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Discovering Their Voices. Engaging Adolescent Girls with Young Adult Literature by Marsha M. Sprague & Kara K. Keeling. Presented by Caitlin Impink, Laura Kane, Krystin Schleh, and Emily Everett. Questions for Reflection.

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Discovering their voices

Discovering Their Voices

Engaging Adolescent Girls with Young Adult Literature

by Marsha M. Sprague & Kara K. Keeling

Presented by Caitlin Impink, Laura Kane, Krystin Schleh, and Emily Everett

Questions for reflection
Questions for Reflection

  • Do girls’ and boys’ experiences of adolescence differ? If so, in what ways?

  • Do boys and girls need to be taught differently in the English classroom during adolescence? If so, how?

Background of cultural considerations
Background of Cultural Considerations

  • Separates issues of adolescent boys and adolescent girls

  • Makes girl adolescence a unique struggle

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Cultural considerations cont
Cultural Considerations (cont.)

  • Book positions girls as “lost” (voice and identity)

    • “As girls go through adolescence, they lose their inner voice—their sense of self”

      (Sprague and Keeling 2)

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Cultural considerations cont1
Cultural Considerations (cont.)

  • Girls silence their voices after a certain age (11 or 12)

    • Do this to protect themselves

  • Messages they see from society, parents, media, etc. (tell them to look/be a certain way)

Cultural considerations cont2
Cultural Considerations (cont.)

  • Expression vs. suppression

  • Experience conflicted feelings

    • “Girls … face a central relational crisis: to speak what they know through experience of themselves and of relationships creates political problems—disagreement with authorities, disrupting relationships—while not to speak leaves a residue of psychological problems: false relationships and confusion as to what they feel and think” (Sprague and Keeling 25)

Cultural considerations cont3
Cultural Considerations (cont.)

  • Girls are generally shortchanged/overlooked in schools

  • In general, girls don’t have issues with reading/literacy as much as boys

  • Fostering girls’ ideas about their own identity and finding their unique voice through YA literature

Teaching principles overview
Teaching Principles Overview

"… the task of the adolescent girl is to find and remain true to her inner self—to avoid being co-opted by societal and peer expectations into assuming a false identity" (Sprague and Keeling18).

  • Curriculum design

  • Females in literature

  • Characters’ choices, students’ choices

  • Varied Genres

  • Book club

1 discussion of girls issues
1. Discussion of Girls’ Issues

  • Whole –class novel

    • Strong role models, both male and female

      “These girls are not waiting to be rescued; they are doing the rescuing. Nor are they waiting for a male to provide a happy ending: They are fashioning their own stories.' (p. 4)"-- Odean, Great Books for Girls

  • Literature circles

  • Gender issues in required texts

    • Textbooks

  • Open dialogue about gender issues in the classroom

2 analyze females in literature
2. Analyze Females in Literature

  • Examine the forces that influence the female characters’ choices, such as:

    • Adults

    • Female peers

    • Male peers

    • Physical appearance/lookism

    • Physical/emotional changes

    • Societal expectations

3 extend literary discussions into reflections on students choices
3. Extend literary discussions into reflections on students’ choices

  • Provide both public and private opportunities to respond to literature

    • Private

      • Journaling

      • Written responses to questions

      • Letters to characters

    • Semi-Private

      • Pair or small group discussions

      • Literary letters to peers

    • Public

      • Whole-class discussion

      • Class wiki

      • Presentations/skits

A sampling of recommended ya titles cont
A Sampling of Recommended YA Titles students’ choices(cont.)

Book includes extensive SciFi/Fantasy recommendations for girls

5 start sponsor or support a girls only book club
5. Start, sponsor or support a girls-only book club students’ choices

  • A “set time and place” for girls “to share their voices and be heard” (148).

  • Organization

    • Meeting times

    • Sponsors

    • Food is essential

    • Max. group size

  • Make activities different than class discussion

  • Pitfalls

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Book review staying fat for sarah byrnes
Book Review: students’ choicesStaying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

“I told myself the kind of friendship I had with Sarah Byrnes- the tough kind- was better. I think most of us tell ourselves we don't want what we can't have just to make life more bearable.”

– Eric Calhoune (118)

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Meeting eric and sarah byrnes
Meeting Eric and Sarah Byrnes students’ choices

  • Eric “Moby” Calhoune

    • Male narrator/protagonist

    • Obesity makes him social outcast

    • Pledges to stay fat for Sarah Byrnes

  • Sarah Byrnes

    • Badly burned in “accident”

    • Abandoned by mother

    • Suppresses voice

Plot overview
Plot Overview students’ choices

  • The Beginning

    • Flashbacks to Junior High

    • “Crispy Pork Rinds”

    • Dale Thornton: enemy turned ally

  • Conflict

    • Sarah stops talking

    • Why?

  • CAT Class

    • Contemporary American Thought

    • Heavy issues discussed

Discovering their voices on staying fat for sarah byrnes
Discovering Their Voices students’ choiceson Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

  • Physical appearance and “lookism”

    • One of most dramatic books to explore it

    • Distinction between looks and substance

    • Must be aware of pressure placed on them to find their true voice

  • Physical abuse

    • Teens respond positively

    • Encourage to share

    • Express gratitude

Why it works
Why It Works students’ choices

  • Expression vs Suppression

    • Sarah forced her voice in beginning, became silent

    • Eric is helpful male peer

    • Father oppressive male

  • Additional Strong Talking Points

    • CAT class issues

    • Author doesn’t take a side

What it lacks
What It Lacks students’ choices

  • Outsider

Staying fat for sarah byrnes project
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes students’ choices Project

  • Teaching Principle 2: Examine forces that influence females’ choices

  • Teaching Principle 3: Look for extension activities that have students evaluate their own choices

Part 1 lookism
Part 1: “Lookism” students’ choices

  • “Who do you consider beautiful?”

    • Think-Pair-Share: Type of beauty, societal pressures

  • Inner Portraits Assignment (Eric or Sarah)

    • Artwork + Extension activities: Inner Self-Portrait, Book Scene Rewrite/Skit

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Part 2 friendship
Part 2: Friendship students’ choices

  • Socratic seminar: Is the relationship Eric and Sarah have a true friendship?

    • Prep questions (Meaning, personal relations, examples of help/hindrance)

  • Use real-life examples and other relationships in the book for evidence

Part 3 extension opportunity
Part 3: Extension Opportunity students’ choices

  • Teaching Principle 5: Girls-only book club or literature circle

    • List of additional texts with expression/suppression themes, lunchtime book club

  • Images from and