Text Sets for Teachers: Gender’s Lens: Society’s Views and Expressions of Gender


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Gender’s Lens: Society’s Views and Expressions of Gender
Text Set for Every Day by David Levithan
created by Jack Dunn

At a time where celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner exist, society is increasingly regarding gender as a fluid construct. With this established, one can better examine the how’s of society’s view of gender. I chose this approach because I think too often the context of gender is lost in its portrayal in different texts. When it comes to women, often the discussion is framed as a “How does (female character) embody/defy the stereotypes of women in (role)?” While ideas like “strong female archetypes” are important, it is equally important to understand why roles like this matter in literature. Women do not exist merely as affirmations and challenges to society and so should not be regarded solely as such within the classroom. We must consider womanhood as a varied, independent structure, not a response to a long-established, less-than definite construct of genders and their roles. As for masculinity, any discussion at all would be breaking from the norm. The ways that Pudge in Looking for Alaska challenges masculine stereotypes, that Finny in A Separate Peace might embody them are not typical discussion topics. I am not suggesting that these are questions that warrant discussion, but why they are not discussed is something worth exploring.

Every Day by David Levithan seemed like a logical choice as an anchor text. Its protagonist is genderless, and is afforded a unique perspective into the lives of both men and women. From there, I looked for texts that could be explored from this particular perspective in new and interesting ways. I tried to include as many different perspectives as possible. I wanted to then expand the context that this conversation exists within. I tried to include both anecdotal and objective information about gender from numerous perspectives. I also included information about transgender people as it is a growing important part of the gender discussion. This text set is mean to open up the conversation about a topic that has been contentious lately.

Anchor Text (although other texts may be used!):
Every Day by David Levithan
every day

Books or Book Excerpts
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
of mice and men
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Poems and Songs
Jezebel – Iron & Wine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=990kOZxIOKw
Shrinking Women – Lily Myers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQucWXWXp3k
Gender Bender by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Short Stories
How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie) by Junot Diaz
he Wife of Bath’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Dark Knight Rises
The Demise of Guys? – Phillip Zimbardo
A Powerful Poem on What it Feels Like to Be
Darius Simpson & Scout Bostley – “Lost Voices” (CUPSI 2015)

Articles/Internet Sources
Caitlyn Jenner – Diane Sawyer interview
Beyond ‘he’ and ‘she’: The Rise of non-binary pronouns
Excerpts from Constructing New Masculinities: The Representation of Masculinity in U.S. Literature and Cinema
Tips for Allies of Transgender PeopleGLAAD
Toys Are More Divided by Gender Now Than They Were 50 Years Ago by Elizabeth Sweet

Guiding Questions

  • What does being a woman mean? What does being a man mean?
  • Is gender binary? Should it be binary?
  • How does gender affect individuals?
  • Is gender a necessary categorization of people?
  • To what extent is gender a fluid construct?
  • What do we talk about when we talk about gender?
  • How does American culture define/express gender through different media and language?
  • What traits and ethics are associated with gender? What are the implications of those associations?

Writing Prompts

  • What does gender mean to you? Does YOUR gender mean something to you? If so, what?
  • How are the stereotypes and ideas that are applied to femininity/masculinity a woman/man?
  • How do ideas about gender affect those they apply to? How does this manifest itself in literature and the real world?
  • What does it mean to be a Strong Female Archetype? How does the way society views gender influence their prevalence in fiction? People to consider during your response: Meg Murry, Selena Kyle (Catwoman), Melinda Sordino, and Jezebel
  • Compare and contrast the relationships of Ponyboy-Cherry Valance, Bruce Wayne/Batman-Selena Kyle/Catwoman and A-Rhiannon? What part do gender and society’s views of gender play in each? What factors affect/complicate the role of gender in these relationships?

A special thanks to Jack for taking a unique perspective on the topic of gender. We hope this text set will prove useful for many anchor texts and classroom discussions! What do you think?

RickiSigandKellee Signature

Text Sets for Teachers: Good vs. Evil: Exploring Morality Through the Holocaust


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Good vs. Evil: Exploring Morality Through the Holocaust
Text Set for Night by Elie Wiesel
created by Kellie-Anne Crane

It is of the utmost importance that teachers prepare their students for their futures, whether that includes continuing their education or entering the work force. No matter what path students choose to take, there are certain concepts that all people need to recognize and consider as human beings, like the concept of morality. Everyone is confronted with moral decisions on a daily basis—whether it is a monumental decision, or even something as small as deciding to give the last cookie to your sister or to keep it for yourself. The events of the Holocaust and World War II are incredibly essential to study, not only because these events are our shared history but because of the unbelievable turmoil faced by millions. Teachers must help students to understand the gravity of this time period and work to teach it to students in a way that is both approachable and comprehensive.

