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Teacher Lesson Return to "Keepin’ the Faith"
Keepin’ the Faith
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Keepin’ the Faith: Can’t I be Gay and a Christian?


Story Summary: The writer of the first story details his inner conflict between his religious beliefs and sexual orientation.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students reflect on their sense of self and identity.
• Students are able to empathize with other youths’ experiences.
• Students engage in a wide range of prewriting experiences, such as using a variety of visual representations to express personal, social, and cultural connections and insights (CCLS W.11.a).
• Students will read, annotate, and analyze informational text on topics related to diverse and non-traditional cultures and viewpoints (CCLS R.9.a).

Before Reading the Story (10 min)
This opening activity will activate background knowledge to boost reading comprehension and set the emotional tone for the story.

1. Introduce Freewriting by explaining that students will have four minutes to respond to a prompt in writing. The goal is to express their thoughts freely without worrying about writing conventions. The expectation is that everyone writes, without stopping, for the full time. (Note: writing lists and/or drawing are modifications that support diverse learners.)

2. Freewrite prompt: Inner conflict occurs when you are confronted with a problem that presents difficult choices. It can feel like being torn between opposing demands, and struggling to know what the right decision is. Choose one of the two prompts below to reflect on an experience with inner conflict:
• “Think of a time when you felt you had to hide a part of who you are in order to be accepted. What was the situation? How did you feel? What was the effect on your personal relationships?”
• “Think of a time when you questioned or challenged a belief held deeply by your family. What was the situation? How did you feel? What was the effect on your family relationships?”

3. Partner Share directions: Students should select a partner and/or turn to the person next to them. Facing each other, and practicing active listening, partners each take a turn sharing their responses to the freewrite prompt. Each speaker will have two minutes to talk and is in charge of what they choose to share from their writing. The listener does not need to respond, but should thank the speaker for sharing. After two minutes, direct partners to switch roles.

4. Volunteer Share directions: Returning to the whole group, ask for volunteers to share their responses to how inner conflict felt and what its effect on their personal relationships was.

During Reading (15 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

(Note: Before starting to read, draw a Venn Diagram on the board like this:)

1. Introduce the story “Keepin’ the Faith” (see the summary above).

2. Share the expectations for a group read aloud; volunteers take turns reading aloud as much or as little as they would like. As the teacher, you may stop periodically to discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Reading for a purpose directions: Half of the room is going to read for and underline examples in the text of the writer’s experience of being gay/questioning. The other half of the room is going to read for and underline examples of the writer’s parents’ beliefs about being gay.

4. Pause periodically to check in and ask for some examples of what students have underlined. Write them in the matching circle of the Venn diagram, leaving the center blank.

After Reading the Story (15 min)
During this post-reading activity students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Gather more text-based examples for the Venn Diagram from each side of the room. Check with the group to see that each perspective is fully and accurately captured.

2. Ask the group to look closely at the Venn Diagram. Discuss these questions:
• “The middle usually represents what the two halves have in common. Is there anything we can write in the middle that bridges the writer’s experiences and the parents’ views?” (There will be nothing, or very little).
• “How would you describe the writer’s inner conflict?” Look for examples in the text that describe his feelings.
• “What advice would you give the parents? The writer?”

During Reading (15 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

1. Introduce the story “The Changing Relationship Between Christianity and Gay People".

2. Reading for a purpose directions: In this interview with Reverend Danielsen-Morales, let’s read for new perspectives he offers that could help to bridge the differences between the writer’s experiences and his parents’ views. Underline these examples in the text.

After Reading the Story (20 min)
During this post-reading activity students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Going back to the Venn Diagram, add to the middle examples of (possible) common ground and connections you just underlined in the text.

2. After the Venn Diagram is complete and you have discussed it for understanding, transition the students to an independent writing activity.

3. Dear Teen Writer directions: Have students write a letter to the writer of “Keepin’ the Faith,” by Anonymous. Provide the following structure for the letter (to support diverse learners you may draft sentence stems to guide the flow of the letter):
• Look back on and paraphrase the writer’s inner conflict.
• Demonstrate empathy and/or make a personal connection.
• Based on the Reverend’s advice in the middle of the Venn Diagram, offer some advice to the writer that can help him to resolve his inner conflict.

4. Share the letters as time allows.

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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2014-11-03)

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