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short story unit 10th grade

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short story unit 10th grade

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Eugenia's Learning Tools

Short Stories - Unit Bundle

Peacock Poet

Creative Narrative Writing Sample Grades 4-5 (From the Complete Guide Resource)

Performing in Education

English 9 Lesson Plans: One Year of Lesson Plans and Activities

Language Arts Classroom

SDAIE Short Story Unit for 9th/10th Grade ELA - California State Standards

Urban Education Solutions

Flat Stanley Literature Unit with activities

Flat Stanley Literature Unit with activities

Joshua ducharme

Primary Picture Prompts for Writing and Speaking-SAMPLE

One Room Schoolhouse

Mars Patel Podcast Season 1: Episode 01 Questions


Frog and Toad are Friends Unit Sample

What's The Buzz In First

1st-3rd grade Flat Stanley Thematic Unit

Short Story Unit Study (High School)

Short Story Unit Study (High School)

KA Cummins

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow- Adapted Text Version (Short Story Study)

Caramel Apple Teacher

Death By Scrabble: By Charlie Fish

A Perfect Five

Creative Responses to Short Stories

Mx Clement-Thorne

Personal Narrative Writing Sample Grades 4-5 (From the Complete Guide Resource)

AP Literature Unit Overview: Short Fiction I

AP Literature Unit Overview: Short Fiction I

Secondary ELA with Ms Will

Also included in:  AP Literature NEW CED Unit Plan & Activities for Short Fiction I

Kate Chopin: "The Story of an Hour" Full Text

Kate Chopin: "The Story of an Hour" Full Text

Electric English

Women in Literature: Short Story Unit

Shauna Ratapu

The Yellow Wallpaper Lesson Plan

Melissa Pinto

Edgar Allan Poe: "The Fall of the House of Usher" Full Text

Plot Unit Plan: The Most Dangerous Game

Plot Unit Plan: The Most Dangerous Game


Mark Twain: "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" Full Text

Stephen Crane: "The Snake" Full Text

Stephen Crane: "The Snake" Full Text

Washington Irving: "The Devil and Tom Walker" Full Text

Washington Irving: "The Devil and Tom Walker" Full Text

Fiction: Short Story - Exam ELA 20

Fiction: Short Story - Exam ELA 20

Charlene Medema

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Mud and Ink Teaching

Unit Makeover:  The Short Story Unit in Secondary ELA

Unit Makeover: The Short Story Unit in Secondary ELA

When is the last time you sat down for a meal where your server recommended a very specific bottle of wine to match the meal you were considering on the menu?  The perfect Argentinian Malbec to compliment the perfect marbled ribeye.  And when is the last time you tasted that symphony of flavors?  The melting, fatty salt of the meat on your tongue is followed by the gentle swirl of the deep red wine just after.

Maybe you’re a vegetarian and ready to never come back here and read another article from me again, and I understand (this is not the first time that I’ve used a metaphor about meat.  Hmmm…), but if you’re willing to hear me out, here it is:

Disjointed experiences are fine, but intentionally, purposefully blended ones are so much more memorable .

This is precisely how I feel about unit planning and especially the notoriously predictable plan that every English teacher since the dawn of time seems to design:  UNIT 1 - SHORT STORIES.

short story unit 10th grade


The idea for this unit seems logical on paper:  start the year with some shorter texts to warm back up, review everything students need to know for the year coming up, and presto!  Ready to take on the year.  But after experiencing this myself and talking to hundreds of other teachers, there are a few notable problems:

PROBLEM 1: Lack of connection

Short stories don’t naturally connect to one another just because they are short stories. So when we begin these units thinking about the skill review component, we are often blindsided as the unit is in progress feeling like it’s clunky and lacks flow. Without the feeling of connection, these units can be difficult to navigate in terms of pacing and engagement.