By exploring the concept of morality through the Holocaust, students will be educated on what is perhaps the greatest tragedy of mankind and be forced to contemplate the morality of multiple scenarios throughout the holocaust. As upstanding citizens, we would like to think that we do not need to worry about anything like the Holocaust—but the fact remains that it happened less than a century ago. Teachers must help students examine the decisions and events that occurred during this vile period on a personal and real level so that they can gain a deeper understanding of the moral struggle faced during the era. Our youth must be educated on our past, both good and bad, to ensure that a similar situation such as this never arises.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
Night by Elie Wiesel

Novel Excerpts
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
anne frank
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
book thief
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
number the stars

Graphic Novel
Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

Picture Books
Terrible Things by Eve Bunting
terrible things
The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

Pledge of Allegiance”

“Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” from Les Misérables
“Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap

Winston Churchill’s First Speech as Prime Minister on May 13, 1940
President Roosevelt’s Speech to Congress on December 8, 1941
Adolf Hitler’s Speech Declaring War Against the United States on December 11, 1941
Pope John Paul II’s Speech at Israel’s Holocaust Museum March 23, 2000

“The Creed of a Holocaust Survivor” by Alexander Kimel
“The Action in the Ghetto of Rohatyn, March 1942” by Alexander Kimel

Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Online Resources
Timeline from 1918-2000
Viktor Frankl: Why Believe in Others TED Talk
“‪Oprah and Elie Weisel at Auschwitz” (1:20- 6:05)
“Man that saved hundreds of children from the Holocaust surprised by them decades later”

“Ghettos Under Nazis” by Susan D. Glazer
“Baking Saved this Man during the Holocaust, and Is Still His Livelihood” by John M. Glionna
“3 Famous Moral Dilemmas That Will Really Make You Think” by Lenna Son
“German Woman, 91, is Charged with 260,000 Counts of Accessory to murder as Prosecutors Accuse Her of Being a Nazi SS Radio Operator Who Served in Auschwitz”

Guiding Questions

  • Are there tenets of morality that are universal?
  • Can a person’s sense of morality be altered by their situation or surroundings?
  • Did the conditions of the holocaust change people’s morals? How so?
  • Are there good and bad people?
  • What can we learn from the tragedy of the Holocaust?

Writing Prompts

  • Consider one of the famous moral dilemmas we have discussed. What do you believe is the right answer in this context? Why
  • What makes someone a good person? A bad person? Are there clear binaries between the two?
  • Choose a text (novel, story, video, song, etc.) from class that has helped to give you a better understanding of the holocaust. What did you learn from this text? Why is it important?
  • Choose a quote or passage from Night. What does this scene say about morality?
  • Is there any moral(s) that you find to be universal, as in followed and accepted by everyone? What is it and why is it so widely accepted? If not, explain why you think there is no universal set of morals.

A special thanks to Kellie-Anne for this inspiring text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

Kellee Signatureand RickiSig`1111`

Text Sets for Teachers: Finding the Line: What is “Good?


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Finding the Line: What is “Good?
Text Set for The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
created by Alexandria Bottelsen

What makes someone a good person? When are you beyond redemption?

For many young adults, the world seems black and white. In many forms of literature and pop culture, there is a dichotomy between good and bad, heroes and villains. That being said, things such as morality and the “right” thing to do are rarely clear-cut. Not only do these determinations depend on cultural and societal norms, they are also based on individual values. Through The Kite Runner, students will have the opportunity to explore what it truly means to be good, and when—and ultimately if—people are beyond redemption and forgiveness.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini deals with these issues of morality in a modern, engaging way and thus serves as the anchor text for this unit. That being said, the novel does take place in Afghanistan, where the culture and values are far different than those of high school students in the United States. While it is important for students to see that these issues are universal, I wanted to choose other texts—such as Harry Potter and Scandal—that they could easily relate to and grabble with. Similarly, many of the Internet texts are very modern. I want our discussion in class to transfer to other classes as well as their daily life, so including local police blotters, news articles about Snowden, and discussing the morality of current wars will expose them to wide range of contexts in which this argument exists.

