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Special Collection: Top Stories for Teaching Author’s Craft

Our top stories, videos, lesson plans, and activities for exploring author's craft

Mountain of Doom

A fascinating nonfiction article explores the terrifying and historic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The article is paired with an interview with author Lauren Tarshis.

Writing techniques explored in this teaching package: setting, mood, point of view, word choice, simile, metaphor, imagery, onomatopoeia 

Read the Paired Texts
Lesson Plan
A step-by-step guide
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Behind the Scenes Video
Tarshis takes your students on her research journey.
Watch
Writing Planner
Students analyze author's craft, then write their own story.
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Killer Smog

In 1952, the deadliest environmental disaster in England’s history changed our ideas about the air we breathe. It's paired with an article about smog in Beijing.

Writing techniques explored in this teaching package: mood, sensory details, word choice, imagery

Read the Article
Lesson Plan
A step-by-step guide
Download
Behind the Scenes Video
Author Lauren Tarshis discusses her writing techniques.
Watch
Discussion Questions
Answer these questions after reading the articles and watching the video.
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The Interlopers

Based on the classic story by Saki.

Writing techniques explored in this teaching package: situational irony, symbolism, tone, mood, character development

Read the Play
Video: Is It Ironic?
A fun, interactive take on situation irony
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Exploring Mood
Students analyze the mood of Scene 4.
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Character Thinking Tool
Analyzing the main characters
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The Message

A ship in deep space. A mysterious warning. And a choice that will change everything.

Writing techniques explored in this teaching package: setting, text structure, character development

Read the Story
Making Inferences
Students use clues from the text to make inferences.
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Genre Exploration
Exploring what makes the story science fiction
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Writing Planner: What Happened?
Student plan an essay analyzing the ending.
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The Monkey’s Paw

This delightfully creepy play, based on the classic horror story by W.W. Jacobs, is paired with an informational text about how to make wishes come true.

Writing techniques explored in this teaching package: mood, character, text structure, inference, setting, dialogue

Read the Play
Video: What’s the Mood?
A delightful and interactive approach to mood.
Watch
Lesson Plan
A step-by-step guide
Download
Genre Exploration
Students explore what makes the drama horror.
Download

Advice for Eighth Grade

A delightful poem by Jennifer Dignan about learning from our experiences. 

Writing techniques explored in this teaching package: stanza, rhythm, word choice, pattern, expression

Read the Poem
Author Read Aloud
Don't miss the special challenge at the end!
Watch
Analyzing Poetry
Students analyze Dignan’s poem.
Download
Writing Planner
Students write their own poem using Dignan’s as a model.
Download

Mountain of Doom: Gary Hanna; Killer Smog: Gary Hanna; The Interlopers: Randy Pollak; The Message: Shane Rebenschied; The Monkey’s Paw: Gary Hanna; Advice for Eighth Grade: Alex Nabaum