.g. Darwin’s Origin of the Species forcibly states a harsh truth:  only the fittest survive.

4.  An introductory series of appositives

(with a dash and a summarizing subject)

App , app , app , -- summary word S V.

e.g. The trees on the shore, the water on the lake, the blue sky above – all told their story.

5.  An internal series of appositives or modifiers

(enclosed by a pair of dashes)

S – app , app , app – V.

S – mod , mod , mod – V.

e.g. The scholarly disciplines and especially the sciences – physical, biological, social – share the burden of searching for truth.

6.  A series if balanced pairs for rhythm

(may be in any slot in sentence)

A and B , C and D , E and F

e.g. Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere were all famous lovers in literature.

7.  Interrupting modifier between S and V

(set off with commas, dashes, or parentheses)

S , modifier , V.

e.g. A small drop of ink, falling like a dew upon a thought, can make millions think.

8.  Introductory or concluding participles

(ing or ed ending verbals)

Part phrase , S V.

e.g. Having once been burned by a hot stove, the cat refused to go into the kitchen.

9.  Object or Complement before S and V

(for variety)

e.g. His kind of sarcasm I do not like.

10.  Inverted sentence pattern

(backwards sentence)

Object or complement or modifier V S.

e.g. Down the street and through the mist stumbled the unfamiliar figure.

11.  Very short sentence or question

(for variety and emphasis)

e.g He knew.  or  When will it end?

12.  The deliberate fragment

(best if short and obviously not an error)

What then?  Nothing.

* Sentence Patterns adapted from practicum lesson by Jack Gritzmacher

 

Journal/Log Checklist

These items are to be kept in the folder or three-ring binder and will be due at various times through out the unit along with the journal/log.

□ General ideas for short story using research

□ Writing prompts

□ Research notes and MLA documented sources

□ Character traits for short story using research

□ Plot diagram handout filled in with story ideas

□ Plot mapping graphic organizer

□ Setting drawing and generated language

□ Mandala and generated language

□ Mandala sketches and ideas in progress

□ Sentence practice from Stretch-A-Sentence lesson

□ Sentence practice from Sentence Combining lesson

□ Sentence practice from Sentence Patterns lesson

□ Group work and self evaluation

 

Project Points

Web Quest    16 pts.

Short Story Using Research    100 pts.

Journal/Log all notes for whole project    20 pts.

Research MLA documented Sources    5 pts.

Character Traits for Short Story Using Research    5 pts.

Quiz on characterization    4 pts.

Mandala and Mandala Generated Writing    10 pts.

Imagined setting Drawing    5 pts.

Imagined Setting Generated Writing    10 pts.

Plot Diagram Worksheet    5 pts.

Plot Mapping    5 pts.

Sentence Practice for Three Sentence Lessons    10 pts.

Group Work and Self Evaluation    5 pts.

Total of 200 pts. for unit

 

 Grades

Percentages to figure out the grade of each project and for entire unit:

A+      =         100                  A        =         94— 99              A-       =            90 — 93

B+      =         87 — 89          B     =            83 — 86             B-       =            80 — 82

C+      =         77 — 79          C     =            73 — 76             C-       =            70 — 72

D+      =         67 — 69          D     =            63 — 66             D-       =            60 — 62

F         =         59 and under

 

 

 

Assessment Package

Projects that will have checklists are:

♦ Plot mapping

♦ Imagined setting drawing and writing

♦ Research worksheet

♦ Research and writing log/journal

♦ Group work and self evaluation

Projects that will have rubrics are:

♦ Web quest (see Evaluation page of web quest)

♦ Character mandala and writing

♦ Short story using research

(Rubrics, and Grading found under Supporting Materials.)

 

 

Web Quest for Unit

 

Adding Details:  Using Research to Write Fiction

 

A Web Quest for Eleventh and Twelfth Grade Language Arts

 

Designed by:

Rebecca Moore

moor0145@d.umn.edu

 

 

Introduction     Process     Evaluation     Conclusion

 

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Introduction

You are about to enter the world of Flash Fiction combined with Research. Why Flash Fiction and Research? Because they both fit well on the web, and because they can be wonderfully combined in a creative writing experience, this writing experience!

 

Before you start, you will need to find a couple of kindred spirits who are willing to take this adventure with you. (If you can't find any I'm sure your teacher will direct you into a group of three.) You will also need to take a few notes and jot down a few ideas along the way. You will need to hand them in along with your drafting process when you turn in the final story.

 

Good luck. The process page will lead you through the tasks that will help you create a marvelous piece of fiction. Don't forget to be creative.

And have fun!

