The Shape of Stories

In the next two weeks  we will be reading and examining a series of short stories, and discussing the ‘shape’ of short stories – their plots.


Many of you are probably familiar with a simplified version of Freytag’s Pyramid :middle-school-plot-diagram (1)

plot-shape-conflict-2-638However, while this is an easy way to remember the typical form of plot progression in Western storytelling, it is not completely accurate. Not all, not most, stories follow this plot progress. Stories have their own ‘shape’ – and the more interesting the plot of the story, the more interesting the shape.

Listen to amazing short story writer Kurt Vonnegut explain the ‘shape of stories’ by clicking the link below.

Click here to listen to Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘The Shape of Stories’.

Vonnegut explains that stories are much more complex that the typical Freytag’s Pyramid.


Think of movies you’ve watched – what type of ‘shape’ did the plot create? Think about tv shows – each episode has its own plot, and then all the episodes in a season create a larger plot as well.


As we read through the short stories in this unit I want you to consider the ‘shape’ of these stories. You will need to keep track of them – and decide which ‘shape’ make for the most interesting story.

Also remember that we’re looking at the shape of Western stories (stories from American or Europe) – stories from other cultures in Asian and the Middle East follow a much different plot structure. Stories in Asian culture are often told in a cyclical or spiral manner:




If you’ve ever watched an Asian movie or tv show (Dragon Ball Z) and felt like so much information was being repeated, or that the story took a really long time to ‘get going’, it was probably because their storytelling structure is so different from ours.

Some modern storytellers and movie-makers like Christopher Nolan are trying to use new and interesting plot structures – if you’ve seen these movies and have been confused about what’s happen, that’s probably why!

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10th Grade Literature Spring 2018

Conducting Research – Determining the Reliability of Sources

As we being our unit on World Literature, you will be deciding which culture you would like to research and explore in your groups. You will also need to brainstorm six questions about this culture or literature you would like to find the answers to.

Once you have decided which culture’s literature you’re focusing on, and have determine which set of questions you want to research the answers to, you will need to make sure you use only RELIABLE SOURCES!

Remember, reliable sources are those that can be trusted to provide unbiased, factual information. Reliable sources include .org, .gov or .edu websites, books, news organizations, educational journals or publications.

Unreliable sources cannot be trusted for accuracy or for an unbiased perspective. Unreliable sources include Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, any .net or .com website, blogs, editorials from newspapers, or forums.

Click here to view the worksheet from class on reliable vs unreliable sources.

Remember, if you have a hard time determine if a source is reliable or not, you can always ask us to check it with you!

You will need to gather information from reliable sources to answer the questions you’ve selected from above, and be sure to paste the information in your GoogleDocs. You will need to use this information throughout the week to write an extended essay response, so please save your research!

10th Grade Literature Spring 2018

Translating the Poetry of Sappho

For the past two days we have been examining the lyric poetry of Ancient Greece, and are focusing our attention on one poem in particular by the female poet Sappho. We discussed literary devices you should be looking for in poetry (see the Unit 1 Vocabulary post for the list) and now you are ready to begin analyzing poetry!

In class we looked at an original version of the poem in Greek script, in Roman script and Greek Language, and then two translations of the poem into English. The first translation is from the 1870’s, which means the diction you will find in it is a little ‘old fashioned’. The final translations of the poem is in a modern version, which should be much easier to read!

Click here to read the four versions of the Sappho Love Poem

Remember, you should be identifying the devices listed below for each poem, and explaining the elements in Part 2 on a separate piece of paper. Everything you needs for this analysis should be in your notes over Ancient Greek Poets and vocabulary.


Over the next few days you will read and analyze these poems in class and on your own, before writing your own translation of Sappho’s poem!

Click here for the assignment sheet over ‘Writing Your Own Sapphic Poem’.


10th Grade Literature Spring 2018

R.A.C.E. Method,Constructed Response, and Citing Textual Evidence

Today in class we reviewed how to answer constructed response questions – a skill you started building last year in 9th grade. As you work on answering the constructed response questions over Cupid and Psyche’ the next two days, be sure to refer to the notes from class and the helpful rubrics and worksheets you were given.

