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Teacher Lesson Return to "From Shy Boy to Ally"
From Shy Boy to Ally
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
The Strength in Standing Up

Story Summary: Shy David doesn’t raise his hand in class, but when a friend is bullied one too many times, he raises his voice in protest. Defending his friend makes him a target, but instead of backing down, David continues to stand up to the bullies and seeks support from school staff and administration. His tenacity pays off and he learns the power in speaking up even when it means standing out.
See the story "From Shy Boy to Ally"

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will have empathy for other youths’ experiences.
• Students will believe that their actions make a difference in their lives, and the lives of others.
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).

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 speaks up about bullying in his school.

2. Introduce the opinion continuum activity by explaining that it is an activity about sharing, and listening to, diverse perspectives. Together, they will notice and respect where others stand.

3. Then, explain to students that in this activity they will be exploring what they would do in certain situations. You will read the situation and then a possible way to respond. They’ll decide whether they agree or disagree that they would respond that way.

4. Opinion continuum directions: Clear a large, open space 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.
Tell the group that for each statement you read, they should move towards the sign that matches their opinion. They can stand anywhere along the continuum. They should stand somewhere in the middle if they are unsure. After each statement, they will pause to share, and listen to, their different reasons for where they stand.

5. Read the following statements and follow the directions above:
• You notice a group of students in the hallway calling another student that you don’t know “ugly” and “stupid.” You would confront the group of classmates because no one deserves to be bullied.
• A popular classmate writes a nasty Facebook comment about your best friend’s appearance. You would stay silent and not respond because defending your friend would just create drama.
• In your classroom, there’s one classmate that is bullied more than others. Other students are constantly making rude comments behind her back, throwing pencils at her, and excluding her from group activities. The teacher sees this but chooses to ignore it. You would talk to the teacher after class about what you’ve noticed and ask for him to intervene the next time it happens.
• In gym class, you’re being harassed by a group of classmates. They take photos of you in your gym uniform and post them to Instagram, push you around while on the basketball court, and threaten more violence. You say nothing and hope that someone else says something, so they stop bothering you.

6. Define the following terms before facilitating a brief discussion about the activity:
Bystander: A person who witnesses someone being bullied and does or says nothing to the aggressor.
Ally: A person who defends the target by standing up to the aggressor without resorting to violence or bullying tactics.

7. Debrief with the group by asking the following questions:
• What stood out to you about this activity?
• Thinking about the situations in the activity, when does it feel more comfortable to be a bystander? When does it feel more comfortable to be an ally?

8. Thank students for sharing their opinions.

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 David didn’t give up on doing what he thought was right in his situation. When this occurs, they should draw a () in the margins of the story. Then, ask students to read for moments in the text when others had opportunities to be allies for David. When this occurs, they should write an “A” 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 from each section of the room to share what they drew a () and “A” next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?”

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

1. Introduce the comic strip activity by explaining to the group that they will be creating a comic. Like regular people transform into superheroes in comic books, they will transfer bystanders in David’s story into allies.

2. Share the following quote, lifted from David’s story: “I also learned that if I believe something is wrong, I should speak up even if it means standing out. I also learned that even if adults or others in power don’t hear you or pay attention to you, you shouldn’t give up.”

3. Then, ask students to imagine what would have happened differently if the adults in David’s life heard him or paid attention to him sooner. Give students some time to think about how these adults could have been an ally to David if they spoke up, as well.

4. Introduce the drawing guidelines:
• Create a comic strip by folding a piece of drawing paper into four panels.
• In the first panel, draw when David first acts as an ally for his friend.
• In the second panel, draw David’s father as his ally.
• In the third panel, draw David’s teacher as his ally.
• In the fourth panel, draw David’s social worker as his ally.
• Use speech bubbles, thought bubbles, and other important details to create your comic strip scenes.

5. Give students 10 minutes to create their comics.

6. When 10 minutes are up, ask for volunteers to share their comic strips with the larger group. As an alternative, students could do a Gallery Walk by laying out their drawings on a table or other flat surface. Then, students can get up, walk around, and take a closer look at one another’s drawings, noticing similarities and differences.

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