PROBLEM 2:  Lack of representation

The most commonly anthologized stores also tend to be Euro-centric, male-authored stories.  We have a responsibility to do better for our students and to have their own voices, stories, backgrounds, and experiences represented and included in everything we do.  This means branching outside of the short stories most frequently recommended by text book companies and doing some of our own research to find new, fresh voices.

PROBLEM 3:  Lack of variety

One teacher wrote to me saying: “I do run into trouble when I try to use short stories that are available on CommonLit. When I've tried to use them in the past--some are amazing short stories, like "The Landlady" and "The Intepolers"--the kids complain that they've already read them! UGH”

Does this sound familiar?  Since starting the year this way is so popular and databases like CommonLit have come around, teachers sometimes find themselves going to the same places for ideas and then repeating stories.  

PROBLEM 4:   Trying to cover too many skills

Sometimes the nebulous goal of “reviewing literary terms” stretches student focus too thin.  Attempting to use one single unit to cover a dozen or more terms ends up giving us more attention to breadth rather than depth.

need for inclusion and diversity in short story units

Specific EQ Unit & Text Set Pairings:

To solve many of these problems with the traditional short story unit, I recommend implementing an Essential Question to drive the unit. Short stories need to be contextualized, and using an Essential Question connects the dots and creates meaning. The art of writing an essential question takes into consideration three key components:  text(s), themes, and skills.  Essential questions should drive genuine curiosity and be exciting for students to explore, discuss, debate, and return to throughout the year.  

Below, I’ve drafted a few examples of EQs that could theoretically be used at the start of a school year. You’ll notice a few things:

The question anchors the unit.  From introducing the question to assessment, the question is the driving force that connects all texts and activities.

Instead of teaching short stories and a variety of random literary terms, the unit is cohesively driven by a more narrow focus.

The EQ gives direction for the unit without being prescriptive.  The suggestions I have here are flexible and adaptable to different grade and difficulty levels.

In each of the example units below, I’ve provided a mixture of the most commonly used short stories that you may have from anthologies or prescription curriculums blended with new ideas, short film, music, and other genres to further address the complexity of the EQ. Be sure to check out Episode 107 of the Brave New Teaching Podcast to see how this method was applied in Marie’s class!

short story unit 10th grade

Here are a few example ideas to get started:

Example #1:  connected by a skill/standard.

Unit 1:   Is conflict more likely to make our lives better or worse?

Skill Focus: The shape and arc of stories

Plot diagram components (with emphasis on conflict)

Exposition, inciting incident, rising actions, climax, falling actions, resolution

Vonnegut’s The Shape of Stories

Internal VS External Conflict

Three classical types of conflict:  “man vs man”, “man vs. nature”, “man vs himself”

“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

Buzz Lightyear Internal Conflict - You are Just a Toy:  Scene 1 & Scene 2

“Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets” by Jack Finney

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Leguin

All American on Netflix Episode 1


Skill Focus:  Cold Read & Written response based on conflict

EQ Focus:  Synthesis argument writing answering the EQ (utilize personal experience and texts from the unit to answer EQ)

short story unit 10th grade

Example #2:  Connected by genre

Unit 1:   To what extent does gothic fiction reveal the human condition?

Skill Focus: The elements of gothic fiction

Author’s use of tension

Author’s use of tone/mood

“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

Excerpt from Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno Garcia

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

Various scenes from The Phantom of the Opera

Luella Miller by Mary Wilkins Freeman


Skill Focus:  A project-based assignment where students analyze the connection between tension, mood and setting (a recreated scene and written analysis; a living tableau; an artistic interpretation)

EQ Focus:  A literary analysis writing that hones in on one of the stories and the gothic elements that reveal the human condition

Need to teach plot elements?

plot diagram templates

Example #3:  Connected by another genre

Unit 1:   How does dystopian fiction use the present to predict the dangers of the future?

