You may want to try these activities back in the classroom.
- Select a passage of literature that is rich in description,
plot, and character development. It is best to choose a
text that features adolescents and their related concerns,
so that the students can easily make a personal connection.
Some novels that might work
with your students include:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Night Flying Woman: An Ojibway Narrative, by Ignatia
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
A list of books
about growing up female is included in this University
of Maryland Baltimore County discussion thread.
Some short stories include:
"Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes
"Teenage Wasteland" by Anne Tyler
"Raymond's Run" by Toni Cade Bambera
Some poems include:
"The Lifeguard" by James Dickey
"We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks
"Nikki Rosa" by Nikki Giovanni
"New Clothes" by Julia Alvarez
"Dear John Wayne" by Louise Erdrich
"Street Kid" by Duane Niatum
Family Friend Poems contains an exhaustive list of
poetry on the topic of growing up at their site.
Some dramas include:
Our Town by Thornton Wilder
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
- Dramatically read the passage aloud or use Reader's Theater
for a dramatic class reading experience in which readers
take on the role of one of the characters in the text.
Reader's Theater Online Resources:
and scripts for reader's theater
Reader's theater resources
for students and teachers
- Ask students to personally respond to the literature by
drawing a picture of something the passage reminds them
of in their own life. This could be a part of the text that
is connected to memories, a problem or dilemma, or a person
they may know. Ask students to write a short paragraph explaining
what the picture represents and how their reading of the
literature made them rethink the experience or memory. Students
should have the opportunity to share their art and writing
in small groups.
- Talk about the ways in which the text they read helped
them think about this event or person. Some questions you
might like to ask include:
What part of the text plot, theme, a character, a setting made
you remember something that happened to you?
How was what happened to you different from this part of
How was it the same?
If this ever happened to you again, would you do things
differently, based on what you read?
Read several fables and/or nursery rhymes, such as "The Tortoise
and the Hare," or "Jack and the Bean Stalk." Ask students to
explain what advice they can take from the fables and implement
it in their own lives. Talk about extending the message into
their own lives. For example, in the fable "The Tortoise
and the Hare," the message clearly is that what seems obvious
at the outset might not always come to pass. When have your
students expected something to happen that didn't? How did the
outcome make them feel? What other ways might this message influence
their lives? Ask students to write their own fable offering
their advice for peer readers, using characters and settings
that make sense to them today. Encourage students to call upon
their personal experiences, conflicts, and challenges in designing
and writing their fable.
Online Fairy Tales and Folklore Resources:
Brainstorm a list of adolescent conflicts and/or problems, such
as peer pressure, teen pregnancy, not receiving the respect
they think they deserve, getting into college, etc. Together,
generate a list of texts that "speak" to these problems (See
online sources for texts in Activity One
if you need some reminders.). Ask the students to explain their
choices. What lessons might a reader take away from these texts?
This list can be posted near the classroom library or on a bulletin
board to encourage reading. The teacher may also choose to post
the list on the school web site, to share with the school community.
Ask students to select a young adult novel as an independent
reading project or for use in literature circles or small book
groups, depending upon your preference. Invite students to keep
a dialectical journal or reading log that focuses on personal
connections to the text. A dialectical journal is a two-column
journal where students comment on short passages, phrases, or
lines of text. One column features a direct quote from the text
and the other column features the students' reactions to the
passage from the text. For the purpose of this activity, ask
students to only select passages that spark a personal response
or reaction based on their own life experiences. Ask them to
think about "How is this similar or different from how I have
acted in the past or how is this similar or different from my
own life. What can I learn from this? How does this change my
perspective, if at all?" You may want to model a few passages
before asking the students to do this on their own.
It is also helpful to provide a list of open-ended questions
for students to work from, such as those included in this Hints
on Helping Students page. [click here for a PDF
version] You could also use this information to make a bookmark
or a class activity sheet. If they feel comfortable about doing
so, students could share their dialectical journals with each