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Teacher Lesson Return to "Missing My Mom"
Missing My Mom
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
What Lives On When Someone Dies

Story Summary: Jovani’s mother is his positive source of protection, support, and encouragement. When she experiences health complications and unexpectedly dies, he deals with her painful absence by reflecting on the values and ideas she instilled in him.

Goals for SEL Growth
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students recognize and describe their emotions and thoughts.
• Students have empathy for other youths’ experiences.
• Students recognize family sources of support.

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. Briefly check-in with your group by playing a quick round of “Rose, Thorn, Bud.” Have each student share a “rose” (something positive that has recently happened), a “thorn” (something challenging that has recently happened), and a “bud” (something they are looking forward to).

2. Introduce today’s group by telling them you will be reading a true story by a teen who experiences the unexpected death of his mother.

3. Introduce the freewrite or quick draw activity by reminding students that it is an opportunity to freely express their thoughts on paper. The expectation is that everyone writes or draws, without stopping, for the full time.

4. Freewrite prompt: “Think of someone that was once in your life that you still miss. It can be a childhood friend, a deceased family member, a former teacher, etc.
• What did this person teach you? What words or actions of theirs stay with you?
• What are the memories you have with them that you think about the most?”

5. After students have completed the free write or quick draw activity, 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 sharing parts of their responses that they feel comfortable sharing. 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 group leader, you may stop periodically to ask students to share their responses to the story.

3. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together. Consider asking these open-ended questions during or after the read aloud:
• What strengths, skills, or resources did Jovani use to address the challenge of his mother dying?
• What did Jovani learn about himself through this experience?
• If you were in Jovani’s shoes, what would you have done or how would you have felt?
• Do you have any questions about Jovani’s story, his experiences, or his choices?

4. Thank the group for reading and sharing.

Closing Circle (15 min)
During this post-reading activity, students will make personal connections to the story.

1. In a go-round share, have your students answer this question:
What connections from your own life, the world, or other texts you have read, can you make to this story?

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

For more information on how to support grieving teens, visit:

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