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If you’re looking for a fun and engaging way to help your students improve their reading comprehension skills, look no further than the A Retrieved Reformation Short Story Unit!


This complete unit will help guide your students through O. Henry’s classic short story. Through a variety of activities and discussions, your students will be engaged in thinking beyond the text – making connections, questioning, and inferring.

This unit is perfect for whole class or small group instruction. However, it could easily be adapted for independent or enrichment work. No matter how you use it, your students are sure to benefit from this thorough and engaging unit!


  • Author Study – At the beginning of the activity is a short paragraph that is intended to introduce the student to the author.


  • Pre-reading activity – A pre-reading quick write will help set the tone for students to engage in Hearts and Hands.


  • Stop N Jot – This is a fabulous activity that helps keep students focused on the reading. Students stop reading, think about what they’ve read and then jot down the main ideas, questions, thoughts and feeling they had as they read.


  • Vocabulary Words – Eight words from the story have been selected for further study.


  • Plot Diagram – To continue building on literacy skills, a plot diagram is included. This could be used as an extension activity, whole class activity or independent work depending on the level of understanding your students have.


  • Questions – There are 4 higher level questions that require students to demonstrate their understanding of the story, demonstrate an ability to predict what happens next, and analyze specific aspects of the story and title.


  • Newspaper Article – An after reading writing assignment is included. Student directions and template. Just print and go!

An answer key is included for portions of the reading guide as appropriate. Activities that encourage creative and critical thinking will not have an answer key as more than one answer is appropriate.

All Middle School Café Short Story units are designed to help educators get the most out of each story and encourage students to engage in critical thinking. Reading guides are appropriate for both middle school and high school.

*** A Retrieved Reformation is part of the public domain. A PDF version of the story is included in this product.