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Teacher Lesson Return to "Please Stop Saying I’m Trouble"
Please Stop Saying I’m Trouble
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
It’s Not Me, It’s You


Story Summary: Grace has been labeled as “trouble” by men since she was 12. She writes about how this label implies that girls are to blame for actions taken by impulsive men who lack self-control. She also writes about the #MeToo movement and how many people in her neighborhood are not aware of these recent high-profile efforts to combat sex-based discrimination.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will write routinely over extended and shorter time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences (CCLS W.10).



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. After welcoming the group, tell them that they are going to do an activity that gathers everyone’s ideas and allows them to hear multiple perspectives.

2. Pass out pieces of scrap paper and pencils. Tell group members not to write their name on their paper. This is an anonymous activity.

3. Ask group members to write a response on their paper to the prompt (in bold) posted on chart paper or a whiteboard:
• What does it mean if someone says a girl is “trouble” because of her looks? Do you feel like it’s disrespectful to say this or make similar comments about a person’s appearance? Explain.Freewrite

4. Give group members three-four minutes to think and then write their responses. If some group members are struggling, ask them to write about why they find it difficult to answer the prompts.

5. Write your own responses to the prompts to model the activity.

6. After group members have written their responses, tell them to crumple them into balls and toss them into a large empty container or in the middle of the circle.

7. Model for the group how you expect them to crumple and toss their responses.

8. After everyone has tossed, each group member should retrieve an anonymous response from the container and return to their seats. As an alternative, walk around the circle with a container and have each group member blindly pick a paper ball. (If a group member happens to choose their own response, it’s OK because no one will know.)

9. Go around in a circle or ask for volunteers to read aloud the response from the paper.

10. Invite group members to comment on what they heard, such as similarities, differences, or personal connections to their peers’ responses.

11. Thank group members 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 discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Tell students they will practice an active reading strategy called reading for a purpose. This will help them read for a purpose and be prepared to use the text in later activities.

4. Reading for a purpose directions: Ask students to identify points they agree or disagree with in the story. When they read something they agree with, they can write a “+” in the margin. When they come across something they disagree with, they can write a “-”.

5. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together. Stop to discuss periodically, supporting peer-to-peer talk and non-judgmental listening. To do this, ask for volunteers to share what they wrote a “+” or “-” next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?”

6. When you finish the story, ask the group to discuss their reactions to the story. They can turn and talk to a neighbor before you discuss as a whole group.

After Reading the Story (15 min)
During this post-reading activity, students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Introduce this activity by saying to the group:
• "Now that we’ve read the story, we’re going to do a Role Playing activity connected to a situation that Grace wrote about.”

2. Ask students to listen as you re-read the following quote: “If we could allow everyone to be who they really are, then we wouldn’t have to feel trapped in boxes, restricted by our own bodies.”

3. Ask students, “What does it mean to be ‘trapped in boxes’ because of the fact that you’re a boy or a girl?” [Possible answers: it means to be stuck with living a certain kind of way or having certain expectations put upon you for who you are. Some of these expectations might be that boys shouldn’t cry, or that girls should be submissive and passive.]

4. Say that students will role play a scene where these boxes are challenged.

5. Break students up into groups of 3. (Join a group if there’s an even number of students.)

6. Explain that each group member will have a specific role in the role play (consider writing roles on chart paper or white board for all to see):
• Little Brother: wants to buy something considered “girly,” like a coloring book with glittery pink and purple crayons, while he’s out shopping with his family.
• Mom: traditional mom who doesn’t want her son to have anything girly.
• Older Sister: wants to free her mother from using traditional gender boxes (where some things are considered girly and others are masculine and we need to stick to what’s in our own box).

7. Give groups 3 minutes to select roles and plan how they’d role play this scenario in front of the group.

8. Ask small groups to perform their role play for the whole group. Remind the audience to support actors by listening. If the actors get stuck, ask audience members for suggestions the actors can try.

9. After each group has performed, debrief by asking the whole group the following questions:
• "What are some things we saw the Older Sister do that worked to help the Little Brother be who he wants to be and not feel stuck inside a box?”

10. After all groups have performed, de-brief by asking the following questions:
• "Why can it be hard to make choices or act in ways that fall outside traditional gender boxes?”
• "How do you make choices and act in ways that are outside the box?”

11. Thank group members for performing, supporting, and sharing.

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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2018-05-03)

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