Anchor Text (although other texts may be used!):
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
kite runner

Book Excerpts
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
in cold blood

Episode of Scandal (e.g. Season 4, Episode 19) and Abby and Harrison Talk About Morality
Clips from Harry Potter: Snape vs. Dumbledore
Les Miserables (2012): Clip where the bishop forgives Valjan
Criminal Minds Episodes (various)

The Scales of Good and Evil
Thought Experiment I
Thought Experiment II or Thought Experiment III
Who would you forgive?: List of Historically Famous “Bad Guys” (Instead of giving students the website rankings, ask the famous “bad guys” and debate/discuss this process. Can we rank evilness?)

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Short Stories
“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Lather and Nothing Else” by Hernando Tellez
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

“Does Reading Good Literature Make You Moral?”: Boston Review
“Is War Ever Morally Justified?”: The Week
Newspaper Scavenger Hunt for Good and Evil: Police Blotter
Bill Cosby vs. Michael Jackson: How Are They Remembered?
Edward Snowden

“The Prince” Machiavelli

Guiding Questions

  • How does the culture we live in help/hurt our definition of morality? How does the line between good and evil differ between cultures?
  • Does someone’s position in society (e.g. a role model, celebrity, or public servant) change where the line of morality is for them?
  • Is anyone entirely “good” or “bad,” or can people move freely between categories?
  • How does someone’s fall from morality affect our memory of them as a person?
  • Is there a point at which we can no longer forgive someone? Who defines that point?
  • Are good and bad situational, or are they concrete across all contexts?
  • Do the “ends justify the means”? In other words, is it ok to act “badly” if the result is “good”?

Writing Prompts

  • Think of a time when someone betrayed you. What did they do and why was that so bad for you? Would someone have taken equal offense to it? Were you able to forgive them? Why or why not?
  • What is one thing you think is beyond forgiveness? Why did you choose this? Can you think of any situations where you may forgive a person for that action?
  • List your top three values as an individual. Where do these values come from? How do they affect your view of “good” and “bad”?
  • Trace Amir’s morality throughout the novel, then decide, is Amir ultimately a moral person? Do you forgive him? Write a short paragraph for each side of the argument, then highlight which one you personally agree with the most.

A special thanks to Alex for this critical, thoughtful text set! We hope this will prove useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

RickiSigandKellee Signature

Text Sets for Teachers: The Power of Words: Witnessing the Impact of Words


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The Power of Words: Witnessing the Impact of Words
Text Set for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
created by Kelly Markle

I chose this theme because I think that it is very important in The Book Thief and also important for confronting large events that based on control, such as the Holocaust. This theme could be used with almost any Holocaust text to highlight the psychological side of such a horrific time. The idea of “the power of words” is also something that would be very beneficial to talk about inside of a middle or high school classroom because it touches on issues that are extremely relevant to the students’ personal lives. This is a time of many insecurities and judgments, so it is a good way to explore this reality through other sources and texts. When designing the text set, I wanted to have a solid combination of historical and new sources that were relevant to what the students already know. I included musical sources, using a well-known song along with less popular songs that they may not know. I also did this by having a speech from Obama along with a speech by Hitler to highlight the fact that they are both very well spoken people and that they both have power in their words, but those words can be used to influence people differently.

When creating the set, I tried to start by thinking of activities that can be done based on this theme inside of the classroom. Then, I found sources to support those ideas, so that they were not thrown into a list that was nonsensical. This is important to my text set because many of the sources are videos and it is important to remember that there will be follow up activities that ask the students to write, respond, or participate in an activity based on what they are seeing so that it does not feel like they are only getting visual experiences. I also plan to print copies of lyrics to songs and speeches so that my students could read along and reference as the unit develops. I think that this theme lends itself to many different situations so that the discussions differ. There are also many levels of the influence words from a personal to a national level, which is something that is important to show students because one leads to another. This theme is relevant to the subject of English in general because if words did not have power, literature would not exist, and that could be used to help students realize the importance of the class and why books, poems, words endure.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
book thief

brown girl dreaming (excerpt) by Jaqueline Woodson
brown girl
The Diary of a Young Girl (excerpt) by Anne Frank
anne frank

Kid President: 20 Things We Should Say More Often
Blind Man: The Power of Words
Hannah Brencher’s Ted Talk
Fight Song in Spanish
Why Sign

Hitler Youth Speech
Obama Campaign Speech
Obama: “Don’t Tell Me Words Don’t Matter”
Miss Teen USA 2007- South Carolina
“I Have a Dream”

