Home » Language Arts » Short Stories to use with Notice and Note Signposts: Part 3

Short Stories to use with Notice and Note Signposts: Part 3

Because I had many twitter friends ask for this, I am posting a portion of a transcript I sent to a friend about the short stories I used to practice finding the Signposts in Notice and Note as promised.

I teach at an all-girls school so many of the stories have a female protagonist. Because of this, I am giving you lists of short stories that I found on other websites as well. I used many of them when I taught at a co-ed public school.

I love stories by O’Henry, Saki, and Guy de Maupassant. I also enjoy using sci-fi short stories with middle schoolers.

Even though I only teach girls now, I could see the signposts being a huge benefit to teaching boys as well because they are so much more concrete. Also, any short story has signposts in it, so find the stories you like the best to use in class.

Here is how I organized the first several weeks of school:

  • I reviewed the literary elements of Setting, Plot, Characterization, Conflict, and Theme.
  • We applied these literary elements to our study of the summer reading novel, Surviving the Applewhites.
  • Then, I introduced the signposts one at a time using a story that we walked through together. I read it aloud and they identified signposts as I read then we discussed. I used Beers and Probt’s lesson for Thank You Ma’am as my guide. For your reference, I have listed this story as the first one underneath the signpost.
  • Then, I gave them a story in which to identify signposts independently. You will see that the same story is listed in a couple of different categories. In that case, it is because I had them identity both of those signposts in the story.
  • We also reviewed all of the literary elements in the short stories.
  • You will also see that there are less stories under each category as we progressed. This is because the girls were understanding the signposts so well that they said it felt redundant to do the identification twice so I bumped it down.
  • Finally, I showed the Pixar shorts and they found signposts, plus we focused on the literary elements I specified in each one. I did this for a parent visiting day lesson and it was a big hit.
  • Now, we are reading a novel and as they read they are identifying the signposts. I printed up bookmarks for them with the signposts on them that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers. They actually cheered when I handed them out and they say it really helps.


The stories I used:

(NOTE: we have copies of a book by Jamestown Publishers called Best Short Stories: Introductory Level that included many of these stories. I have put an asterisk next to those titles. Many of them are available online as well.)

Contrast and Contradictions:

Thank You Ma’am by Langston Hughes

* Catch the Moon by Judith Ortiz Cofer

All-American Slurp by Lensey Namioka

A-Ha Moment:

*The Richer, The Poorer by Dorothy West

All-American Slurp by Lensey Namioka

Charles by Shirley Jackson

The Landlady by Roald Dahl (we read later for Halloween, but they found signposts)

Tough Questions:

*President Cleveland, Where Are You? by Robert Cormier

Words From the Wiser:

*Tuesday of the Other June by Norma Fox Mazer

 Again and Again:

Charles by Shirley Jackson

Eleven by Sandra Cisneros


All Signposts and Literary Elements: (I used this as a assessment of the signposts. I might not do that again next year. I will probably make it a group activity because the story confused a few of them.)

*Lob’s Girl by Joan Aiken

Great Short Stories recommended by other websites:




I would LOVE it if any of you would add your titles to this list in the comments. Thanks so much.


14 thoughts on “Short Stories to use with Notice and Note Signposts: Part 3

  1. Hi! Thank you for posting all those great short stories. I also use “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury and “The Medicine Bag” by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve to demonstrate Words from the Wiser.


  2. A&A: “Reunion” by John Cheever, MM: “Wants” by Grace Paley, TQ: “Hills Like White Elephants” Hemingway; CC “Say Yes” by Tobias Wolff. Will teach AM and WW in novel context, not short story. Used “A&P” and Tuesdays w/ Morrie. Not effective enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used “Love” by William Maxwell for a review of the again and again signpost. My 8th grade students were having the greatest difficulty understanding that signpost. This story is great because it is short, can be found online, and chock full of language that students can go back and make sense of–the flower imagery, funeral imagery. I have a ton of insights that I have collected over several years and this story never fails to provide lots of fodder for their brains!


  4. I used the story “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” by Isaac Asimov for Again and Again. Even struggling sixth graders pick up on how often water and weather are mentioned. By the end of the story, they realize how instrumental the foreshadowing involving water was to the plot of the story. The fact that it’s a fun story is a plus, too!


  5. Thanks for the suggestions.

    With 6th graders, I used the picture book “The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson for Again and Again. It worked well.


  6. I’ve used “Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin for Contrasts and Contradictions. It also has a memory moment in it that I used to introduce the signpost. Then we read “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” for Memory Moments. It also has some Tough Questions in it that I used to introduce that signpost. Then we read “By the Waters of Babylon” by Binet for Tough Questions. It has an Aha Moment in it for intro purposes. Looking now for a good Aha Moment to continue the lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been teaching the Sign Posts for several years now. I’m always up for new texts, so this was a wonderful, refreshing post.In my 6-8 grade classes, I use “Born Bad” from House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros as a mentor text for the entire 6 sign posts. This story allows me to keep going back to it and demonstrate true close reading while they discover models of each sign post. I plan to use some of these other short stories for independent practice. Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I also use:

    A + A: , Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde, Death of a Government Clerk by Chekhov

    C+C: Chapter 4 of I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson, Chapter 2 of Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    W of W: Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye, Cleaning the Well by Paul Ruffin

    Aha: Chapter 4 I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You this (there are more than one chapters that work from this book)


  9. This is a great post! Just taking a course on Notice and Note, and these additions to the bibliography are helpful! Can you tell me which Pixar Shorts you use? Thanks in advance!

    Also, I plan to use “Birthday Party,” for contrasts and contradictions, and the chapter, “Library,” from Home of the Brave for contrasts and contradictions and memory moment.


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