Short Stories and Novellas


Course Length: Full academic year (30 weeks)
This Year's ScheduleClick here to view

Aims of the Course

The main aims of this course are to introduce students to short stories from a wide range of authors, from classics from Somerset Maugham, O Henry, Bierce, and DH Lawrence, to modern authors such as Bradbury, Helen Dunmore, Kazuo Ishiguro and Penelope Lively to name a few.

Short stories offer a bite size way of exploring a marvellous range of genre and classic authors. They are engaging, offering an open door to highly crafted texts, so students can jump right into the nuts and bolts of great literature and develop valuable skills in close reading  before they are asked to perform close readings in the (much larger) space of a novel. Their length is great for building confidence. Short stories are also great family reads.

The length of the works means lessons can be scaffolded to support students with specific learning needs, or those who find longer text overwhelming at this stage. They are short enough to encourage re-reading and mastery of the text. 

Homework Expectations

As in all the English courses at Dreaming Spiresthe homework each week is to read one short story, or manageable section of a longer story. From this they will write a short summary, answer one discussion question based on a selected passage, and attend a one-hour webinar where, mostly, the tutor talks on the mic and students type in the chatbox. Twice a year, they will be assigned presentations to take over some of the teaching.

Add-On Options

For the add-on writing extension, students have an additional 1/2-hour webinar and generally an extra 2 hours per week on homework as we focus on building reading and writing skills for a solid foundation in English language and literature study. It makes use of the texts we read in the main course, and offers specific introductions to many forms of transactional writing. These include how to identify key facts for summary writing as well as choices one makes to produce journals, reports, interviews, magazine articles, and descriptive writing - all are types of texts that can be found on the Cambridge IGCSE while being quite sensible writing styles for everyday living, too.

How It Supports Your Child's Education

Short Stories and Novellas is envisioned as an introductory course for new Dreaming Spires students, and is particularly useful for those under 13 or those who may need extra support in their learning journey. It will create invaluable foundations in mature reading skills, critical thinking, and written expression whether a student is following a UK or US pathway for their education. 

Who Teaches Short Stories and Novellas?

Jenny Wells holds a degree in History of Art and English from the University of York, and an MA from the Open University. She home educated her children, and has been teaching History of Art and English GCSE and A Levels at an independent Oxford sixth form college for over twelve years, including being an A level examiner for History of Art. She has a special interest in teaching and encouraging students with specific learning needs.
See all courses taught by Jenny