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Teacher Lesson Return to "I Can Heal"
I Can Heal
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Social and Emotional Learning
The Long Road to Recovery

Story Summary: The writer is sexually assaulted by her friend, and she keeps it a secret for months until a failed suicide attempt prompts her to write about the experience. After showing her writing to an English teacher and guidance counselor, she gains the courage to tell her mother. Opening up helps her to rebuild her confidence and love herself again.

Goals for SEL Growth
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students reflect on self-management strategies that can help them cope with difficult emotions.
• Students reflect on the people in their lives they can turn to for support.
• Students identify the pros and cons of keeping secrets that may affect their emotional and academic well-being.

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. Lead a group check-in. If you do not have a routine check-in procedure, ask group members to rate how they’re feeling from 1-10, with 10 being the best they’ve ever felt. Students can elaborate on their number if they’d like.

2. Introduce today’s group by telling them you will be reading a true story by a teen who slowly heals from a traumatic experience.

3. Introduce the Toss One, Take One activity by explaining they are going to do an activity that gathers everyone’s ideas and allows them to hear multiple perspectives.

4. Pass out pieces of scrap paper and pencils. Tell group members not to write their name on their paper. This is an anonymous activity.

5. Ask group members to write a response on their paper to this question:
• Why can it be hard to open up and share something that’s bugging you?

6. Give group members three minutes to think and then write their responses. If some group members are struggling, ask them to write about why they find it difficult to answer the prompts.

7. Write your own responses to the prompts to model the activity.

8. After group members have written their responses, tell them to crumple them into balls and toss them into the middle of the circle, or a container you have available.

9. Model for the group how you expect them to crumple and toss their responses into the center of the circle.

10. After everyone has tossed, each group member should retrieve an anonymous response from and return to their seats. As an alternative, walk around the circle with the responses and have each group member blindly pick a paper ball. (If a group member happens to choose their own response, it’s OK because no one will know.)

11. Go around in a circle or ask for volunteers to read aloud the response from the paper.

12. Invite group members to comment on what they heard, such as similarities, differences, or personal connections to their peers’ responses.

13. Thank group members 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 ask students to share their responses to the story.

3. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together. Consider asking these open-ended questions during or after the read aloud:
• What’s standing out to you about the story?
• What do you think of the writer’s choice to use writing as a way to heal? What are some ways that you can cope with difficult feelings? [writing, meditating, walking/exercise, music, etc.]
• What advice would you give the writer if you were her friend?

4. Thank the group for reading and sharing.

Closing Circle (15 min)
During this post-reading activity, students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Pose the following questions to the group and take responses from volunteers:
• How was the writer affected by not sharing her experience of being sexually assaulted for so long?
• What do you think of her decision to share her writing with an English teacher?
• Who is someone in your life, like the writer’s English teacher, who you can trust to open up with and discuss something that you want to keep confidential? [note: you can take a thumbs’ up from each group member when they’ve thought of someone rather than take public responses if no one wants to share].

2. Thank students for being thoughtful members of the group and working to make connections to the writer’s story, reflect on their own lives, and share with one another.
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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2018-01-05)

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