Tag Archives: O’Henry

The Most Dangerous Games & Other Mini Games for Popular Short Stories

My middle school students are reading various short stories for a unit that focuses on author’s craft and structure. The three Common Core Learning Standards the overall unit addresses are:

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.
from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/8/
Mini games are a great way to infuse gamification into your lessons, work collaboratively, encourages students to make connections across texts to show their understanding.
The first short story students are reading is Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game about a hunter who becomes the huntee. Before students began reading, I created a game for them to play to initiate thinking about elements of the story. Students worked in teams to complete various tasks. Some of the specific questions led to deep questions about larger themes in the story: the relationship between people and animals, Violence can be psychological as well as physical, Fear brings out animal instincts in people, the ethics of hunting. 


After our close reading of The Most Dangerous Game we moved on to O’Henry’s The Rasom of the Red Chief, about a kidnapping gone wrong. O’Henry’s stories are filled with humor and irony so we focused on these aspects in our reading and discussion of the text. To spark our class activities I supplied each student with an O’Henry style mustache for inspiration and a little humor. Students visited different learning stations to play Roll the Dice, Think Tac Toe, and complete an irony maze created by Not Just Elementary.



Awesome Irony Maze created by Not Just for Elementary


Our next shorty story in the unit is Raymond’s Run by Toni Cade Bambara. As a check for understanding I created a Raymond’s Run Maze with comprehension questions for students to complete and the game Farkle to address figurative language in the story. Farkle is played by two or more players, with each player in succession having a turn at throwing the dice. Each player’s turn results in a score that equates with the number of questions to answer about Metaphors and Similies in the short story Raymond’s Run, and the player who accumulates 10,000 points earns additional XP.


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Differentiation At Its Best: Who was William Sydney Porter?

Because I work with an amazing Special Education teacher who co-teaches my inclusion class with me, I want to share a differentiated assignment that she created for our students about the author O’Henry.  We have been reading and studying O’Henry for the past five weeks in my English classes.  We saved this lesson for the end of the unit so that students could look back and make connections between O’Henry’s life and the characters in his short stories.

For this particular differentiated assignment, there were three different biographies about O’Henry, each catering to a distinct reading level.  We color coded the articles and gave every student the same cover sheet with directions so they would not notice the different readings each student was presented with. Students were asked to read the article closely taking notes in the margins and underlining important details.  Then, students were put into small groups (one of each article per group) and were asked to answer a series of questions that would require all three articles to answer. 

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The synthesis questions completed in small groups asked students to examine O’Henry’s decision to change his name and what can you infer about O’Henry because of this.  In addition, students completed a chart of the similarities between O’Henry’s life and his stories.  Students also addressed O’Henry’s travels and the personal experiences that affected his writing. On a lighter note, because O’Henry has such a distinct mustache, I gave everyone a mustache to use when speaking so they may be inspired to think like O’Henry.

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Here is a link to the higher leveled reading.

Here is a link to the middle leveled reading.

Here and here are links to the easier leveled reading.

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