“Consequence of Sounds” – Regina Spektor
“Same Love” – Macklemore
“A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” – Bob Dylan
“It’s Alright Ma” – Bob Dylan
“Misheard Song Lyrics”

“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carol
“Every Kid Needs a Champion” by Rita Pierson
“The Power of Words” by Letitia Landon

Holocaust timeline to represent how quickly Adolf Hitler gained power over the people

Churchill: The Power of Words

10-Youth-Serves-the-Leader-All-10-Year-Olds-in-the-Hitler-Youth boy words

 Short Stories
“The Children’s Story” by James Clavell
“The Pledge of Allegiance”

Activities (Some Are Teacher Created/Shared)
How words are added to the dictionary
Word poems
Favorite Song Activity
Mein Kampf– 4 Corners Activity
Word Play (laughter/slaughter)
Label Game: Each student is randomly assigned one word to define
Brenna’s lesson with quotes about technology
Andrew’s mismatch word activity

Guiding Questions

  • How many words does it take to make a difference?
  • What is the value in the words that are not said? Is tehre any? When should silence prevail?
  • Why do words hold such power?
  • Is this power a good thing or a bad thing? Does the good outweigh the bad, or vice versa?
  • Do words have the same impact no matter who says them? Does definition of a word matter, or the background and emotion behind them?

Writing Prompts

  • Have you ever experienced a time when you have been influenced by words in some way? Have you ever used words to influence others?
  • Create a poem, song, speech, or advertisement that confronts an issue that you find important and use it to convince the readers to feel the way that you do about it through words. Take a strong stance.
  • After reading The Book Thief and completing this unit, what have you realized about the power of words that you did not think about before?
  • Make a list of single words that you think have the most power and explain why.
  • Do you think that you were influenced by words growing up? Whose words? What affect did they have on you? Does this help or hurt society as a whole?

A special thanks to Kelly for this phenomenal text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

Kellee Signatureand RickiSig`1111`

Text Sets for Teachers: Prejudice: Is It Something We Can Control?


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Prejudice: Is It Something We Can Control?
Text Set for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
created by Brenna Conrad

I will be working with an 11A class studying British Literature. In class, we will be reading Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice. At first, I had a lot of difficulty finding a theme that would be applicable not only to both texts but also to two sets of students who get to choose which book they want to read. I chose to focus my unit on the concept of prejudice and if it is something that we can control. In Frankenstein, prejudice is visible when everyone rejects the monster based on its appearance. In Pride and Prejudice, it is inherent in how the classes are divided and how characters treat one another. I chose this overarching theme because I think that this idea of prejudice is a very prominent issue in today’s society and should be considered and discussed in an educational setting. I want students to be able to not only get a more complex and complete understanding of what prejudice is and how it is prevalent in society but also to understand that there are many subtle ways it is incorporated into the media and texts. This is important for students to be aware of, especially as technology and media is becoming increasingly more influential as time progresses.

With this goal in mind, I constructed my text set with illustrating prejudices not only in as many forms of media as possible but in as many different time periods as possible. I want students to place these books among many other works that display the dangers and horrors of prejudice. Though I tried to incorporate multiple sources from different time periods to plot prejudice through time, I narrowed my focus to current media that my students have witnessed in their lifetime, allowing them to personally connect with these sources. Prejudice is one of the most prevalent issues in today’s society, and I think creating an awareness about how prejudice is incorporated into our society in multiple forms of media is very important for learners.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice

Children’s Books
The Sneeches by Dr. Seuss (Also available on YouTube)

Young Adult Texts
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (YA pairing to Frankenstein)
this dark endeavor
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (YA pairing to Pride and Prejudice)
prom and prejudice

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Kenneth Branagh and Robert Di Niro)
Pride & Prejudice (with Kiera Knightly)
Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth)

The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman
Othello by William Shakespeare

Images Used as Propaganda for Protest Movements
Gay Rights:
3.25.2015Prior to WWIJune 2015 Gay Rights MovementJune 2015 Anti-Gay Rights Movement

3.25.2015 Prior to WWI June 2015 Gay Rights June 2015 Anti-Gay Rights

Women’s Suffrage:


Civil Rights:
1960sAnti-Civil RightsBlack Lives Matter MovementBlack Lives Matter MovementCounter to Black Lives Matter Movement

1960s Anti-Civil Rights Black Lives Matter1 black lives matter white lives matter