 

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Process

Task 1

Find out what Flash Fiction is and what it can do for you.

Flash Fiction

Task 2

Research one of three categories to use in Flash Fiction

Suffrage

Labor Movement

Civil Rights

Task 3

Write your own collaborative Flash Fiction using the information that you discovered in your research links. Use a word processor and don't forget to take a look at the rubric on the evaluation page. It will help give you an idea of what you are shooting for. Also you will need to fill out the story map and hand in with your final collaborative Flash Fiction story along with your research notes and drafting process.

Next Evaluation Page

 

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Flash Fiction

Here are excerpts from an article that may help you understand the term Flash Fiction and how your group might be able to write one yourselves.

(If you wish to read the article in its entirety, follow the title link.)

Flashes On The Meridian :
Dazzled by Flash Fiction

by Pamelyn Casto

Is flash fiction something new? Or is this art form presently enjoying yet another period of popularity? I would answer that it is something old, something new, and even something borrowed too.

Defining or stating exactly what flash fiction is would be comparable to defining or stating exactly what a poem or novel is. It just cannot be done to anyone's satisfaction. The main thing about flash fiction, however, is that it is short.

In general, flash fiction runs from as few as 100 words up to 1,000 or even 1,500 words (some more and some even much less). Flash fiction, of course, goes far beyond a mere word count.

Flash fiction also carries many names. Other names for it include short-short stories, sudden, postcard, minute, furious, fast, quick, skinny, and micro fiction.

By whatever name you might prefer, flash or short-short fiction covers a large range of forms and styles.

The wedding of flash fiction and the Internet seems to have all the ingredients for a happy and prosperous relationship. In print, or on the web, the future of this art form seems assured. There will always be a need for good, tightly-written flash fiction pieces-- miniature condensations that open out the world for and with us. They can show us, as Keats said of poetry, "infinite riches in a small room."

Before you continue on your way to the research task, look at the following link under the Micro Fiction section from Pif Magazine. Read the article by Camille Renshaw and check out (read) at least two of the Flash (Micro) Fiction examples that are there. If you wish, there are many other examples of Flash Fiction in the recommended links that follow. Just make sure to read at least two.

http://www.pifmagazine.com/vol13/ Pif Magazine Volume 13 Micro Fiction section including article by Camille Renshaw

You may go onto the research task now, but if you are interested, here are many more interesting Flash Fiction links:

http://www.thewindjammer.com/smfs/newsletter/html/hotflashes.html Article WRITING HOT FLASHES by Michael Mallory focusing on the mystery hot Flash.

http://www.lcdf.org/indeterminacy/index.cgi John Cage's Indeterminacy

http://www.storybytes.com/ Story Bytes - A monthly Ezine and weekly electronic mailing list presenting the Internet's (and the world's) shortest stories - fiction ranging from 2 to 2048 words.

http://www.heelstone.com/meridian/meansarticle1.html Riding the Meridian with article Flashes on the Meridian : Dazzled bt Flash Fiction by Pamelyn Casto

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Suffrage

Here is a brief history of suffrage found at the Susan B. Anthony Center for Woman's Leadership site. Please read and then proceed to the links following the photographs of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

History of Women's Suffrage

In 1995, the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote, celebrated its 75th anniversary. The resolution calling for woman suffrage had passed, after much debate, at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, convened by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. In The Declaration of Sentiments, a document based upon the Declaration of Independence, the numerous demands of these early activists were elucidated.

The 1848 convention had challenged America to social revolution that would touch every aspect of life. Early women's rights leaders believed suffrage to be the most effective means to change an unjust system. By the late 1800s, nearly fifty years of progress afforded women advancement in property rights, employment and educational opportunities, divorce and child custody laws, and increased social freedoms. The early 1900s saw a successful push for the vote through a coalition of suffragists, temperance groups, reform-minded politicians, and women's social welfare organizations.

Although Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton devoted 50 years to the woman's suffrage movement, neither lived to see women gain the right to vote. But their work and that of many other suffragists contributed to the ultimate passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.

(From: http://www.rochester.edu/SBA/history.html The Susan B. Anthony Center for Woman's leadership.)

 

Take a look at the following links; read of the fascinating lives and times of the women who changed the world. You may be able to use some of it in your own flash fiction.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/nawstime.html Time line One Hundred Years Toward Suffrage: An Overview Compiled by E. Susan Barber

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/cattbio.html Carrie Chapman Catt bio and photo

http://www.picturehistory.com/find/c/179/p/6/mcms.html Suffrage Photographs

And here are a couple of links to add interesting, everyday life details for your flash fiction.

http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/athome/1890/index.html At Home: At Home with Art and Industry 1890-1920

http://www.costumegallery.com/Hairstyles/1881.htm For Hairstyles of the day.

http://www.costumegallery.com/1882/Petersons/ For Clothes of the day.

