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 "Change is On the Way"
Change is On the Way
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Quick Lesson:
Think About It Discussion Questions and Activities

Teens in the Youth Communication summer writing program interviewed Chancellor Farina. Below are some activities you can do with your students to engage them in reading, thinking, talking, and writing about the issues facing NYC public schools.

1. While reading the story, have students text code their opinions in the margin by writing an A for Agree and a D for Disagree. Afterwards, facilitate a text-based discussion where students share their opinions in specific response to the text, and explain their thinking.

2. As an alternative to a discussion, have students complete a dialogue journal by writing down quotes from the story that stood out to them, that they had a question about, or that they agreed/disagreed with. Next to each quote have them write their thinking. Afterwards, journal entries can be shared with a partner.

3. In small groups, have students brainstorm questions they would ask Chancellor Farina in an interview and why. Share these out and discuss together. Is there an authentic audience in your building for these questions?

4. Use these discussion questions to invite students to share their thoughts about NYC public schools. Remember to listen closely to learn about the school experiences that have shaped their learning and the values they hold about education.

• What role have the creative arts (dance, art, theater, music) played in your education? What should schools offer? Why?
• Like Matthew Bouyer, have you observed differences in the quality of schools between poor and wealthy neighborhoods in NYC? What are some examples? Why do you think these inequalities exit? What are the effects of education inequality on students, teachers, and communities? What can we do about it? What do you know about struggles for education justice and equality in the past? In other cities today? Why does this issue matter?
• What have your experiences with standardized testing (Regents and new Common Core tests) been? How do you think the recent emphasis on high-stakes testing has impacted teaching and learning? What recommendations do you have?
• What do you think is the ideal class size? Why? What are some effective strategies you have seen teachers use in a big classroom?
For you, what does “college and career ready” mean? Do you think your high school education is preparing you? Why or why not? What recommendations do you have?
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