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Teacher Lesson Return to "Acting Brave Made Me Brave"
Acting Brave Made Me Brave
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Controlling My Fear


Story Summary: Shameera experiences both an earthquake and a hurricane. She surprises herself when she’s able to remain strong and brave during these natural disasters that are out of her control. Inspired by her courage in handling these intense situations, she decides to conquer her biggest fear: public speaking.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will reflect on previous experiences for growth and learning.
• 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 realizes she’s braver than she gives herself credit for.

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. Share the freewrite prompt: “List five things that you are afraid of in order from most fearful to least. What do you think would change about your life if you conquered these fears? How do you think you’d be able to do it?”

4. After 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 their writing and thinking.

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 Shameera shows she’s brave and tries to conquer, or control, her fears. When this occurs in the text, students should place an exclamation point (!) in the margins of the story.

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 wrote an exclamation point (!) 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:
• What did Shameera learn about herself through all of her experiences?
• What do you think about the ways she deals with her fear of public speaking?

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 doing an activity where they envision themselves as acting brave and controlling their fears like Shameera.

2. Read the following quote, lifted from Shameera’s story, to the group: “I thought: If I didn’t lose my courage to a hurricane and an earthquake (which isn’t even in human control) then I shouldn’t lose my courage with something that is within my control—like talking in front of a group. I just needed to believe in myself and my ability to come up with ways not to let the fear control me.”

3. After reading this quote, explain to the group that they’re going to think more about what would happen if they were able to conquer, or control, their greatest fear.

4. Have students draw using these guidelines:

• Look back at your freewrite and select one of the fears you listed.
• Now, draw yourself facing that fear. Use speech bubbles, thought bubbles, symbols, and color to show how it feels to get through this fear and try to control it.
• Write a caption at the bottom of your drawing that explains how you feel, or what your motto is to “get through it.” For example, Shameera’s motto is that the more she speaks, the closer she gets to the end of her presentation.

5. Give students about 10 minutes to draw and write.

6. Invite students to share their drawings, as time allows. One option is to perform a gallery walk. Have students display their drawings on a large table or their desks. Then have everyone get up and walk around the room to look at all of the drawings.

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

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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2016-05-14)

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