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Teacher Lesson Return to "Me and My Anger"
Me and My Anger
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English Language Arts Lesson: Better Solutions to Anger Reading Comprehension, Discussion, Written Response

• Students will read and analyze a personal, non-fiction narrative about learning to cope with anger and re-directing it in non-violent ways.
• Students will use strategies to support their reading comprehension, including making personal connections with the difficult emotions described by the story’s author.
• Students will work in teams to identify solutions to the problem of anger and violence in school settings.
• Students will team-write a letter to persuade school administrators to adopt their suggested solutions.


Before the Activity:
Ask students to think about a time when something made them not just angry, but enraged. Ask them to freewrite for about 10 minutes, summarizing what happened, how they responded, and how they felt physically and emotionally before and after responding.

Then, ask them how they tried to resolve their anger. Is the way they responded to the situation then the same way they would respond today? Why or why not?

Activity 1: Reading and Reflecting
Tell students they are going to read a story about a teen who tends to resolve her anger through violence, until her responses land her in jail.

Select volunteers to take turns reading the story aloud to the class. Then, as a class, have students discuss the following points:

What explanation does the author give for the fact that she has always had a “short temper?”

What situations seem to contribute to her building anger? What are some of the examples the author gives for how she tended to get her anger out?

How does the author’s outlook about using violence to get out her anger change over the course of the story? At what point does she decide she needs to find alternative ways to solve her problems, and why?

What helps her change?

Activity 2: Writing and Discussion
Observe to students that there is a national debate about how to respond to students who act out violently at school. While everyone agrees that schools should be places where everyone is safe, there are differing ideas about how best to keep schools safe. Suspending and/or expelling students for threats and acts of violence is one strategy (removing the student so that s/he is not a threat to others). But some say this alone is not effective in treating the underlying reasons for anger and violence, and suggest providing more counseling, mentoring and other support at school for students who act out violently (or threaten to).

Break students into groups of 3 to 4, and tell them they are going to work together to brainstorm ideas for a writing assignment. Tell the groups to imagine that they attend the same school as the girl whose story they just read, and that the principal has appointed them to a student task force and asked them to come up with several recommendations aimed at decreasing school violence.

Give students the following instructions, preferably in writing:
“Write a letter to the school’s principal with at least three suggestions for improving the school’s way of responding to students who struggle with anger and act out violently (threats, fights, verbal aggression, etc.) Support your recommendations by using specific examples from the story you just read, highlighting the things that seemed to most help the author learn to control her anger and that would be appropriate for a school setting. The purpose of your letter is to persuade the principal, so it should include a clear introduction and thesis statement that explains the actions your group thinks should be taken, and examples from the story that show why you believe your suggestions will be effective.”

Review class expectations for team work prior to starting the assignment. You may wish to draft a rubric that covers not only expectations for the writing assignment, but for participation and teamwork.

Aligned with Common Core Standards for English Language Arts 9-12

Common Core Standards for Reading:
Key Ideas and Details
RL.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says.

RL.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

RL.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

RL.10 Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Common Core Standards for Writing:
Text Types and Purposes
W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Production and Distribution of Writing
W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Range of Writing
W.5 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening:
Comprehension and Collaboration
SL.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

Anchor Standards for Language:
Conventions of Standard English
L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
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