How Old Holly Came To Be


  • ELAGSE9-10RL4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone.)
  • ELAGSE9-10RL5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Learning Target: I will analyze the short story “How Old Holly Came To Be,” considering the author’s choices of words and text structure, determining how these things cumulatively shape the meaning of the story.

Activator: This is the author of the short story we’re going to read today, Patrick Rothfuss, reading an excerpt from his novel, The Wise Man’s Fear. The novel is set in the same world as the short story we’re going to read today.

Work Session: Welcome to Wednesday! Today we’re starting a run of 4 stand-alone lessons on short stories. Each of these days we will have an assignment, and if you do the assignment and turn it in, I’ll kill a 0 in the gradebook for you. On that note, each of these days will focus on different standards, so those will correlate to the zeroes I replace.

SO! Let’s get started on day 1! This first story is called “How Old Holly Came To Be” by Patrick Rothfuss. The story is fantasy, but it reads similarly to the mythology or traditional Biblical stories we’ve read in class. This story is set in the same universe as The Name of the Wind (we did a book talk about that one, remember?) and The Wise Man’s Fear (from today’s daily video). Fortunately, however, you don’t need to be familiar with the world to understand the story. We will read it together as a class.

After our reading, I have a chart and a set of questions for you all to answer. You’ll have until the end of class to work on these, and then we will come back together as a class and discuss.


  1. Examine all the parts of the story that are considered “good,” “bad,” “both,” or “neither.” List them on the chart below, along with the paragraph where the story says that. Keep in mind that some things may appear more than once, and may change category as the story goes on. (DOK1)
Category Good Bad Both Neither
Element from the story Example: Warm sun (1)
  1. Who is the protagonist of the story? What makes them the protagonist? (DOK2)
  1. Who is the antagonist of the story? What makes them the antagonist? (DOK2)
  1. What is the tone of this story? How does the tone change from the beginning of the story to the end? Why do you think the author chose to shift the tone that way? (DOK3)
  1. Why do you think the author chose to structure the story how he did? Does the story remind you of any other stories you’ve read? (DOK3)
  1. Look in our textbook on p. 38: “Genesis 1-3: The Creation and the Fall.” Read this story and write a paragraph analyzing the similarities and differences in the stories. What is the tone of each? Who are the protagonist and antagonist in each? Do you think that the author of “Old Holly” was inspired by “Genesis 1-3”? (DOK4)

Closing Session:  Let’s discuss as a class: What things on the chart moved around? Why do you think they changed? What was the “turning point” in the story where things moved from one column to another?

Assessment: Questions and chart will be used to remediate a previous grade.

Differentiation: Learning style (auditory, visual); process (annotated text)

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