Skill Focus: The elements of dystopian fiction

Characteristics of a dystopian protagonist

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (Chapter 1)

“The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin

“There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut

“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin

Skill Focus:  Cold Read & Write:  How does the author’s use of genre elements / setting / imagery / use of tone/mood in order to warn about the dangers of the future?

EQ Focus:  Research project:  select a present problem and predict the dystopian future to come from this issue

Example #4:  Connected by a theme

Unit 1:   Which is more impactful in a child’s coming of age:  the influence of family or the physical environment around them?

Skill Focus: Elements of coming of age genre

Characterization (direct & indirect)

Where the Crawdads Sing (Chapter 1 excerpt)

“Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Huges

“Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros

“All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury 

“The Hawk” by Jules Chung

Skill Focus:  One Pager - Choose one character to place at the center.  Surrounding the character, add evidence of coming-of-age moments, setting, etc. that have influenced their development

EQ Focus:  Synthesis Argumentative essay responding to the EQ using the short stories from the unit

Example #5: Short Stories Reimagined in Fairy Tales

In episode 107 of the Brave New Teaching Podcast, I chat with my cohost Marie Morris about the process of tackling a unit makeover with short stories. Listen in to see how we resolved so many of the problems (at the top of this post) and built a Fairy Tale Unit that completely revamped the level of engagement while still tackling all of the skills that mattered the most.

No matter how you tackle your unit makeover, consider the power of that Essential Question to give the context your unit needs. I’d love to hear how you tackled your own makeover, so be sure to leave a comment below!


These units are packed up and ready to teach! They are seamlessly aligned with a juicy Essential Question, supplemental texts, and plenty of templates to use in tandem with whatever short stories or novels you have on hand. Check them out right here!

short story unit 10th grade


An Introduction to Dystopia.png


short story unit 10th grade

Short Story Unit Ideas for Secondary ELA

Short story unit teaching ideas for secondary ELA #shortstories #middleschoolela

A short story unit is the perfect way to begin a school year. Short stories are quick and applicable to so many learning standards. Yet, they are versatile, so you can really incorporate them whenever and however you want. People often debate which short stories should be taught at which grade levels. There is no clear right or wrong answer for that question.

The answer is fuzzy because not everyone uses a textbook. Not all schools within a district use the same textbook series. We just don’t know which stories students will have already read when they enter our classroom. For this reason, I try to be flexible. In this post, I’m sharing the stories I’ve used most commonly at the ninth grade level and what standards I cover with them.


Begin by establishing a purpose..

What is your purpose for reading short stories? If your answer is “because it’s in the curriculum map,” “because students like them,” or “because it’s what I’ve always done,” it might be time to re-evaluate.   When teaching short stories, always establish and learning objectives and identify related standards first.  What do you want students to be able to do before, during, or after reading the story?

Collect student evidence.

Before reading, I suggest giving students a pre-assessment so that you can accurately assess current understanding and track progress. Pre-assessments don’t always give me valuable information about specific students, but they do sometimes help me to see a bigger picture of what the entire class might need. They point out misconceptions I might not have anticipated.

Model reading skills for literature.

I suggest modeling and discussing reading skills with one whole class study of a short story.  Students are often adept at basic comprehension level skills. They probably don’t need for us to model types of conflict, for example. Instead, older students can gain insight when a teacher models how to analyze the way a character’s motivation impacts the story’s conflict.

This approach works well in readers workshop or other student-centered classroom formats. Teachers can easily move from guided practice in whole class or small group format to more of an individualized learning approach.

Give students choice.

Give students choice to work with partners or small groups for a second round. This freedom allows students to select stories they enjoy while also providing us with data we can use to reassess understanding. It’s difficult for students to demonstrate mastery of skills when we are leading the discussion and guiding them to the “correct” answers.

Some teachers are uncomfortable with giving students complete freedom. That’s understandable, especially if you are used to running a tight ship. Simply allowing students to choose what story they’d like to practice a particular skill with is a good start. If you’re feeling ambitious, try allowing students to select the skill they feel they need help with the most. This approach works best when teachers have already modeled expectations and examples and students have had some time to dabble with them.

