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Ninth Literature and Composition Unit 4: Short Stories

Georgia Virtual Learning

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2014 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2014. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

The version reviewed was last updated: 2/2/2013.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Georgia Virtual Learning is part of the Georgia Department of Education. Existing OER resources are combined with created material into a structured course format. Though designed to take advantage of digital media, a print option is available to reproduce much of the content. This 9th Grade Lit/Comp online course was designed to align with the Georgia Performance Standards. This is one unit out of a 12 unit course. This should factor into the viewer’s analysis of the review results.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Revision needed (4.8)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 1.25, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 1.25, Instructional Supports: 1.0, Assessment: 1.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.5, Interactivity: 0.0, Exercises: 1.0, Deeper Learning: 1.0.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Moderate (2.5)

Comments/Ideal Use:

Since this is an online course, it could be used as a homework course for students who are studying this information in class as well. It is a virtual academy, so it is assumed that students could complete this course independently. Pieces of it could be used as teaching tools in classrooms however, as in the case of some of the online resources that could be shown to whole classrooms of students or used to demonstrate ideas such as plot.


  • Multiple uses of technology including interactive assignments to teach concepts
  • Quizzes included for students practice
  • Close activities to complete while reading
  • Rubrics included for final projects
  • Variety of writing projects. Multiple activities to review the material before final test
  • Variety of end projects to demonstrate knowledge of main topics taught throughout the unit
  • Summaries are included that break down each of the stories into their component parts to assist with review of material at the end


  • Tremendous number of vocabulary terms listed for mastery
  • No scoring rubrics evident. There are multiple writing assignments required but little specificity with regards to expectations or examples provided for student guidance


  • Add rubrics/examples for students so they have clear models and rubrics to assist them in successfully completing these assignments
  • Reduce the number of terms students are required to master for the final exam

Comments/Ideal Use:

In looking at the first page of the GVL Ninth Literature and Composition - Short Stories Unit, the document identifies the Georgia Performance Standards as the ones being addressed. They are not the same as the Common Core State Standards in Reading of Literary Texts at the 9-10 level. This is probably one reason that there is little alignment between the two as this unit was created for another purpose.

The short stories are of strong textual complexity and are rigorous. But other than some interesting background on Hawthorne and Poe, the Georgia Virtual Learning, Grade 9, Short Story Unit had little for a teacher to use in the areas of activities, instructional supports, assessments or essential questions that related the CCSS, grades 9-10. No text-dependent questions were available for the rigorous short stories (though there were some fill-in-the-blank ones). No vocabulary activities and no student models were available to complement the questions; no deeper level essential questions or big ideas were included. Overall, this was a unit that incorporated some great text choices, with the four classic short stories, but needs a lot of improvement to be in alignment with the Common Core Standards.


  • No vocabulary activities, no text-dependent questions, no student answers, and no examples were present to help scaffold the students' reading of archaic prose
  • No essential questions were posed that drew students into the deeper meanings of why the authors chose short stories as their genre or what purpose the author had in writing. Why did Poe focus on the unreliable narrator? What about his own life made his exigency so urgent? Why did Hawthorne change the spelling of his name in order to not be linked to his past and how does that relate to the story he is telling? How did they pave the way for writers of today? (There are many ways to engage students in high level thinking.)
  • No student writing process was identified to help with analysis of why these stories are still relevant and what they say about America even today


  • Add in the vocabulary activities, text-dependent questions and reading strategies that are vital for most ninth graders to be able to understand this type of prose.
  • Create essential questions that draw the student into why the author chose to use the short story to explain irony or suspense. What was Poe's exigency (the single effect)?
  • Include many authentic writing assignments such as reading other Poe or Hawthorne short stories and compare/contrast styles. Or take a literary element such as suspense and track its use through all stories and write a literary analysis essay using the writing process.
  • Take some essential questions and have students brainstorm the connections and conduct research and write literary analysis or informative essays using the writing process.

Comments/Ideal Use:

Students cover four short stories that are appropriate for 9th grade students: "The Most Dangerous Game," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Necklace," and "Young Goodman Brown." The unit, unfortunately, does not align to the CCSS as many of the tasks included defining terms, completing plot diagrams, journal writing, and character casting that do not use the CCSS as a basis for student activities and assessments. There is a focus on defining literary terms such as Irony, Symbolism, Allegory, and Personification. There are not enough text-dependent questions, close reading strategies, and writing skills students must complete in this unit.

Overall, the stories are great to cover with students, but the unit falls short in aligning the tasks and the Reading and Writing Common Core State Standards. A teacher may want to use the stories provided in this unit, but he/she would need to create text-depended questions and assessments for his/her students. The ideal scenario would be to use the short stories in a 9th grade general education English class. Teachers of all experience levels would be able to use the materials in the unit.


  • The assessments are not aligned to the CCSS. The grading criteria is more of a checklist for what to include in the final project.
  • Text-based questions - many of the formative assessment questions do not necessarily require students to use the text to answer.


  • Create assessments aligned to the CCSS.
  • Provide more text dependent questions along with possible answers for teachers.

Comments/Ideal Use:

This unit needs to be more precisely aligned with the Common Core Standards and it needs more rigorous application, more assessments, and more connections to other standards particularly the writing standards. As the way it stands it could be used as a supplement in grade 9, or as part of a unit for grade 6 or 7.


  • Because it relies on the Internet, there is a strong technical component to the unit, including having the correct Adobe Shockwave Player, and a subscription is needed to one site (the student will use the schools password, but needs to get instruction from the school tech to subscribe.) One link did not open; other links needed only one click to retrieve information. Slow computer can make the process tedious.
  • Alignment with the Common Core is not precise, nor seems to be its primary goal. This unit should be in grade 6 or 7.
  • Assessments are lacking. The unit test is a Matching Quiz and a Crossword puzzle. Quizzes during the unit are the responsibility of the teacher. There are no instructions about composition skills, or the sharing of on-line discussion board postings as a means to establish group endeavor.
  • Students who are either below or above the average are not attended to.


  • The lessons need to be more aligned with the CC Standards, and set as goals for the lessons. Students should be made aware of them as well.
  • Writing standards should be adopted to integrate learning and the standards.
  • Provide modeling, rubrics for each assignment, and scaffolding when needed.
  • Provide more detailed instructions and more examples of the terms to be learned.
  • Enrichment exercises, "extra credits" reading.

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.