YCteen publishes true stories by teens, giving readers insight into the issues that matter most in young people's lives.
Email Newsletter icon
Write for Youth Communication: Video
Behind the Scenes: Teen writers describe what it's like to work at YCteen.
Follow us on:
Share Youth Communication Follow YCteen on Facebook Follow YCteen on YouTube Follow YCteen on Twitter
Follow YCteen on Facebook Follow YCteen on YouTube Follow YCteen on Twitter
Teacher Lesson Return to "Too Much Pressure"
Too Much Pressure
horizontal rule

ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Finding Your Sounding Board


Story Summary: O.P.’s parents unfairly put him in the middle of their marital issues. He’s stressed and overwhelmed from taking on their problems and assuming an adult role in his family. When he finally turns to his friends and teachers for guidance and support, he finds a way to not only deal with the pressure, but a way to tell his parents how he really feels.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will recognize family, school, and community sources of support.
• 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. Welcome students to the group. Introduce the lesson by telling them you will be reading a true story by a teen who is caught in the middle of his parents’ issues.

2. Introduce the freewrite activity by explaining that students will have about four minutes to respond to a prompt in writing. The goal is to express their thoughts freely without worrying about writing conventions. The expectation is that everyone writes, without stopping, for the full time. (Note: writing lists and/or drawing with labels are modifications that support diverse learners.)

3. Share the freewrite prompt: “List the people in your life that you turn to when you’re stressed out or need help dealing with a situation. They can be friends, family members, teachers, or other people in your community. Then, next to each person’s name, jot down the reasons why you turn to this person.”

4. After students have completed the freewrite, transition to a pair share. Students should select a partner or turn to the person next to them.

5. Facing each other and practicing active listening, partners each take a turn sharing parts of their responses that they feel comfortable sharing. The listener should not respond, but should actively listen to the speaker. You can use a timer or wait until the hum of conversation dies down before closing the activity.

6. Thank students for sharing their writing and thinking.

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 read for any moments in the story when they make a personal connection, or it reminds them of something that has happened in their or a friend’s life. When this occurs in the text, students should place a in the margins of the story:

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 next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?”.

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

1. Introduce the letter writing activity by explaining to the group that they will be writing a letter to O.P. asking him questions about his experience and making more connections to his story.

2. Referring to the story, have students write their letters using these guidelines:

• Greeting: “Dear O.P., I just read your story, ‘Too Much Pressure’…”
• What you connected to in his story. Be detailed and specific.
• One thing you learned from his story.
• Any advice you want to give O.P if the situation with his parents happens again.
• Closing: “Sincerely, (Your Name)”.


3. Give students about 10 minutes to write.

4. If they wish, students can share their letters with the rest of the group. Letters can also be mailed to the YCteen office at this address:
242 W. 38th St., 6th floor
New York, NY 10018

5. Thank students for being thoughtful members of the group and working to make connections to O.P.’s story, reflect on their own lives, and share with one another.

horizontal rule
[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2016-05-12)

Visit Our Online Store