When offering choice with short stories, it’s a good idea to have texts available that represent the variety of reading levels in your class.

Reflect, reassess, and reteach (if necessary).

As we ask students to respond independently or with small groups, we should analyze their performance and adjust instruction to meet students’ needs. Providing small group or independent work time frees us up to provide support for small groups of students.

Read about short stories for high school, standards to cover, and a possible teaching approach. #highschoolela #shortstoryunit


These are some of the standards I cover with short story units along with texts that I’ve enjoyed sharing with high school students.

Character Motive and Inferences (RL.1)

MENTOR TEXT:  “The Scarlet Ibis”by James Hurst is a great story for teaching students to make inferences and analyze textual details.


You can ask students to record specific passages and their inferential or analytical responses to those passages as they read and reflect. Simply model expectations with the mentor text and require that they demonstrate that same skill level when working on their choice text.

Graphic organizer for analyzing characters

Plot Analysis and Objective Summaries (RL.2)

I find it’s easiest to ask students to objectively summarize a text that has a clear plot and conflict. Short stories work well because there aren’t usually many subplots to complicate the work. In order to write an objective summary of a fictional text, students need to be able to recognize the plot.

MENTOR TEXT: “The Interlopers” is an easy story to use to model plot analysis and summary writing.

Plot graphic organizer; digital analysis graphic organizers

Development of Theme (RL.3)

What short story isn’t good for analyzing theme, really? These are some of my favorites.

MENTOR TEXT:  “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry is not just for the holidays.

short story unit 10th grade

Author’s Craft (RL.4)

I try to select texts that have interesting word choice and tone when teaching author’s craft. Figurative language and sentence structure are also traits to consider.

MENTOR TEXT:  “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl is good for examining sentence structure, tone, and word choice. Plus, this text contains a plethora of imagery and description.

Reading guide for any short story

Text Structure (RL.5)

When analyzing text structure, it helps to use short stories that have suspense, obvious pacing techniques, flashbacks, and tension.

MENTOR TEXT:  “The Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury

Those are some of my favorite texts and approaches for a high school short story unit. These same teaching ideas can be used in middle school classrooms, but the texts may need to be altered depending on the reading levels and maturity of your students. Do you have a favorite short story to teach? What is your purpose for including it in your curriculum? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

If you’d like a more comprehensive picture of what I teach at the beginning of the school year, you might want to read this post about my first nine weeks ELA curriculum .

My friend Lauralee teaches short stories, too. Her approach is slightly different. Read about her   short story lesson plans  if you want more inspiration.


Use these teaching resources to differentiate and support student choice in your classroom. Model first. Provide options second. Graphic organizers and reading guides are good for scaffolding students’ understanding. These tools can be used with any short story.

short story unit 10th grade

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Melissa Kruse

An avid reader and writer, I've had the privilege of teaching English for over a decade and am now an instructional coach. I have degrees in English, Curriculum & Instruction, and Reading as well as a reading specialist certification. In my free time, I enjoy loving on my kids, deconstructing sentences, analyzing literature, making learning fun, working out, and drinking a good cup of coffee.

First Quarter ELA Curriculum Guide

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English with Mrs. Jones

The pen is mightier than the sword., grade 10 short story unit, short story unit.

The Tiger’s Heart.pdf

Plot Graph – On your own!