Optional links

http://www.pbs.org/stantonanthony/ Not For Ourselves Alone a Ken Burns movie

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Labor Movement

Here is a great link to give you some history of the vast, fascinating subject that is the United States labor movement.

http://www.socialstudieshelp.com/EcoUnionization.htm History of Labor Unions with links

Take a look at the next couple of links. You may read just one of the sections in the following link about worker cooperation in America that interest you.

http://www.red-coral.net/WorkCoops.html#Bloody Worker Cooperation in America read on one time section of interest

http://www.picturehistory.com/find/c/171/p/6/mcms.html photos

 

 

Here are links to add interesting, everyday life details for your flash fiction.

http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/athome/1920/ At Home: At Home in a Century of Progress? 1920-1950

Sacque Suits clothes for the "common" man

Optional links that you may find of interest.

http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/soc/labor-links.html Labor History links

http://www.uwstout.edu/cas/socsci//tyson/laborhis.htm A Short History of American Labor (not really very short, but informative.)

http://www.ufw.org/ UFW and Cesar Chavez

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Civil Rights

There is a wealth of information of this important part of our nation's history. Here are a few links that will help you to better understand the events and times during the struggle for civil rights.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/civilrightstimeline1.html Timeline

 

Select two of the following links to read.

http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil/civil36.htm Freedom Rides from Civil Rights a Status Report

http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil/civil32.htm Rosa Parks and the Montgomery boycott from Civil Rights a Status Report

http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil/civil44.htm Selma and the 1965 Voting Act from Civil Rights a Status Report

http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil/civil39.htm The March of Washington from Civil Rights a Status Report

http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil/civil48.htm The Assassination of Martin Luther King from Civil Rights a Status Report

http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil/civil46.htm Legacy of Malcolm from Civil Rights a Status Report

Here are links to add interesting, everyday life details for your flash fiction.

http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/athome/1950/ At Home: At Home in a House Subdivided: 1950-present

http://badfads.com/pages/fashion/afro.html Afro Hair styles (disregard the "bad" and look at the "fad")

http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/anything.htm 60's fashion for women

More 60's fashions to add details and authenticity to you story

Optional links that you may find of interest.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bhmpeople2.html Black Civil Rights leaders

http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/gallery/movement.asp National Civil Rights Museum

http://www.ghgcorp.com/hollaway/civil/contents.htm#civil29 Civil Rights Table of Contents from Civil Rights a Status Report

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Rubric for Web Quest -- Flash Fiction     16 pts.

 

 

Category

 

 

4

 

3

 

2

 

1

 

 

 

Use of research

Excellent use of research in the story.  Historical details greatly enhance the flash fiction.

Good use of research in the story.  Historical details enhance the flash fiction.

Somewhat good use of research in the story.  Historical details somewhat enhance the flash fiction.

Little or no use of research in the story.  Historical details do not enhance the flash fiction very much.

 

Elements of  flash fiction

Excellent use of the elements of flash fiction. 

Good use of the elements of flash fiction. 

Somewhat good use of the elements of flash fiction. 

Little or no use of the elements of flash fiction. 

 

 

 

 

Writing Process

 

Devotes a lot of time and effort to the writing process (prewriting, drafting, reviewing, and editing). Works hard to make the story wonderful.

Devotes sufficient time and effort to the writing process (prewriting, drafting, reviewing, and editing). Works and gets the job done.

 

Devotes some time and effort to the writing process but was not very thorough.  Does enough to get by.

 

Devotes little time and effort to the writing process. Doesn't seem to care.

 

 

 

Collaboration

(These points given individually)

Excellent effort to collaborate with group members to create story.  Did fair share.

Good effort to collaborate with group members to create story.  Made effort to do fair share.

Somewhat good effort to collaborate with group members to create story.  Made some effort to do fair share.

Little or no effort to collaborate with group members to create story.  Made little effort to do fair share.

 

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Conclusion

So how was it? I hope you had a wonderful, creative writing experience, and that you learned a bit along the way. Many authors who make a living writing do much of what you did in this web quest. They use research to give their work that added bit of knowledge and authenticity. I hope you will continue to enjoy reading and writing Flash Fiction in the future and that you will utilize the terrific research resources that are available out there. Keep writing, and who knows maybe you too will join the ranks of the many successful writers out there who love what they are doing.