Education Technology

NCTE: Exploring the Short Story

Published on 07/19/2006

Activity Overview

Students use "The Oval Portrait" by Edgar Allen Poe to identify various elements of short stories, including character, plot, setting, tone, theme, and style. Students will identify literary devices Poe uses and discuss their effect on the story.

Before the Activity

See the attached Activity PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity.

Print the appropriate pages from the Activity for your class.

Install the LearningCheck(tm) App on the students' graphing calculators following the attached instructions.

Go over lesson objectives with students. Explain that Poe is revered for his short story writing abilities and that "The Oval Portrait," while very short, contains all of the elements of a short story and incorporates numerous literary devices that they will identify. Students should already be familiar with basic literary devices, including their identification and their effects.

During the Activity

  • Distribute the appropriate pages from the Activity to your class
  • Distribute the LearningCheck(tm) file(s) to your class using TI Connect(tm) and the appropriate TI Connectivity cable
  • Follow the procedures outlined in the Activity


  • Students will:
  • Identify literary elements in Poe's "The Oval Portrait."
  • Examine effects of various literary devices.
  • Determine how a person might write a similar story.
  • Write a collaborative short story that includes elements in common with Poe's "The Oval Portrait."
  • Demonstrate understanding of literary elements and devices and apply that understanding to students' own writing.
  • Identify and evaluate literary elements and devices in peer writing.
  • Compare student stories to Poe's "The Oval Portrait."
  • After the Activity

    Work with students to create a list of basic directions for someone to write a short story using "The Oval Portrait" as a model. Record the directions in TheShortStory.edc file, "Writing a Short Story." Include a very basic plotline and advice for literary devices that are effective.