Please watch the following video.  For The Birds   – Pixar Animation

On the plot graph you received in class, identify the

1.  Opening Events: setting, characters (antagonist, protagonist)

2.  Initial Problem (Inciting Incident)

3. Conflict

4. Rising Action

6.  Falling Action

7. Resolution

You may watch this video as many times as needed:

Theme and Mood

Create Slim-Jim Notes for this assignment.

short story unit 10th grade

Short Stories – studied in class:

Priscilla and the Wimps

The Most Dangerous Game RAP


The Sniper  (RAP)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Never- Interactive Reading Guide  Podcast Reading

The Tell Tale Heart

The Monkey’s Paw

The Necklace



CommonLit 360 Secondary "Coming of Age": A Short Story Unit from CommonLit's 360 Curriculum that is Perfect for the Beginning of 10th Grade

Olivia Franklin

Olivia Franklin

A screenshot of the 10th Grade Unit One Unit Guide on a laptop underneath a CommonLit 360 Curriculum logo.

This ELA Unit includes high-interest short stories about growing up from contemporary authors like Jason Reynolds and Lucy Tan that’ll hook your students.

What is commonlit 360.

CommonLit 360 is a free English Language Arts curriculum for grades 6-12 that includes content-rich units and compelling texts. Each fully-built out unit integrates reading, writing, listening, and speaking lessons. It is easy for teachers to use, with clear facilitation tips, actionable assessments, and ready-made tools to support differentiation.    

Why Unit 1 Is Perfect for Back to School

The first unit in 10th grade contains short stories in which teenage protagonists face life-altering realizations about the adult world as they come of age. Students will love reading stories from popular authors like Jason Reynolds that feature protagonists with diverse experiences and backgrounds that they can relate to. Students will incorporate their life experiences and opinions to reflect on what it means to come of age and how people become adults. This unit bridges the gap between literature and reality, as students learn what it means to grow up as they grow up themselves.

The Core Texts in This Unit

A screenshot of the "Eraser Tattoo" text on

These compelling and engaging texts allow students to consider the experiences and events that lead people from childhood to adulthood. There are also three informational texts in the unit that provide meaningful background knowledge for the texts, including letters from Americans reflecting on how President Kennedy’s assassination impacted them and a text about the pivotal events that contribute to coming-of-age .

In addition, this unit includes five supplemental texts in English and three supplemental texts in Spanish. The supplemental texts cover topics such as differences in coming of age across different cultures, a psychologist’s perspective on growing up too soon , and a short story that takes place during the Great Migration, in which the main character encounters discrimination . These supplemental texts can deepen students’ understanding of the core concepts in this unit.

How Unit 1 Drives Student Success

The Essential Question in this unit is: “What experiences lead us from childhood into adulthood?” In this unit, students will practice reading skills such as analyzing the themes within a text, the complexities of characters, and how the author structures a text to create particular effects. Students practice their argumentative and expository writing, with lessons on introducing evidence with context, blending quotations into context, and writing engaging introductions.

After reading each short story, students will be asked how the author develops the theme in the story. For example, after reading “Eraser Tattoo,” students are asked: “How does the symbol of Dante’s scar develop the theme?”  After reading “Growing Up: Key Moments,” students will be asked if they agree with the author’s claim about the transition from childhood to adulthood.

As students near the end of the unit, they’ll take part in a class discussion, answering the question: “How is growing up in today’s society similar to and different from what characters experience in this unit’s texts? What unique burdens, challenges, and advantages exist for us?”  

The end of the unit essay asks students to: “Write an essay in which you explain your perspective on what it means to come of age and how we become adults. Use evidence from multiple unit texts and your own experiences to support your argument.”

The Related Media Exploration will ask students to engage with a video called “3 Benefits of Taking Risks,” and have students discuss the risks taken and benefits reaped in the short stories “Safety of Numbers” and “Through the Tunnel.” Students will also watch a video called “Why the brain has an evolutionary advantage,” and discuss why teenagers are more likely to take risks than adults. Finally, students will watch a video about the power of peer relationships on risk-taking before writing about if risk-taking is a necessary part of growing up.

A screenshot of the Related Media Exploration slideshow on a tablet.

