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