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Modern Fear and Suspense
Title – Modern Fear and Suspense
By – Melanie Marchand
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts
Grade Level – 11-12
Modern Fear and Suspense – Lesson 3
Short Story Unit Contents:
- Short Story Unit Overview
- Lesson 1 – Elements of the Short Story
- Lesson 2 – A Ghost Story
- Lesson 3 – Modern Fear and Suspense
- Lesson 4 – Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery
- Lesson 5 – The Most Dangerous Game
- Lesson 6 – Conclusion
- Culminating Activity
Overview: This lesson will be used to open the students’ interest in the contemporary short story. By using a famous author, it is hoped that the students’ appetite will be wetted sufficiently. You are unlikely to have much resistance to the use of one of King’s stories because of the popularity of his novels, short stories, and movies. Most students should already be away of King through at least one medium.
Purpose: The main thrust of this lesson is to introduce the form in a way that the student can relate to. From there the student will be able to form opinions on what makes for a successful short story in the genre of fear and suspense. The students will then be asked to relate their findings back to classic works of fear and suspense. By the end of the unit, the student should have an understanding of the format used in short stories, as well as techniques and conventions of those are the genre of fear and suspense.
1. Introduce King’s background (i.e. age, lifestyle, education, and inspirations).
2. Read the story aloud with the students.
3. Label the components of the “The Reapers Image” (i.e. introduction / antagonist / protagonist, inciting incident, rising action, crisis, climax, conclusion) giving specifics for each.
4. Introduce questions to be posed to groups, followed by group discussions.
5. Set-up for next lesson.
Activities and Procedures
1. Introduction to King’s background should contain connections to his style of writing.
— Born 1947 in Portland, Maine.
— Father left when he was young, leaving behind a plethora of science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels.
— Lived on the edge of poverty until he ‘made it’ as an author.
— Inspirations: John D. MacDonald, Ed McBain, Shirley Jackson, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ken Kesey, Margaret Mitchell, Andre North, Jack London, Agatha Christie, and Thomas Hardy.
2. Read the story “The Reaper’s Image” aloud with the students. Either read it yourself, or have the students take turns reading paragraphs. This will allow you to gage the students’ interest in the story.
3. Lead a critical analysis of the structure and main components of the story. This should tie back to the introduction lesson on the short story and its form. Point of view, introduction , inciting incident, rising action, crisis, climax, and conclusion should all be clearly identified.
4. Break the class up into groups of 5-6. Have each group tackle one of the following questions:
— Who is the reaper in this story? Where is he seen?
— What kind of place is the Samuel Claggert Memorial Private Museum?
— Describe the characteristics of Mr. Carlin and Johnson Spangler. What kind of person is each one?
— What does the author tell us about Delver Mirrors?
— What is the significance of the statue of Adonis? (May require a bit of background given out to the group
— Do you like the ending? Give your reasons. Continue the story with an additional episode.
5. As an assignment, have the groups pass in their finding on the following day at which time they will be discussed. This will then lead into the next short story to be studied.
Introduce the culminating activity!!!!!! (See Unit Plan)
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