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Teacher Lesson Return to "Forgiving My Father"
Forgiving My Father
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Addressing Anger, Meeting Needs

Story Summary: A young woman’s father becomes distant and irritable after an accident at work leaves him unemployed. Although she wants to forgive him for his moody behavior, they fight constantly and she continues to feel angry. When her father learns she’s in therapy to work out this anger, he slowly begins to change.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will write routinely over extended and shorter time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences (CCLS W.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. Welcome students to the group. Introduce the lesson by telling them you will be reading a true story by a teen who finds it difficult to get past her anger at her father.

2. Introduce the freewrite activity by explaining that students will have about 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 with labels are modifications that support diverse learners.)

3. Freewrite prompt: “Think about a time when you felt angry or another strong emotion because of something a family member said or did.
• How did you feel inside your body? How did you look? What were the thoughts in your head?
• What did you, if anything, to get past your anger and work it out with your family member? What happened?”

4. After the students have completed the freewrite, transition to a pair share. Students should select a partner or turn to the person next to them.

5. Facing each other and practicing active listening, partners each take a turn sharing parts of their responses that they feel comfortable sharing. The listener should not respond, but should actively listen to the speaker. You can use a timer or wait until the hum of conversation dies down before closing the activity.

6. Thank students for sharing.

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 group leader, you may stop periodically to discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Tell students they will practice an active reading strategy called reading for a purpose. This will help them read for a purpose and be prepared to use the text in later activities.

4. Reading for a purpose directions: Ask students to read for moments in the text when the writer expresses anger. When this occurs, they should write a W in the margins of the story. Then ask students to read for moments in the text when the writer’s father expresses anger. When this occurs, they should write an F in the margins of the story.

5. hile 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 from each section of the room to share what they wrote a W or F next to and ideas of what the writer or her father could have done differently to help their relationship

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

1. Introduce the drawing activity by explaining to the group that they will be drawing a scene from the writer’s story where they placed either a W or F while reading.

2. Explain to the group that the writer of the story expresses a lot of anger toward her father, and that he expresses a lot of anger, too. Then explain that usually when someone is angry, it’s because they have certain needs that are not being met. For example, the writer of the story is trying to forgive her father, but she resents that he is no longer fun, says “no” to everything, and doesn’t spend time with her anymore. Since these needs aren’t being met, she holds onto her anger.

3. Drawing Directions: Choose a part from the writer’s story that you marked with a W or an F. Take your piece of drawing paper and fold it, so you have four panels. Then follow these guidelines:
• 1st panel — Draw the writer if you picked a W part of the story or the writer’s father if you picked an F part of the story. Use dialogue bubbles to show what he or she is saying. Use thought bubbles to show what he or she is thinking and feeling. Identify his or her unmet needs by using words, pictures, or symbols.
• 2nd panel — Draw the person you didn’t draw in the first panel. Use dialogue bubbles to show what he or she is saying. Use thought bubbles to show what he or she is thinking and feeling. Identify his or her unmet needs by using words, pictures, or symbols.
• 3rd panel — Show the writer and her father communicating their feelings and needs to each other. Use dialogue bubbles.
• 4th panel — Show the writer and her father resolving their issues and working toward forgiveness. Use dialogue and thought bubbles.

4. Give them about 10 minutes to create their drawings.

5. Invite students to share their drawings, as time allows.

6. Thank students for being thoughtful members of the group and working to make connections to Anonymous’s story, reflect on their own lives, and share with one another.

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