RACE thumbnail


You can also refer to the example we did in class below – this is the answer to question one from your assignment: “Why is Venus so jealous of Psyche? Does it make sense for the goddess of love and beauty to be jealous? Why or why not?”



Remember, I will be using the same rubric that will be used on your 11th Grade EOC Test next year to grade your constructed responses – Its never too early to start preparing!

Click here to access the constructed response rubric I will be using to grade these assignments with.

Click here to access the constructed response questions over Cupid and Psyche if you lost your sheet from class.

Remember, when citing textual evidence you have three steps to follow.

  • First, be sure to include a signal phrase. This is a phrase, in your own words, that will lead into the quote. For example:  Cupid refused to let Psyche see his face, saying “I would rather you love me as I am that as a god” (Coolidge 223).
  • Next, you need to quote directly from the text, and put quotation marks around the text. For example: Cupid refused to let Psyche see his face, saying “I would rather you love me as I am that as a god” (Coolidge 223).
  • Finally, you need to list the authors last name and the page number in parenthesis after the quote, and then end with a period. For example: Cupid refused to let Psyche see his face, saying “I would rather you love me as I am that as a god” (Coolidge 223). 

Follow these steps and you’ll have citing textual evidence down perfectly!

10th Grade Literature Spring 2018

Cupid and Psyche and La Belle et La Bete – Close Reading

Students – the past few days we have been reading and examining the Ancient Greek story of Cupid and Psyche in class. Below you will find some of the notes we took together  -use them to add to your own notes or help you study. You will be completing an analysis of The Hero’s Journey in “Cupid and Psyche” in class this week and answering a series of constructed response questions about the story – make sure you are taking notes and studying each night for your first Unit Test!



Click here to read the story of Cupid and Psyche

You will also look at how Ancient Greek literature has influenced literature around the world – all the way to present day. To do this you will be looking at a classic French story, La Belle et La Bete, and comparing the two. You will notice that this French story is the basis for the modern version of Beauty and the Beast that many of you are familiar with!

Beauty and the Beast

10th Grade Literature Spring 2018

Making Connections and Predictions – The Story of Prometheus

Students – today in class we read the story of Prometheus’ Creation of Man and The Coming Evil.  We also practiced how to make connections and prediction with our easy ‘Connection and Predictions’ chart. This is a skill you will need to build, as it will DEFINITELY come in handy throughout the semester – we will be reading stories from many different cultures, and being about to make connections to similar texts will help you understand and analyse the new texts more quickly.

Attached below you will find the ‘Connections and Predictions’ chart from class –











Use this chart with the following story, making connections between the Ancient Greek story ‘The Great Flood’ and the Biblical story of ‘Noah’s Ark’.

Click on the link below to access the Word document of the story –

Prometheus – The Great Flood

10th Grade Literature Spring 2018

Introducing Ancient Greek Literature and The Hero’s Journey

classical-greece-map-gr2Today in class we began out unit on Ancient Greek Literature and will be examining how these stories and tropes from Ancient Greece continue to impact our modern storytelling, language and culture.

Below you will find a link to the powerpoint over Ancient Greek culture and its importance that we reviewed today in class. Remember, understanding historical and cultural context is an important part of this course as we read literature from the past and cultures that are vastly different from our own.

Click here to download the powerpoint over Ancient Greek Culture and Literature.

We also had a lengthy discussion over the use of archetypes in literature.

Click here to open the interactive Prezi presentation over archetypes that we reviewed in class.

Finally, we also covered The Hero’s Journey in class today – a concept you should have studied in 9th Grade Literature during your reading of The Odyssey. Below you will find a link to the video explaining the different steps of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey that we took notes from, as well as a visual aid showing the steps of the Hero’s Journey. Remember, you will have a short quiz over this on Friday, January 7th!


10th Grade Literature 9th Grade Literature Fall 2016 Spring 2018