7 Short Stories with a Twist for High School Students

The following is a true story.

I felt pretty good after teaching my students about theme in literature, so I thought I’d try my hand at teaching short stories with a twist. The first one didn’t go well. 14 out of 39 students stared in disbelief, whining that they didn’t get it. 15 of them said the story was stupid. 10 fell asleep.

After school I realized I’d taught a substandard story. To punish myself, I broke out my drill so I could bore a hole through my eyelid with a 1/2-inch drill bit. Right before becoming a cyclops, I flinched, hit my head on a chandelier, and woke up as H.H. Munroe and Stephen Crane stood over me.

They said nothing.

They did hand me a list of the following short stories for high school with an analyzing irony in literature lesson plan.

Whether you call them short stories with irony or short stories with a twist, you’ll enjoy these classics. If you’re interested in great short story lesson plans, click on the story.

  1. Owl Creek Bridge

    Peyton Farquhar gets a little more than he bargains for at Owl Creek Bridge.

    “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. Peyton Farquhar stands on a plank at Owl Creek Bridge about to be hanged. The rope breaks and Farquhar flees…or does he?

  2. “The Interlopers” by Saki. Two enemies meet in the woods on a dreadful, windy evening. Before they can shoot each other, a tree falls on them. They make peace, but a pack of pesky interlopers…interlope.
  3. Gift of the Magi“The Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry. A young married couple buys the best worst Christmas gifts in the history of holiday gift giving.
  4. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. Mrs. Mallard’s husband dies in a train wreck. Mrs. Mallard is sad but happy, more happy than a woman should be whose husband just died in a train wreck. That’s not the only twist in this short classic.
  5. Lady or the Tiger 2“The Lady or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton. A young man is sent to the arena where he must choose between two doors. One has a tiger behind it. One has a beautiful woman behind it. He turns to his lover in the stands who has the power to save his life, but does she?
  6. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. A crazy general gets bored with hunting animals, so he buys an island and hunts humans instead. His defeat of famous hunter Sanger Rainsford would be the ultimate hunting victory, but the general gets more than he bargains for.
  7. The Necklace“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. Madame Loisel borrows a necklace, loses it, works 10 years to pay it off, and gets a metaphorical punch in the gut when she comes across the jewel’s lender several years later.
  8. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London. Exactly what you would expect to happen happens as a man ventures out by himself in -75-degree weather.

A lot of these short stories with a twist have short film adaptations with a twist. Click on the movie category for reviews and a lesson plan.

As you can see, me learning how to make memes using PowerPoint has had a label maker effect on my life.


Here’s a whole bunch of lesson plans for teaching short stories with irony.

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