News Articles
Transgender Student Seeks Acceptance as She Runs for Homecoming Queen
BBC News: The Girl Who Was Shot for Going to School
Girls who Code aim to Make Waves in a Man’s World
Seeking Self-Esteem Through Surgery

“I, Too” by Langston Hughes
“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou
“Beautiful City” by Alfred Tennyson
“Discrimination” by Kenneth Rexroth
“Breaking Prejudice” by Daniel Tabone

“Teenage Frankenstein” by Alice Cooper
“Same Love” by Macklemore
“Blackbird” by The Beatles
“Chains” by Usher

Gap in Yearly Earnings
Race of Prisoners

Gilbert and Gubar: “The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination”

TV Shows/YouTube Clips
Family Guy: African American Prejudice
Family Guy: Asian Prejudice
Family Guy: Mexican Prejudice
Family GuyItalian Prejudice
Family Guy: Muslim Prejudice
Family GuyChristian Prejudice
Social Mobility with Legos

Guiding Questions

  • What is prejudice?
  • How is prejudice seen in today’s society? Has this changed in comparison to the past?
  • How does society portray prejudice? How do we speak back to prejudice?
  • Are there prejudices that we are unaware of, but still possess? How do we know? What can we do about it?
  • Do people live in fear of prejudice? What do they do to avoid it?
  • Are prejudice and racism the same thing?
  • What different types of prejudice are there? Do some levels of prejudice feel stronger or more impactful than others? How might ranking levels of prejudice be problematic?
  • Can we eradicate prejudice or is it a reality of human nature?

Writing Prompts

  • How many different forms of prejudice are there? Are they all prejudice?
  • Make a list of things you’ve seen in the media that promote a prejudice society. Consider media such as television commercials, shows, movies, songs, magazines, or even comics. Pick 5 media that you believe are the most detrimental and briefly explain why.
  • After reading Frankenstein or Pride and Prejudice, has your concept of prejudice changed?
  • Choose a group that has been historically marginalized—either one that we talked about in class or a different group—and examine how the prejudice against this group has shifted across years.
  • Do you believe that it is human nature to be prejudice or that it is something society has taught. Write an argument for the side that you believe in. Be sure to include example from class and at least two credible outside sources.
  • In a journal entry, discuss prejudice in our society. Consider: Do people use prejudice in a way to benefit themselves? How do we as a society associate prejudice and humor? Is that ok? Are we making progress away from prejudice? Why or why not?

A special thanks to Brenna for this phenomenal text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

RickiSigandKellee Signature

Text Sets for Teachers: What is a Hero?: Exploring the Concept of a Hero


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What is a Hero?: Exploring the Concept of a Hero
Text Set for The Odyseey by Homer
created by Lara Hawley

The theme of What is a Hero? can be explored from many different viewpoints. Students might look at how society portrays a hero and what expectations we, as members of this society, have. This can cause individuals to examine the ethnicity, gender, and culture of modern day heroes. Forcing them to decide whether or not society’s idea of a hero aligns with their own personal definitions of a hero. The question of What is a Hero?, allows students to make associations to their own lives. They can describe people they know and defend whether or not they fit these conceptions of heroes. It prompts the students to question their original impressions of a hero.

The unit and theme will be investigated through the lens of the novel The Odyssey. This text is complex and often difficult for young students to engage in. It incorporates challenging language, but my hope is that through this theme, students will become more interested in the characters and the storyline. The additional video clips, charts, and other resources will help the class make sense of the book.

As I was generating my Text Set, I tried to include resources that would spark interesting conversations in the classroom. For example, I included the “Pep Talk from Kid President” to force my students to look at themselves as heroes. I also incorporated the “7 Types of Heroes” so the students could broaden their idea of what a hero is and compare different types of heroes. I hope that students will rethink the characters of the Odyssey during this unit and decide whether or not they should be considered heroes.

