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 "Rewriting My Dream"
Rewriting My Dream
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To Be Happy or Successful (Is it Possible to Be Both?)

“Rewriting My Dream,” by Marsha Dupiton

Letter Writing Activity

1. Prewriting activity: Before reading the story, write two words on the board: “Happiness” and “Success,” spaced widely apart. Ask the students to call out any words they associate with happiness. Then do the same for success. When finished, stand back and reflect together. What do we see? Any patterns? Do any words appear with both words? Which ones? What does that tell us? Ask the group to come up with a definition of “happiness” and “success,” based on all the words gathered around them on the board. It should be one sentence. Write it on the board when they’ve come up with it.

2. Read the story & discuss: Once you have some consensus, read the story aloud, taking turns often so lots of students get to speak in Marsha’s voice.

Ask the class if they think the author is happy. Her family supports her, but she feels pressure from them to find a stable career, and journalism feels unstable. Do any of your students experience similar pressures?

Ask the students: In choosing a career, what is more important, what you love? Or what your family wants you to do? Some of each? In what ratio?

3. Brainstorm: Tell the students they are going to write a letter to Marsha, but first they are going to brainstorm. Who supports them? In what ways? In what ways are they missing support that they want or need? Is there any way they can begin trying to get that support? How does Marsha’s story make them feel? Inspired? Jealous? Brave? Lost? Why? What do your students want to do for a career? What do they love to do? Why? If they don’t know yet, then what are some possibilities?

4. Write a letter to Marsha: After briefly brainstorming on paper in response to these questions, they’re ready to write a letter. Do they want Marsha’s advice? Do they want to give her advice? Do they want to share a similar story from their lives? Do they want to show how different their lives are? (The letters can be anonymous.)
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(NYC-2008-11-10)