How to Incorporate Short Stories and Poetry into Weekly Lessons in Middle School

Adding a Reading Literature Journal to Your Instruction

Sometimes, as English/Literature teachers, we have a hard time making room for short stories in our instruction. There is a focus on novels and longer texts. However, it is a very important skill that students need an opportunity to practice. So, today I am going to talk a bit about incorporating short stories and poems into your instruction by using a Reading Literature Journal.

First, What is in the Journal?

This Reading Literature Journal consists of 33 high-quality short stories and poems. For each, there are comprehension, annotation and higher-order thinking activities that will allow students to apply their reading literature skills. There are also mini-projects and extension ideas, so that students can challenge themselves and work at a higher level. (Plus, they cover an array of Bloom’s Taxonomy levels).

As you can see, students will be required to think critically about each text. They will be using a variety of ELA skills and strategies. They may be required to annotate the texts, answer questions, complete a checklist of tasks or create something of their own to fit project requirements.

How to Use the Journal

There are several ways to incorporate this journal in your classroom. Everything is included, so you can simply print and go.

  • OPTION ONE: Give students their journal at the beginning of the school year or semester.  Assign one short story or poem each week/biweekly (there are 3 texts per “month”). They will work through all 33 works by the end of the semester.
  • OPTION TWO: Assign the different short stories or poems at your leisure. Instead of created the entire journal, print and distribute the poems as you assign them. This allows for more choice in which short stories/poems are assigned, when they are to be completed and how they are collected.
  • OPTION THREE: Three words– EMERGENCY SUB PLANS!!! These are great for a quick lesson if you have to miss a day.
  • OPTION FOUR: Use these activities as extra practice or reinforcement for struggling or advanced students. They can be completed with a small-group, as partners or even as additional practice.
  • OPTION FIVE: If you are a proponent of homework OR a flipped classroom atmosphere– assign the stories and poems for homework and complete the activities during the class period.


There are activities for each of the following short stories/poems:
The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl
After Twenty Years by O. Henry
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
O Captain! My Captain! By Walt Whitman
A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury
Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye
Marigolds by Eugenia W. Collier
Aunt Misery by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
Seventh Grade by Gary Soto
The Treasure of Lemon Brown by Walter Dean Myers
Hearts and Hands by O. Henry
How to Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam
Charles by Shirley Jackson
Miss Awful by Arthur Cavanaugh
This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce
Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost
The Moustache by Robert Cormier
The Landlady by Roald Dahl
Oranges by Gary Soto
The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov
All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury
Mother to Son by Langston Hughes
The Sniper by Liam O’Flaherty

This Reading Literature Journal is the perfect addition to your middle school ELA class. They are simple to prepare, easy to grade and require students to really dig deep into texts! Students will be challenged, will think critically and will be applying skills from each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, Create). If you think this is a good fit for your students, or want to know more information, click here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Welcome! My name is Brittany Jeltema, also known as The SuperHERO Teacher, and I am a curriculum designer and classroom flipper. I have a strong passion for helping teachers reach as many students as possible through creativity, engagement, and empowerment!

Find It Fast