Use Life of Walter Mitty.’ After reading the

Use this lesson plan to guide your instruction of James Thurber’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.’ After reading the short story, students will read a summary of the short story and write their own stream of consciousness story.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize James Thurber’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • create a piece of stream of consciousness writing


60-90 minutes

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Curriculum Standards


Analyze how complex characters (e.g.

, those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.



Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.


  • Paper copies of James Thurber’s short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (available online at no cost)
  • Paper copies of the text lesson The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Short Story Summary
  • Access to a shared viewing device
  • Paper copies of the quiz


  • Begin the lesson by asking students to make a bullet list of everything they have done so far today. Once complete, have them set this list aside for later.

  • Distribute copies of James Thurber’s short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, one per student.
  • Have students read the story aloud by paragraph, interjecting when appropriate to explain a tough vocabulary word or unfamiliar concept.
  • On a shared viewing device or projection, watch with students the video lesson Stream of Consciousness in Literature: Definition ; Examples.

    If your class has already learned about stream of consciousness writing, review key points of the genre and perhaps use the lesson’s quiz to review the most important points.

  • Distribute the text lesson The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Short Story Summary. Ask for student volunteers to read the text lesson out loud one section at a time.
  • After reading the summary of the story, hold a whole-class discussion using the following prompts:
    • What is unique about this story?
    • How does Walter Mitty’s day-to-day life work into the story?
    • How is this story a good example of stream of consciousness writing?


  • Students will now apply some of what they have learned to their own writing.

    Referring back to the list they made at the beginning of the lesson, students will write a narrative using the following writing prompt:

    • Write a narrative of your day so far with fantastical interjections akin to Walter Mitty’s. Be sure to include each activity you listed at the beginning of the lesson.
  • When students’ stories are complete, have student volunteers read their stories aloud.
  • As an exit ticket, students can take the associated quiz.

Related Lessons

  • Short Stories: Definition, Characteristics ; Examples
  • Analyzing the American Short Story: Techniques and Examples

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