Diverse short stories teaching pack

Last updated: 15/11/2023
Diverse short stories teaching pack
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Key stage
Includes answers
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Teaching pack

Diversify your KS3 English curriculum with 12 lessons on 6 brilliant short stories, from wonderful writers including Alex Wheatle, Langston Hughes, Dorothy Koomson, Bali Rai, Jeffrey Boakye and Kit de Waal.

Our KS3 short stories teaching pack celebrates the work of Black and Asian writers and the short story as a unique form of literature.

Introduce your students to a range of exciting literary voices they may not have encountered before with an engaging and inclusive scheme of learning, plus lesson plans and classroom resources.

The teaching pack includes stories by popular and award-winning writers of colour such as Alex Wheatle and Bali Rai, who write for young adults, as well as celebrated masters of the short story form such as Langston Hughes and Kit de Waal. 

Engaging and accessible for year 7, 8 and 9 readers, these powerful short stories have been specifically chosen to encourage more reading for pleasure and to be more representative and inclusive.

A complete scheme of learning for key stage 3

In this collection of six complete short stories, students will explore each writer’s craft, as well as how short story writers develop characters, use dialogue, and experiment with form and structure. They will learn how short story authors experiment with openings and endings.

Learners will understand more about how writers use a variety of narrative voices and perspectives, by looking at first-person confessional narratives and unreliable narrators, as well as third-person omniscient narration. They will also explore experimental flash fiction and the epistolary form, as well as longer stories.

To anticipate some of the most challenging GCSE exam skills, this KS3 teaching pack also includes comprehension tasks to build students' reading skills and confidence with unseen texts. You'll find a range of creative writing tasks to build students' fiction writing skills, as well as creative and speaking and listening activities. 

About the selected stories and authors

All the selected stories are written by Black British and British Asian authors, with the exception of the celebrated Black American short story writer, Langston Hughes, whose unforgettable 20th-century story, ‘Thank you, Ma’am’, also features in this anthology.

The other five stories are contemporary, 21st-century stories and include new writers such as Jeffrey Boakye. 

The settings range from New York in the 1950s to a science-fiction future world. Some of the stories have more familiar family or teenage contexts, but all share a focus on relationships and explore themes of race, identity and belonging, love and loss, and redemption.

The collection is divided into three groups for thematic teaching, allowing teachers to dip into the teaching pack to complement an existing scheme of learning, or to teach the stories as a complete short story anthology.

What's included in the teaching pack?

Written by two experienced English teachers, the teaching pack includes a detailed scheme of learning with lesson plans, teaching notes, differentiation suggestions and homework activities, as well as printable classroom resources.

The 109-page photocopiable teaching pack is student-facing for use in the classroom, and is accompanied by 12 PPT lessons for classroom delivery, and 6 complete short stories for reading in class. 

Each lesson includes: 

  • Do now activity
  • Starter activity
  • 3-4 main lesson activities
  • Plenary
  • Extension or homework tasks

Many of the activities are carefully scaffolded, with differentiated, ladder up support and sentence starters for writing tasks, as well as a range of stretch and challenge suggestions for early finishers and higher-attaining students.

The pack includes a lovely range of fun and creative tasks, as well as a focus on developing learners' reading comprehension and analytical writing skills. It also includes drama activities and engaging speaking and listening tasks to encourage lots of animated, on-topic classroom talk. 

There's also a list of diverse reading recommendations so teacher can encourage more reading for pleasure, and a word bank to help with disciplinary literacy and vocabulary development.

About the teaching pack authors:

Harmeet Matharu is a Head of English, author and examiner. She has taught for over twenty years and is passionate about diversity in literature, having written several resources and blogs about the subject and delivered nationwide training on this issue. She’s also a member of NATE's Diversity in English working group. 

Dr Cheryl Diane Parkinson is an English teacher, writer, poet and editor at BlackNewsUK. She has a PhD in Creative writing and an MA in Colonial and Post-colonial literature. Her debut YA novel is due to be published in 2023.

The teaching pack includes a foreword by Zahara Chowdhury, who is currently Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at a girls' grammar school. She is also the founder of the School Should Be blog and podcast, and an experienced former Head of English.

Short stories included in the teaching pack: 

  • ‘The Things We Ate’ by Kit de Waal (2019)
  • ‘Dear Nobody’ by Alex Wheatle (2019)
  • ‘Thank You, Ma’am’ by Langston Hughes (1958)
  • ‘Promise Me’ by Dorothy Koomson (2012)
  • ‘The Colour of Humanity’ by Bali Rai (2016)
  • ‘Into the Future’ by Jeffrey Boakye (2022)  

How to use this teaching pack:

Download the Zip folder for 12 complete PowerPoint lessons (with answers) for use in class. 

Download the accompanying Word document for a photocopiable pack of lesson activities and worksheets to use in lessons. 

Diverse anthology 

This teaching pack is designed to complement our KS3-4 Diverse anthology teaching pack, which celebrates the work of diverse poets, authors and non-fiction writers, and includes own voices articles, speeches, essays, memoirs, autobiographies, poems and YA fiction extracts to build students' confidence with unseen texts. 

Example lesson activities from the Diverse short stories teaching pack: 

Lesson 1

Do now: Skim reading 

Skim read the short story ‘The Things We Ate’. What do you think this story is about?

As you skim read the story, highlight any words you find powerful or intriguing, and underline any words you don’t know. Compare your ideas in pairs.

Stretch and challenge: Did you notice anything interesting about the narrative style of the story?

Starter: Create a food map 

In ‘The Things We Ate’, the writer Kit de Waal combines memories of food and childhood. Read the descriptions of food again.

Now turn the story face down and create a quick drawing of a table with all the food words you can remember from the story. If any words are repeated, add them more than once! 

What do you think food represents in the story?

Stretch and challenge: Is there anything interesting you notice about the way the writer describes food?

Activity 1: Reading comprehension

Complete the following questions, individually or in pairs:

1.  Read paragraph one again. Who do you think ‘she’ or ‘her’ is? Who might she be in relation to the narrator? What can you infer (deduce) from the text?

2.. What do you think ‘her factory bag’ is, and why do you think she has all this food in it? What might it tell us about the family?

3. Read paragraph 2 and 3 again. The writer, Kit de Waal, uses listing and repetition, which can help to emphasise a point or to show an excess of something. What does this listing tell us?

Activity 2: Exploring language and literary techniques

Kit de Waal’s story is experimental and an example of flash fiction (a deliberately short short story, under 500 words). It reads almost as if it is a stream of consciousness, revealing the thoughts and memories of the narrator. 

Working in group, each of you will take one paragraph (paragraphs 2-7) each and identify some of the techniques the writer uses. Create a quick poster or use sticky notes to record your group’s ideas.

These are some of the techniques you might notice in your paragraph:

  • Repetition
  • Listing
  • Elliptical (incomplete) sentences
  • Sensory or textural diction
  • Metaphors

You can see some example analysis on the PPT slide to help you

Activity 3: Writing skills 

In your group, write a paragraph about the language and literary techniques Kit de Waal uses in the paragraph of ‘The Things We Ate’ that your group analysed (paragraph 2-7).

Include quotations from the story to support your ideas. 


Summarise this story in 15 words.

Think of the themes of the story as well as the techniques the writer uses.


Add to the word bank with any words you’ve learnt from today’s lesson.

Diverse short stories teaching pack
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