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Teacher Lesson Return to "No Violence, No Silence"
No Violence, No Silence
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
The Positive Power in Speaking Up

Story Summary: A young man decides he isn’t going to “be a man” like his father who uses physical violence in order to feel powerful. Instead, he decides that, for him, being a man is about asking for help when you need it, expressing your feelings, and communicating respectfully with others to resolve conflicts.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students reflect on sense of self and identity.
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).
• 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).

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 they will be reading a true story by a teen who learns what being powerful and respected means to him.

2. Introduce the freewrite or quick draw activity by reminding students that it is an opportunity to freely express their thoughts on paper without worrying about spelling, grammar, or anything else. Students will have about four minutes to write or draw in response to the prompt. The goal is to express their thoughts freely without worrying about writing conventions. The expectation is that everyone writes or draws, without stopping, for the full time.

3. Share the following quote, lifted from Anonymous’s story: “I like feeling powerful either by speaking up for something I believe in or by playing basketball—not by being physically abusive. I want to be respected because I show respect, not because people are afraid of me.”

4. Freewrite prompt directions: “Write or draw your responses to the following statements:
• I feel powerful when…
• I earn respect when I…

5. After students have completed the freewrite or quick draw, transition to a pair share. Students should select a partner or turn to the person next to them.

6. Facing each other and practicing active listening, partners each take a turn reading parts of their responses that they feel comfortable sharing. 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.

7. 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 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: Ask students to read for moments in the text when the writer shows that he is powerful or deserves respect (breaking up the fight between his mom and dad, calling his sister for support, expressing his emotions to James, seeking help from his principal, etc.) When this occurs in the text, students should put a plus sign 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 to share what they wrote a plus sign 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 do you think people, like the writer’s father, mean when they say “be a man”?
• How is the writer’s idea of being a man different from his father’s?
• Do you personally connect with the writer’s story? How?

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

1. Introduce the dear teen writer activity by explaining to the students that they will write a letter to the writer giving him advice based on their personal experiences. Remind them that the goal is to communicate their ideas about and responses to the writer’s story. They shouldn’t worry about spelling or grammar.

2. Explain to students that they should refer to Anonymous’s story as they write.

3. Have students write their letters using these guidelines: In your letters, include the following:
• Greeting: “Dear Anonymous, or Dear Teen Writer,”
• Parts you connected to in the writer’s story and why
• Your own thoughts about writer’s idea of what it means to be a man
• Any advice you would give him based on your personal experiences
• Closing: “Sincerely, Your Name”

4. Give them about 10 minutes to write their letters.

5. If they wish, students can share their letters with the rest of the group. Letters can also be mailed to the YCteen office at this address:
242 W. 38th St., 6th floor
New York NY 10018

6: Thank students for being thoughtful members of the group, working to make connections to Anonymous’s story, reflecting on their own lives, and sharing with one another.

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