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Teacher Lesson Return to "I’m Nothing Like My Father"
I’m Nothing Like My Father
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Painting a Picture

Story Summary: A young man vividly recounts how he tries to protect his siblings, mother, and himself from his father’s physical abuse. Overwhelmed with concern for his mother and anger toward his father, he discovers that writing is the way to successfully work through his feelings and gain a sense of peace and control.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture (CCLS W.3).
• 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 decides to break the cycle of violence in his family.

2. Introduce the quick draw activity by explaining that students will have about a minute to respond to a prompt by drawing. The goal is to express their thoughts freely without worrying about artistic skills.

3. Quick draw prompt: Listen to the following quote from the story: “I went into my room, slammed the door, threw myself on my bed, and put on my headphones. The music overpowered my dad’s words but I felt his anger. It was there in that mischievous smile he’d had planted on his face—it made me want to vomit.”
• What do you imagine when you hear this passage? Quickly draw the details that stand out most in your mind.

4. After the students have completed the quick draw, 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 what they visualized, or imagined, when hearing the quote from the story. 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.

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 the writer uses sensory language to paint a powerful picture in the reader’s head. When this occurs, they should draw an 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 an next to and why.

6. After reading, ask the group to refer back to the places they marked with an and do one of the following:
• Discuss what they see, hear, smell, touch, or feel when reading these passages
• Discuss the mood of these passages, or how they make them feel

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

1. Introduce the writing activity by explaining to the group that they will be writing a poem that paints powerful images in the hearts and minds of their readers.

2. Explain to the group that the writer of the story uses poetry as an outlet for his anger. Tell them they’re going to create their own “Feelings” poem using rich description and sensory language.

3. Then follow these poem guidelines:
Line 1: “(Name emotion/feeling word) is the color of ______.”
Line 2: Describe how this emotion looks.
Line 3: Describe how this emotion sounds.
Line 4: Describe how this emotion smells.
Line 5: Describe how this emotion tastes.
Line 6: Describe how this emotion feels.

4. Give students about 10 minutes to write their poems. They can feel free to write beyond the suggested six lines.

5. Invite students to share their poems. Encourage audience members to silently applaud or snap fingers in appreciation of the reader.

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

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