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Teacher Lesson Return to "My First Boyfriend"
My First Boyfriend
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
My First Boyfriend

Story Summary: Julia starts dating her friend Peter, but quickly feels smothered by him and misses the freedom of being single.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students build social awareness by listening to others from diverse backgrounds.
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).
• Students have an opportunity to 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).

Read the story for this lesson: "My First Boyfriend"

Before Reading the Story (15 min)
This opening activity will activate background knowledge to boost reading comprehension and set the emotional tone for the story.

1. Introduce opinion continuum by explaining that it is an activity about sharing, and listening to, diverse perspectives from your peers on a common question. All viewpoints are welcome.

2. Explain to students that in this activity we will be exploring our different dating values, which include the different things we want or don’t want in a partner and our likes and dislikes about dating activities and behaviors. Values are personal and unique to each of us. Values are also flexible and can change over time based on our experiences.

3. Opinion continuum directions: Clear a large area in the center of the room. On one end post a sign that reads “Strongly Agree” and on the other one that reads “Strongly Disagree.” Have students gather in the center of the space. “For each statement I read, move towards the sign that matches your opinion. You can stand anywhere along the continuum. In the middle is not sure/depends. After each statement we will pause to share, and listen to, our different reasons for where we stand.

4. Read the following statements and follow the directions above. Encourage students to consider past, current, and future romantic/dating partners when answering:
• Good friends can become ideal romantic partners.
• I like to have a lot of physical affection in public (PDA) with my partner (holding hands, kissing, cuddling).
• I usually prefer to go out with my partner in a group of friends.
A lot of texts and calls from my partner make me feel cared about.
• I like to have time away from my partner to be involved in activities that are important to me and that I enjoy.
• It would be okay with me to cancel plans with friends/family because my partner asked me to.
• I want a partner that I can talk openly and honestly about sex with.
• It’s OK to say “I love you” even if you’re not sure it’s true in order to not hurt your partner’s feelings.
• Being in a romantic relationship always includes sexual activity.
• It’s OK if my partner and I have different religious beliefs and/or political opinions.
• Breaking up through a text message is OK.

5. Large group debrief: Direct students to return to their seats and ask the following questions:
• Did you learn anything new about yourself in this activity?
• Did you learn anything new about your peers?
• What are some advantages to figuring out your dating values/preferences BEFORE you become romantically and sexually involved with someone?
(Note: Observe with the group that a lot of different personal values and opinions were shared in the activity. Taking the time to get to know someone’s dating values before you get seriously involved can help you know if they are a good fit for you. By contrast, making assumptions can lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding.)

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 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: “Notice when the writer has an experience with her partner that helps her learn more about, or articulate, her dating values. Draw a star in the margins next to the text that shows this.”

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:
• What are some additional examples in the text where the writer is figuring out her dating values? What was the experience and what is the value?
• What dating values do you share with the writer? Why?
• What do you think are the biggest lessons Julia learned about herself and about dating from her experiences with Peter?
• What do you think Julia might do differently in her next romantic relationship?

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

1. 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 prompt. Each speaker will have two minutes to talk.The listener does not need to respond. After two minutes, direct partners to switch roles.

2. Pair share prompt: “To you, what are the most important ingredients in a relationship?”

3. Ask the students to write an ad searching for the “perfect” person with whom to have a “perfect” relationship. Their paragraph should incorporate what they have learned about their own expectations, needs, and values in this lesson. Tell your students that a dating ad often contains information about both the person you are seeking and yourself. (As an alternative, students could write the ad from Julia’s perspective.)

4. Invite volunteers to share their writing with the class.
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