Secondary ELA Seasonal Blog Hop: A Spooky Story Three Ways



In high school we don’t dress up for Halloween or have class parties, but we can still make connections to the season and have fun.  This week I’m joining The Creative Classroom and other fabulous secondary teachers in a seasonal blog hop to share how I teach my favorite spooky story. 

Since my primary prep is American Literature, Washington Irving's story, "The Devil and Tom Walker," is a relevant classic to incorporate into my instruction.  The reading level is accessible to most students and Irving builds supsense to keep them interested in the story. 

In the story, the greedy Tom Walker makes a deal with the devil for money.  Even though the story is set in 1727, the theme about the desire for material wealth is certainly applicable today.  It’s also an excellent story for teaching literary elements including characterization, foreshadowing, irony, and allusion.

This year, I’m using the story to give my students practice with narrative writing and prepare them for their upcoming PARCC assessment.  For years, I’ve neglected creative writing in my instruction, but the narrative writing prompt gives me a new opportunity to let students use their imaginations.  In two weeks, my students will read the story and write a new ending in which they will tell what happens to Walker after he’s taken by the devil.  This prompt, of course, could lead to some wildly fantastic tales, so I’ve developed some tools to guide students in the right direction.  You can access this free resource here.



In the past, I have used the story to make interdisciplinaryconnections and surprised students with math activities in their English class! Since Tom Walker is a “usurer,” I’ve used the story to help teach students about interest rates on student and car loans, and credit cards.  My high school students appreciate the application to “real life.” 


In another lesson, I’ve made nonfiction connections to the story with an article from The New York Times which explores the culture of greed on Wall Street.  This lesson guides students through close readings of the texts and ends with students choosing from a variety of nine activities for their final assessment.  Activities range from researching topics such as the financial crisis of 2008 or the Faustian legend, to interviewing family about how they handle their finances and budgets, to writing a diary entry from an imaginary person living during the era of the The Great Depression.

Do you teach scary stories?  Tell us about them in the comments below.

Find other great blog posts for Halloween in secondary ELA below.

8 comments

  1. What a great real-life connection with this story and the Wall Street article. I'll be checking this out for sure. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your real-world connections with this story are ingenious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Literary Sherri! That's a wonderful compliment.

      Delete
  3. I love the real-world, interdisciplinary connections. Sneaking personal finance into their day in a way they're not likely to forget.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish someone had taught me more about personal finance, so I try to find connections when I can.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for sharing such awesome and relevant tips on incorporating real world connections and narrative writing. I love that you mentioned the need for creative writing. I too feel like it gets pushed to the back burner often, but it is an essential skill set that students need time to practice and refine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm always looking for non-fiction connections. Thanks for the great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a timely short story. Awesome ideas!

    ReplyDelete

Back to Top