A Veteran's Day Story Face-off: "Flowers for Algernon" versus "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Courtesy of: Image source: https://www.knoxvillechristianschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Veterans_Day_Dogtags.jpg
Courtesy of: Image source: https://www.knoxvillechristianschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Veterans_Day_Dogtags.jpg

On this fifteenth Veteran’s Day of the new millennium, we took time to pay respect to those who have served in our armed forces through a picture-based writing prompt and our classroom playlist.  The students were asked to look at the image above and write their thoughts, whatever those might be, for the length of two complete songs.  The writings that were shared showed that my middle-schoolers have a lot more reverence and understanding of holidays such as today than one might ordinarily think.

The students and I then worked to finish what we had started yesterday.  We pit Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” against Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” to see which was the better of the two stories.  How can you evaluate these two divergent texts that only share their first-person points of view in common? Based on the work we did yesterday, the students followed my example and created the remaining cells of a rubric.  I then chose the best-written ones and used those (almost verbatim) to construct our giant, in-class story rubric.


The students then worked individually to evaluate each story based upon the rubric.  Next, they worked together with their tablemates to average the point values they awarded each story.  We then collected all of that data to come up with a class average score for each based upon the table-by-table averages.  In the end, Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” won due to its variance in writing style and its more interesting and more fully-developed characters.


The students then finished class with their 10-question reading comprehension quiz on “The Tell-Tale Heart” to the soundtrack of the following patriotically-themed songs:

  • “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel
  • “America the Beautiful” by Whitney Houston
  • “Proud to be an American” by Beyonce’
  • “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus
  • “Southern State of Mind” by Darius Rucker


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Work on any Genius Hour.


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