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 "My Name Is Mason Martinez"
My Name Is Mason Martinez
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Story Summary: Amidst growing questions from family, friends, and teachers, Mason is struggling with their gender identity. Their journey to find a name that better fits this identity leads Mason on a path of self-reflection that eventually brings about fulfilling results.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Standards Connections

Students will be able to:
• Annotate a text during the reading process in order to develop an understanding of the text’s main idea and supporting details (CCS R.1 and R.2)
• Discuss their interpretation and analysis of, as well as personal connections to, a narrative nonfiction text (CCS SL.1)
• Write in response to a text and to other students’ written responses (CCS W.4 and W.10)

Before Reading the Story (15 minutes)
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 is struggling with their gender identity and who tries to find a name to fit that identity.

2. After welcoming the group, ask students (or post on the board) the question, “What does your name mean to you?”

3. Pass out journals or notebook paper and pencils. Give students three to five minutes to write down responses on paper independently.

4. After time is up, explain to the group that they will be doing a Pair Share. Ask them to turn to a person next to them and take turns sharing their responses to the question.

5. Each member of the pair should take about a minute to share. Cue partners to switch roles after the first minute. Use a timer or wait until the hum of conversation dies down before re-gaining students’ attention.

6. Call on each pair to share one name that they discussed. Record their ideas on chart paper or a white board. Continue asking for volunteers.

7. Lead a discussion by asking group members the following question:
• "How does it feel to be called the wrong name or have your name be forgotten?”

8. Thank students for sharing.

During Reading (20 minutes)
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 identify times when the story raises a question for them. When this occurs, students should write a “?” in the margin.

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 an “?” next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open-ended question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?” Additionally, during the reading, pause or wait until the end to ask students the following:
• "How did being called the wrong name affect Mason?”
• "What would you have done to support Mason during this time?”

6. When you finish the story, ask the group to discuss their reactions to the story, including the questions it raised for them. They can turn and talk to a neighbor before you discuss as a whole group.

After Reading the Story (15 minutes)
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 group that they will write a letter to Mason that shares some of their reactions to their story.

2. Tell the group that if they want, it’ll be possible to mail in their letters to the Youth Communication office and to potentially get published in an upcoming issue in our “Letter to the Editor” section.

3. Write the Dear Teen Writer guidelines on the board or read them to the class:
• Begin with the greeting “Dear Mason,”
• Describe what you learned about gender identity and the importance of names from their story.
• Share any personal reactions or connections you had with their story.
• Describe the strategies that you think helped Mason get through this time, and how those strategies could help you as well.
• Ask Mason a question or two based on their story.
• End with a closing: “Sincerely, (Your Name)”

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

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