Teaching Conflict with Short Stories

In today’s episode of the Teaching ELA Podcast, I discuss several short stories with a focus on conflict: “The Most Dangerous Game,” “To Build a Fire,” “The Monkey’s Paw,” “Through the Tunnel,” and “Harrison Bergeron.” I’ve got an emergency lesson plan you can get on the board right now involving conflict.

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  1. Everyone can connect with conflict. Use the 2-minute lesson plan involving conflict and point of view to help students internalize literature.
  2. Although most stories involve multiple types of conflict, I’ve given you exemplary texts for teaching the five major types of conflict.
  3. Teaching the skill of citing textual evidence to support analysis makes teaching all other standards either no longer necessary or easier to teach.

Links and Resources

  1. Conflict Lesson Plans/Handouts
  2. “To Build A Fire” by Jack London at elacommoncorelessonplans.com
  3. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs at elacommoncorelessonplans.com
  4. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connel at elacommoncorelessonplans.com
  5. “Through the Tunnel” by Doris Lessing at elacommoncorelessonplans.com
  6. Short Stories for Teaching Conflict at elacommoncorelessonplans.com

2-Minute Lesson Plan

Conflict: I can cite textual evidence to analyze conflict. The purpose here is to help students understand how conflict drives everything in regards to short story plot. You may want to cover the different types of conflict.

Discuss the primary types of conflict in literature: (1) person v person; (2) individual v self; (3) person v supernatural; (4) person v nature; (5) individual v society.

  1. Draw two boxes on the board – vertically stacked
  2. In one box, write a type of conflict in the story you’ve chosen to read. In another box, write another type of conflict in the story you’re about to read.
  3. Instruct students to write about a personal experience (1st person point of view) involving the two types of conflict you wrote in the boxes.
  4. Read a story of your choice, perhaps one of the stories we talk about in this podcast.
  5. Instruct students to summarize the conflict from the story.

That’s an entire 53-minute or more lesson plan that took you 2 minutes to prepare. Since you’re an actual licensed teacher with a degree and everything, feel free to modify it for your class.

The One Thing

Remember our one reading standard that we focus on here at the Teaching ELA Podcast: I can cite textual evidence to support literary analysis.

Let’s take a look at career ready standards you can get from the lessons I showcase at elacommoncorelessonplans.com and the one lesson I’m about to share with you.

Citing the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. leads students to determining a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, and leads students to analyzing how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision. 

Remember you don’t actually have to teach all this. You just need to teach the one skill of citing textual evidence to support analysis.

And of course, if you can do this with literary text you can easily adapt the skill to informational texts and students who are able to master this skill will learn how to better write and organize complex ideas for their writing.

And all of these skills carry over into other subjects.

In other words, when students master how to cite textual evidence with a purpose, everything else becomes either no longer necessary or easier to teach.

So what does mastery of this skill look like.

We all teach that conflict is a clash between opposing forces. Here are the levels of learning in regards to teaching imagery.

  1. Define conflict and identify the primary types of conflict: You can teach a monkey to recite a definition. It’s simple memorization. It is necessary for mastery but does not come close to achieving it.
  2. Identify conflict: You’d have trouble teaching a monkey to identify a conflict in a story (unless it’s a really smart monkey). Simply identifying it, however, has no practical application outside of a classroom. It is not mastery.
  3. Analyze details that contribute to the conflict and how the conflict drives plot, theme, characterization, etc: Now we’re at the standard and at least approaching mastery. Students who can do this are using critical thinking skills, skills that can be applied outside of the classroom.
  4. Use conflict in their own writing or speaking: Students who can use conflict to develop points in their own writing or speaking have clearly mastered the standard–and many others.

Last Updated on September 20, 2021 by Trenton Lorcher

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