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Students process “teen stress” here through blogging and by comparing their stressors to those of a literary character

Subject:

Language Arts  

Grades:

8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Writing about Teen Stress
By – Eric Thiegs
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 8-12

Writing about Teen Stress:

Stress…the bane of both teacher and student. Teens and their instructors witness examples of classroom stress and negative coping mechanisms almost everyday. From heads down on desks to absenteeism, the effects of stress manifests itself for all to see, causing disruptions for both students and teachers.

Even in the stories we read in the classroom, we can find examples of teen stress and examine its negative impact on the characters. Look at Holden Caulfield or Hamlet. Both of these literary characters deal with stress in very destructive manners. Holden emotionally and physically breaks down by the end of the novel and Hamlet…well…need we say more.

Lesson Introduction:

This blogging lesson plan is designed to give students a positive outlet to release some of their stress through the process of writing and blogging.

Teachers may also take this lesson a step further by asking the students to compare the stresses they face on a day-to-day basis with those of the characters they are reading about in class. Are they similar? What’s different? What coping mechanisms are used by both the real teen and the literary one?

We hope you enjoy this free teen stress lesson plan…

Objective:

Students will be able to name a stress in their life, define it, examine it and process it through writing.

Materials:

  • StageofLife.com’s Teen Stress List
  • or a list you and/your class compile of teen stressors

  • LearntobeHealthy.org’s “Health” eLearning Mental Health Activity Kit for Teens (for reference and additional ideas/resources)
  • Note Cards/Paper

Anticipatory Set:

Answer these questions and perform the following pre-discussion activities:

  1. Independent :
    1. Ask each student to write down a stress in their lives. Big or small. Let the students know that you will not be collecting this particular paper or note card and that they can be as honest or as open as they wish. Student do not need to write more than one sentence for this part. They should simply name their stress.
    2. After everyone has written down their particular stress, ask the students to then write down the effects this stress is causing in their lives. They will have one or multiple effects to write down based on the stress they are experiencing. Remind the students that stress manifests itself physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.
  2. Yes/No Poll – Raising Hands :
    At this time, at the teacher’s discretion, ask the students yes/no questions to get them thinking about how the act of writing is effecting their current stress level. Did it feel good to name their stress? For how many of them is this the first time they are really taking time to think about this stress? How many of them think that their stress is completely unique and no one else in the room or school is dealing with it? How many know their stress is common but it’s still effecting them? Etc.

Activities:

With the anticipatory set complete, engage the class in the following activity using StageofLife.com’s Teen Stress List or just go through the questions below. (Note: LessonPlansPage.com amended the following list with additional items so that this lesson plan will still be useful if StageofLife.com’s Teen Stress List becomes unavailable.)

Teen Stress Group Activity:

Using the Teen Stress List go through each teen stress and ask your students to stand up if they personally feel stressed by that same list item. Ask them to sit down between stress listings.

The questions would sound something like this:

  • Are you stressed about school? [then get more specific per the list]
    • Are you stressed about grades?
    • Are you stressed about homework?
    • Are you stressed about English class? [wait for laugh - see who stands up]
    • Tests?
    • Projects?
    • Sports?
    • Juggling deadlines in multiple activities?
    • Are you stressed by transitions?
  • Are you stressed about college? [then get more specific per the list]
    • Making the right choice of college?
    • The college application process?
    • Getting accepted?
    • Getting scholarships?
    • Picking the right major?
  • Are you stressed about relationships?
    • Are you stressed about family?
      • Are you stressed about parents?
      • Are your stressed about siblings?
      • Is a death or illness in the family stressing you out?
    • Are you stressed about friends?
      • How about social standing or Facebook issues?
      • Are you stressed about “drama” in your life?
  • Are you stressed by social or societal expectations?
  • Are you stressed by thoughts of the future and change?
  • Etc.

Learning Checks:

After the Teen Stress List activity, class discussion begins:

  1. Class Discussion:
    After students have all sat back down, lead your class in a discussion asking questions such as…
    1. Based on this activity, do you feel less alone in the stress you wrote on your card?
    2. Which stresses seemed the most common?
    3. Which stresses caused the most reaction from the class after I read it?  Why?
    4. Etc.
  2. Class Definition :
    Next, write the word “stress” on the board. With the questions from the class discussion still fresh, but without asking the students to specifically name their personal stress, ask them to instead share with the class some of the effects of stress that they wrote down on their paper/notecard (the second part of the anticipatory set).
    • To Do:  Pass around a second note card or piece of paper to your students and ask them to copy the class-generated list of stress effects from the board.
  3. Contextual Tie-In – Discussion :
    At this point, write the name of a character from the novel, story, or poem, the students are studying in class. Lead the class in a Q&A discussion about this character, asking the students to both name stresses that the character faces and the effects of the stress on the character. What does he/she do under stress? How does stress effect his/her behavior and relationships within the story? Were the outcomes positive or negative? (There is such a thing as good stress.) Encourage your students to take notes during this discussion.

Closure:

Moving away from class discussion and back to lecture mode…

Reflection:

Ask your students to review their note card with the individually named stress and its personal effects.  Then ask them to review the list of stress effects generated by the class that they wrote down on the second note card. Finally, ask them to reflect upon the discussion in which they related the list of stress effects that they experience in their lives to that of the character in the book they’re currently studying. This reflection will play a part in their homework…

Homework: Blogging / Writing Homework:

With the class activities top of mind, ask your students to go home and write about their stress (or an alternative from the Teen Stress List) in a more narrative or personal essay format.

  • The essay’s construct and format is up to the individual teacher, but the students should incorporate elements from the class discussion and personal reflection into the piece, i.e. they should clearly name the stress, reference the effects of this stress, how they are coping with it, how it’s effecting relationships around them, if they are alone in feeling this stress (or not), etc. They should be creative and use authentic voice for their essays.
  • Encourage your students to be as specific as possible, and for those teens that want to explore the blogging/memoir format, students may share their story/essay using the green “Share a Story” link on StageofLife.com.
  • Their essay may help another teen going through the same thing that happens to read their essay on StageofLife.com and/or they may find posts popping up on their story from readers who want to respond to their stress essay.
    • This is the essence of the blogging format…the opportunity to help and/or inspire others through your words and interactive feedback from readers.

Follow-Up:

    1. Quaker Shares:

      After the homework assignment is complete, bring the class together later in the week to read aloud select essays (for those students that are comfortable).

    1. Full Closure:

      After the essays have been turned in, added to StageofLife.com, discussed, shared and otherwise fully reviewed, ask the class to share the journey they took during this lesson plan. Did it help? Do they feel less stressed after writing and sharing? If yes, how so?

Comments or Questions:

For comments or questions about this lesson, please feel free to

E-Mail Eric Thiegs !

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