It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Presented by: Little

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


After discussing the themes and ideas of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and exploring the style of the gothic horror genre, students will write their own short story. Students will also prepare and present a brief PowerPoint on the theme they wrote about. Stories will be proofread by peers and graded by peers. A panel will judge the stories based upon a rubric. The winning stories will be read aloud by the student at a “Scary stories told in the dark event.”


Goals & Objectives:




“The Birthmark” in Mosses from an Old Manse. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. A dark story in which a obsessive scientist seeks to remove an unsightly blemish from his wife’s cheek, his success comes at a high price.


Special Thanks to
Micheal Bolsoni,
Roger Everhart, and
Hillary Wackman,
of The School of Environmental Studies, Apple Valley, MN


-The students are brought into the library. The lights are turned down low as a model of the “Scary Stories to tell in the Dark Event.” The librarian reads aloud the short story “The Birthmark” By Nathaniel Hawthorne.

-Ask questions about the reading to generate thinking.

-Ask: What is the role of science? How do people understand that role?

-English teacher introduces the unit on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

-Within the classroom the students study the novel including:

·  Scientific discoveries of Shelley’s time

·  Shelley’s life and other influences

·  Themes in Frankenstein

·  Themes of other gothic horror

·  Modern retellings of Frankenstein

·  Writing gothic fiction

The above is accomplished using various teaching techniques including:

 -Students will also review and discuss story writing basics and writing style of gothic and horror books.

-Students are encouraged to read one other horror novel which the librarian will make available. These could include but are not limited to:

-The librarian will assist students in assembling a PowerPoint on a theme form the novel. Students will join the librarian in the computer lab. They should already have started the writing on their story and be ready to find material on the theme they are exploring. The librarian will review searching strategies and assist students as needed.

-When the first draft is due the students will separated into groups of 3-4 students. Each student will bring three copies with name removed of their story. Groups will hand papers to the teacher/librarian who will randomly distribute stories to other groups. Each student will read, proofread and offer suggestions on three pieces of writing. Groups will discuss aloud each of the three pieces.

-Students papers will be returned to them and they will be given time to edit and revise the story with attention to their classmates suggestions.

-Students will bring in a final version of their paper with name removed. Students will be given a rubric to grade three other student’s papers. High scoring papers will be then be read by every student in the section; the top story in the class will be chosen.

-On the final presentation day, all students will gather for the students whose writing was chosen to read aloud their writing. On that day the lights can be turned down low and perhaps popcorn could be served, and parents invited.



Each student will produce an original creative narrative based on classic gothic horror fiction. The story must include one philosophical theme or element based upon those found in the novels read and include historical details of place and time. A PowerPoint consisting of a 4-6 slides will be created highlighting and discussing the theme they choose to write on.