The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "Slightly Open Arms"
Slightly Open Arms
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Getting to Trust

1. Opinion Continuum: 10 minutes

Tell the group that they are going to do an activity where they listen, see, and respect where others stand. While the group is still seated, review the directions. Tell them:

“On either end of the room, there are signs that read ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree.’ I will read a statement and then you will decide whether it’s true for you (agree) or not (disagree). You will move toward the sign that reflects your opinion. If you’re unsure, you should stand somewhere in the middle. Once everyone has moved, I will invite volunteers to share why they chose to stand where they are.”

Next, ask the group to stand up and move to the center of the room. Read the first statement and ask group members to move toward the sign that reflects their opinion:

“You can’t trust anyone.”

Once all group members have moved, ask them to notice where other group members are standing. Ask for volunteers to share why they are standing where they are. Ask at least one group member from each end of the continuum. Tell group members they may change their position if they are influenced by another group member’s opinion.
After each question, have everyone return to the middle. Repeat for two more statements:

“I have people I can turn to for help.”

“Trust is something people can earn.”

Thank group members for sharing their opinions.

2. Read the Story: 10 minutes

As a group, read aloud "Slightly Open Arms" by Chantel Jackson. Let teens pass if they don’t want to read.

3. Silent Conversation: 15 minutes

Place group members in pairs. Each partner will independently respond in writing to the following prompt:

“How do you communicate your feelings and needs to adults? Which adults do you confide in and why?”

Once finished, partners exchange papers and, silently, write a response to their partner’s response. Partners can then take a minute to discuss what they wrote. If there is time, have group members share out some of their thoughts.
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