To my surprise, after teaching math for 4 years, I was asked if I would join the English department at my high school. My principal and team leader were impressed that I had published books and wanted me to bring my expertise in writing to my teaching.


I enjoy teaching English far more than I expected. My feedback can be more personal. Class writing warm ups can be about their weekends. I can let students write about zombies and lava monsters and ghosts and kidnappings. I can talk about books and authors and call it part of class time. I can read classics and say I’m lesson planning. Ha!

I have been teaching English Language Arts for over a year now and have taught a full unit (8 weeks) on stories in several of my classes. This is (unsurprisingly) my favorite unit.

For their final story, I had my learners answer these questions to plan their story.

Plan your story! Think about

  • your characters (who)
  • your setting (where and when)
  • your plot (what happens)

Answer the following questions:

  1. What does your main character want most in your story?

  2. What is going to get in his/her way?

  3. What is he/she willing to do in order to get what he/she wants?

  4. What/who is preventing your character from getting what he/she wants?

    1. If a person, who and why?
    2. If their situation, what caused it?
    3. If nature, what makes it unpredictable?
  5. What would the consequences be if your character fails?

  6. How will you hook your reader at the beginning? What emotion will you use? (Shock, curiosity, adventure, etc.)

  7. How and where will you foreshadow the ending?

  8. What is the ending?

I knew that a huge part of story planning was deciding what a character wants, what gets in their way, and then what the character is willing to do about it. With this formula, my students churned out rather impressive short stories. (If you knew how reluctant some of these were to writing anything, you’d be even more impressed.)

I’ve included the file here for your enjoyment (and so I can get Amazon to offer the ebook for free.)

Our stories – fall 2019

My students gave me these stories to put online. If I hear from more of them this week (even though the quarter has ended), I’ll add their stories to the file too.

Teaching Stories

One thought on “Teaching Stories

  • October 18, 2019 at 00:02

    Cool. Glad you got to teach English, Denae! They seem like fun stories your class produced.

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