Anchor Texts (although other texts may be used!):
The Odyssey by Homer

Graphic Novel
shadow hero
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

Books (Excerpts)
Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson
Be a Changemaker

“What is a Hero?”
Freedom Writers Clip (Everyone is a Hero)
“For the Heroes: A Pep Talk from Kid President”
Les Miserables Clip (Selfless/Forgiveness)
Caitlyn Jenner Speech

Star Wars
The Dark Knight Rises

we can do it
helping wheelchair

“The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
“A Hero” by Robert William

Short Stories”
“Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes
“Initiation” by Sylvia Plath
“Cranes” by Hwang Sunwon

“Kill Your Heroes” by AWOLNATION
“We Could Be Heroes” by Alesso

PowerPoint (Teacher Created/Shared)
“Superhero PowerPoint”

Internet Sources
The Hero’s Journey
Five Qualities of Incredibly Heroic Leaders
7 Types of Heroes
Dictionary Definition
Hero Quotes

News Articles
What is a Hero?
CNN Heroes

Guiding Questions

  • What is a hero?
  • What makes someone a hero?
  • Do you have to be perfect to be a hero or can heroes make mistakes?
  • Can you be a hero because of one heroic act?
  • Are there different types of heroes?
  • Is heroism an innate or learned quality?

Writing Prompts

  • How are you a hero?
  • Who is your hero and why?
  • Make a list of top ten qualities of a hero–from most important (1) to least important (10).
  • Which of the characters in the Odyssey is the most heroic?

A special thanks to Lara for this phenomenal text set! We think this text set would be useful for many anchor texts! What do you think?

RickiSigandKellee Signature

Text Sets for Teachers: Growing Pains: Looking at the Subject of Coming of Age


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Growing Pains: Looking at the Subject of Coming of Age
Text Set for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
created by Andrew Johnson

We must all grow up order to fully enter the world as an adult. In some cultures, growing up is a rite of passage. In others, it is a series of events—a gradual process. Everyone grows up in different ways and is influenced by the different circumstances and environments. There is no one singular point in people’s lives when they can decidedly say that they came of age. It simply just happens. It comes to pass through the experiences that change who they are and what they value as individuals. Growing up not only changes how we think about others, but it also changes how we think about our own identities and places in society.

With that said, this text set is immensely important for exposing students to how others manage to grow up and progress through their lives. Students in middle and high school want nothing more than to be older. They want to be grown, even though a part of them also wants to secretly stay young forever. They may have been told at some point in their lives by a parent, teacher, or other adult to “grow up,” but do they really know what this means? How do they know? This text set will take a multicultural, multi-faceted view on the process of growing up in a world that can be strange, harsh, and also very, very enjoyable.

Anchor Text (although other texts may be used!):
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Graphic Novel
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
american born chinese

Other Texts
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Little prince

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (excerpts) by Stephen Chbosky
perks of being a wallflower

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
house on mango street

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (excerpts) by Mark Twain
tom sawyer

The Body by Stephen King (novella)
the body

“If” by Rudyard Kipling
“Lightspeed” by Grieves
“In My Life” by The Beatles
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost

Short Stories
“Lost in the Funhouse” by John Barth (excerpt)
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut

“Manhood for Amateurs” by Michael Chabon

Wizard of Oz (part of a prior unit)
Mean Girls
Rain Man (clips/part of introduction to ASD)
Stand By Me (adaptation of Stephen King’s The Body)

TV Shows
Boy Meets World (any and all applicable clips)
Girl Meets World (any and all applicable clips)

Articles/Internet Sources
The Teenage Brain by National Geographic
Should Growing Up in Compton be Considered a Disability VICE
Kids are Growing up Way Too Fast – Manhattan Institute
The Definition of Disability by Deborah Kaplan
Talking About Disability – A Guide to Using Appropriate Language
13 Amazing Coming of Age Traditions from Around the World

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (in order to understand the anchor text better)
Autism Speaks (in order to understand the anchor text better)
Simply Psychology (Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development)

Guiding Questions

  • What does being a child mean? What does being an adult mean?
  • Why can the path between childhood and adulthood be confusing or challenging?
  • Do we ever stop “growing up”?
  • Does our environment affect how we “grow up”?
  • Is “growing up” always a good thing? What makes it desirable?
  • Who or what pressures us to “grow up”? Who or what pressures us to stay young?
  • Is maturity synonymous with age?

Writing Topics

  • Describe someone who you consider to be “grown up” or “mature”? List their attributes.
  • Which stage(s) of identity development would you consider yourself to be in?
  • Design one scenario/question to determine if someone is mature or not. What would you look for in the answer?
  • After reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Do you think that Christopher has “grown up”? What do you think he has learned?
  • Compare and contrast Christopher’s journey and possible “coming of age” with another character of your choosing (or maybe even you!).
  • What are we supposed to learn about ourselves after you’ve grown up? What do you hope to learn about yourself after you’ve grown up?

A special thanks to Andrew for this relevant, engaging text set! We think it would fit in with a variety of age levels and class texts. What do you think?

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