Additionally, the unit also includes:

How Unit 1 Drives Teacher Success

CommonLit 360 provides a wealth of tools that will make the beginning of the year a breeze. Each comprehensive unit is set up for teachers and includes everything from fully-fleshed out lesson plans to vocabulary quizzes to discussion prompts and more. If your school purchases our School Essentials PRO package , you can access our Professional Development Portal . These self-paced tutorials are specifically designed to help teachers utilize all CommonLit 360 has to offer in their classroom.

Additionally, digital grading and feedback tools, interactive reading and writing lessons, and data tracking can save you hours previously spent on planning and grading. Working within contract hours will no longer be an unattainable pipe dream, and you can use the extra time to continue to focus on relationship building in your classroom.

Sign up for a CommonLit 360 webinar to get a comprehensive overview of how the curriculum works and how to use the digital platform.

Interested in gaining access to live and on-demand professional development that will help your team take full advantage of CommonLit 360?

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Discover CommonLit's new features, receive teacher tips, get actionable lesson recommendations, and more!

Samantha in Secondary

10 Best Short Stories for High School English Class

May 30, 2022 by Samantha H.

Finding the best short stories for high school English class can be difficult, but it’s definitely a worthy pursuit. I totally believe that high school English classes need more short stories, not less. Short stories are the best compromise with my reluctant readers, and I’ve yet to find an ELA standard that I couldn’t cover with a short story. Short stories are perfect for covering a variety of topics if you are pressed for time, and they are great for digging deep into singular topics if you’re looking for variety. Read on for some of my favorite works and learn how I use them in my ELA classroom below.


#1: “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury

I almost always start any short story unit with “The Veldt”. It’s a Ray Bradbury classic. This work focuses on letting children be raised by technology. Students certainly have strong opinions about the topic. Parents, George and Lydia, have a wonderful automated home – including a virtual entertainment nursery that their children Peter and Wendy spend most of their time in. When some of their fantasies turn disturbing, George and Lydia go so far as to decide they will move to the country and abandon the house entirely. The twisted ending is enough to keep this in the “best of’ list. Students are ALWAYS shocked by the ending.

I love this short story as a literary element review. I start with it to show students that short stories can be interesting and have a lot of depth, but this one in particular tends to be very easy to point out literary elements. I have a great literary element review activity that you can use for this story right here . It is definitely one of the best short stories for high school you will be able to find.


#2: “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury

This story follows a single night in the life of Leonard Mead in 2053. I find it highly telling to discuss Bradbury’s premonitions about the future of our society’s dependence on technology and its effects. It’s a great example of a strong man vs. technology conflict. You can also discuss what “authority” or “majority” think about those who stand out from the crowd and are nonconformers. You can find activities for this short story here . 

Ray Bradbury’s writing is full of intriguing plot lines, ties to technology and science fiction, and focuses on strong themes. If you’re looking for insight on why Bradbury is still a relevant author to your secondary ELA classrooms, read my input and suggestions here .  He’s one of my favorite “classic” storytellers that I still include year after year.


#3: “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

This short story follows young husband and wife, Della and Jim, and their quest to find each other the perfect gift. I love this classic. It’s so wholesome, and a great story for around the holidays or before a break when you aren’t quite ready to start a whole new unit. The theme is strong and it’s a great reminder for anyone. I have a bundle of activities that are ready to go and easily modified to fit the timeframe you are working under. Before, during, and after reading activities are all available, as well as a quiz and children’s book activity. The book activity is a PERFECT day before holiday break activity. Students can even use the template to share with their families as a gift if they’d like.


#4: “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier

This is a story about moments we lose our innocence or learn we’re leaving our childhood. This story is a reflection for the narrator, remembering her childhood during the Great Depression. Your high school students can reflect on their own childhood, moments they realized they were dealing with “grown up” issues, or felt like the innocence of childhood was over. This touching story is also available in my store with a variety of activities to choose from. “Marigolds” is certainly one of the best short stories for high school.


