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Teacher Lesson Return to "I’m Not You, Mom"
I’m Not You, Mom
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
I’m Not You, Mom


Story Summary: When her mother starts working late, Isela must babysit her brothers, cook, clean, and maintain her good grades. She becomes overwhelmed, but her mom is not sympathetic.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will practice how to seek and offer help when needed.
• Students will gain empathy for other youth’s experiences.
• Students will use textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly and through inferences (CCLS R.1).
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).

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 worry about writing conventions. The expectation is that everyone writes, without stopping, for the full time. (Note: writing lists and/or drawing with labels are modifications that support diverse learners.)

2. Share the following quote from the story (posted up): “This is just temporary; life isn’t always going to be like this. Stay strong.”

3. Freewrite prompt: “Think about what this quote means to you and connections you can make to your own life. For example, has this advice been true for you and helped you get through a hard time? Do you have a friend or family member who could use this advice?”

4. Pair 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. After two minutes, direct partners to switch roles. (Note: because writing to this prompt may feel very personal, students are welcome to pass on sharing their writing. They are, however, responsible for being a good listener to their partner.)

During Reading (20 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

1. Introduce the story (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 by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Tell students they will be practicing an active reading strategy called reading for a purpose. This will help them locate specific information they will need for later.

4. Reading for a purpose directions: Explain to the group that in addition to “staying strong,” the writer of this story needs support to get through a difficult time with her mother. Read for moments in the text when the writer does, or should, ask for help or advocate for herself. Draw a star in the margins next to those examples.

5. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together. Stop to discuss periodically, supporting peer-to-peer talk and non-judgmental listening. To do this, ask for volunteers to share what they drew a star next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?”

6. Next, ask the group to further consider these questions:
• Why do you think Isela’s mom places so much responsibility on her? Is it fair? Why or why not?
• Does Isela love her mom? How do you know?
• Does Isela’s mom love her? How do you know?

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

1. Text based discussion directions: Have students return to the story and locate the other examples they identified by drawing a star in the margins. Together, generate a list of the people in Isela’s life who she does, or could have, asked for help. The list, written up, should include:
• Her dad
• Her mom
• Her history teacher
• Other teachers or staff at school
• Emelly
• Daniel

For each person listed, talk about what happened in the story. Did Isela ask for help, advocate for her needs, or say nothing? How did the person respond? How do you think the person should have responded? (Note: take a moment to think creatively about what her friends Emelly and Daniel can offer for support that is appropriate for a peer, such as advice and encouragement or coming over to help with dishes one day a week.)

(Note: for an example to illustrate the difference between asking for help or advocating for her needs, consider the history teacher. Isela could have advocated for herself by asking for an extension on the project, explaining why, and agreeing to a new deadline. She could also seek help if it’s a teacher she had a good relationship with by asking to talk after class and sharing how her responsibilities at home are an obstacle to being successful in school.)

2. Role Play directions:
• Introduce the guidelines for an improv role play: The prompt will present a dramatic conflict to the two players who respond on their feet (no scripting or rehearsing), using what they have learned about Isela and her friends and family. If the players get stuck, they can call a “freeze” in the dramatic action and ask their peer for suggestions. Role plays should be fun and safe, so no physical contact and the audience shows support through active listening.
• Next, direct students to form triads. One person will play the role of Isela, and one will be her father, teacher, or friend. The third person will help to generate ideas and support the players if they get stuck (perfect for a reluctant actor). Players should refer to the text for insight into their character. Once groups are formed, read the prompt and direct students to agree on roles, and begin. Move around the room supporting. Encourage several rounds with pauses in between to generate ideas, refer to the text, and switch roles.
Role Play prompt: “Isela is stressed-out about the responsibilities she has at home. She is depressed and angry at her mom’s disregard for her feelings and her needs. Although it’s hard for her, Isela decides to ask for help and talk to her dad, her teacher, or her friend (choose one). The other person is reluctant to get involved, forcing Isela to really advocate for what she needs.”

3. Activity De-brief: After thanking the actors for participating in the role play, bring the group together for a discussion. Consider the following questions:

• At the end of her story, Isela says “My mom and I aren’t fully recovered but we’re slowly healing bit by bit together, as a team. In the meantime I’ve learned that when I’m going through difficult times, I can’t keep my feelings inside. It’s OK to depend on other people without worrying that I’ll be burdening them.” What do you think Isela has learned about love? About the people in her life? About herself?
• What personal connections can you make to this story? What personal take-aways do you have from the activities?
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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2015-05-09)

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