Loud and Clear: A Reflection on Teaching SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson in the Classroom (a guest post by author Eric Devine)
My classes discuss the novel in four parts, after each of the marking periods. By the end, they understand the symbolism with the seasons and within Melinda’s artwork. They see the root of Melinda’s chapped lips, the strained relationships within the story, and, of course, her inability to speak about what has occurred.
During the discussion after the class had finished the novel, I kept hearing the word responsibility. Now, I had split the class into multiple groups, and it was buzzing through all of them, so I stopped the discussion and said to the class that it sounded as if they were focusing on the responsibility for the rape. They agreed they were. Part of me wishes I had pushed no further, but the majority is glad I asked what I did: “If you had to assign percentages of responsibility for the rape, what would that look like? Create a pie chart for me.”
This picture is from my classroom. The four groups varied, but one point became very clear, Melinda was sharing almost equal responsibility with Andy (IT). Now, you’ll notice in the image that there are more than four pie charts. That’s because there were dissenters within groups regarding what the “group” had indicated. Therefore, there are smaller circles for each group, indicating such. The breakdown of responsibility fell into three categories: Melinda, IT, alcohol/peer-pressure/setting. The analysis of all 10 circles, indicating the percentage of responsibility for the rape, amounts to the following:
Until then, I will do my part to keep the dialogue going in my class, so that when the change comes, I can appreciate it, loud and clear
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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