#5: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is a classic short story that has been read by high school students for generations. The story is set in a small town where the residents hold an annual lottery to determine who will be sacrificed to ensure a good harvest. Although the story is fiction, it contains many elements that are relevant to real life. For example, the theme of mob mentality is something that everyone can relate to. Additionally, the story highlights the dangers of blindly following tradition. As a result, The Lottery is a thought-provoking story that can encourage high school students to question the status quo and think for themselves.

This is the type of short story that stays with you long after you’ve read. Students love this one and it creates great discussions. The ending is both morbid and insightful. Your students will love digging into this one.

#6: “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst

The Scarlet Ibis is a novel by James Hurst that tells the story of two brothers who are very different from each other. One brother, Doodle, is born with a heart condition and is not expected to live very long. The other brother, no larger than Doodle and just as frail, strives to make his brother stronger. This heart-warming story not only teaches the importance of family, but also highlights the power of determination and perseverance. High school students can relate to the challenges that the brothers face, and they will be inspired by the lengths to which the older brother goes to ensure Doodle’s survival. The Scarlet Ibis is a novel that will stay with readers long after they have finished it.

#7: “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Black Cat” is a perfect choice for high school students. For one thing, it’s a quick read—perfect for when you’re short on time. But don’t let its brevity fool you; “The Black Cat” is a complex and intricately crafted tale of guilt, madness, and revenge. Poe masterfully builds suspense throughout the story, leaving readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. What’s more, the story provides valuable insights into the dark side of human nature. Through the narrator’s downward spiral into madness, Poe shows how easily good people can be driven to horrific acts by their own demons. In today’s world, where mass shootings and hate crimes seem to be all too common, “The Black Cat” serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of remaining aware of our darkest impulses. For all these reasons, high school students would be wise to give this classic story a try.

Any of Poe’s short stories rank under the best short stories for high school. If you’re studying Edgar Allan Poe, I have a great research organizer to help your students learn more about him, plus an entire blog post with more activity ideas.


#8: “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

The most dangerous game is a thrilling tale of survival and suspense. Set on a remote island, the story follows the hunt for a human prey by a ruthless hunter. While the novel may seem like a simple tale of good versus evil, it is actually much more complex. The most dangerous game raises important questions about morality, justice, and the nature of violence. As such, it is an excellent choice for high school students who are looking for something more than just entertainment value. In addition to being a great story, the most dangerous game can help to foster critical thinking and discussion among students.

I can clearly remember the first time I read this story myself. It was one of the stories that intrigued me enough to consider that maybe there were books out there worth reading. It’s such a formative memory in my reading history that I can remember it clearly. Short stories can be so powerful in that way. I truly believe your students will love this one.

#9: “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes

High school students should read “Thank You, Ma’am” because it is a relatable story with an important message. The story is about a young boy who tries to steal a woman’s purse, but she ends up teaching him a lesson about respect and compassion. Although the story is set in the past, the themes are still relevant today. Students can learn a lot from the characters in the story, and they will be able to relate to the challenges that they face. In addition, the story is beautifully written and it has a powerful ending that will stay with readers long after they finish reading it. This is truly one of the best short stories for high school English class.

#10: “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty

The Sniper is a classic war story that has been thrilling readers for generations. The story follows a sniper as he tries to survive during the Irish Civil War. It is an excellent example of the human capacity for endurance and courage in the face of impossible odds. As such, it is an inspiring read for high school students who may be facing their own challenges. The story also highlights the importance of quick thinking and resourcefulness, both of which are valuable skills for students to develop. In addition, the Sniper provides a realistic and harrowing look at the horrors of war, making it an important read for any student who is interested in history or current events. Overall, The Sniper is a timeless tale that is well worth reading for high school students.

I really love combining short stories into their own unit. If you want to mix classics with contemporary into a seamless unit, look no further than my Short Story Unit . It’s flexible and thorough and offers many of the titles you see above. 


Happy teaching!

short story unit 10th grade

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short story unit 10th grade


  1. Short Story Unit: Lit Terms

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