Before reading O. Henry's "After Twenty Years" with my seventh graders, I had them write a letter to themselves in the future. They had to tell what was going on in their lives now, make some guesses about what their lives would be like in the future (ex. I guess you're married now), and finally give themselves some advice. I found a cool website www.futureme.org where you can type in a letter, your email address, and choose a date to have the letter delivered in the future. While I didn't require my students to do this, I did tell them about it. Many of them were very excited about this! I gave them the option of sealing the letter and keeping up with it for twenty years (Ha ha! Even though, some can't keep up with their pencil for a day!) or typing the letter into the futureme website so that it could be delivered in the future. It was a good introduction for the story, as it lead into a discussion about how time can change not only situations but also people. We followed it up with a vocabulary preview. During the story, we completed a dramatic readers' theater and took a look at the author's use of imagery, foreshadowing, and irony. The kids loved the surprise ending of this story! We are going to read O. Henry's "Hearts and Hands" next.
By the way, you're welcome to print my "After Twenty Years" lesson plans preview for free. If you would like to have all of the handouts I used, you can purchase the entire unit for only $5 and use it every year!
Thanks for reading!