For Teachers

Rationale:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a wittingly-written story about two very different teenage boys named Will Grayson whose paths meet, which has a profound effect on both boys. Here is a typical story of teenagers finding their identities while losing and gaining friends along the way. What makes Will Grayson, Will Grayson unique is that it was written by two well-respected young adult authors, John Green and David Levithan, each taking on his own Will Grayson and writing about his Will in his own style.

This story also addresses one Will Grayson in his struggle to come out as gay. Here we see LGBTQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/transsexual, Queer, and Questioning) literature taken in a serious at times but often hilarious route. Even people who disliked the book adored Tiny Cooper, the lovable, flamboyantly gay, and always soft-hearted companion of…well, I won’t give it away. This Will Grayson also struggles with depression, but not in the way most commonly written about. Will has had depression for years, so now he is simply living with it, not trying to stop it. Depression is part of this character which allows readers to gain a greater understanding of and empathy for Will and a struggle so many of us face.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is incredibly readable, fast-paced, and written with the language and humor of high schoolers – which brings me to the profanity. Yes, there is a great deal of colorful language in this story. It might even seem excessive. If so, you’ve probably never spent much time in a high school. Needless to say, throughout the course of teaching Will Grayson, Will Grayson, we will be analyzing and discussing the authors’ word choices. Quite honestly, it will probably be the use of profanity that draws students (especially boys) to this book.

Some parents might find issue with having his or her child reading an LGBTQQ book. In today’s society, we interact with people from diverse backgrounds and it is vital to have a respect for each of those backgrounds. In any English Language Arts class, children will read books from various viewpoints. That doesn’t mean we must side with the authors or the characters; as teachers, we are simply widening children’s understanding of literature and society.

Lastly, parents might take issue with Will Grayson and his friends obtaining fake IDs. The book doesn’t glorify fake IDs; rather, it downplays them in a sense because, once Will has his fake ID, he is disappointed that he isn’t able to use it in the way he expected. This is more a reflection on the characters wishing to be old enough to go to 21 and over shows than kids breaking the law.

 

Awards:

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
The New York Times bestseller
An ALA Stonewall Honor Book

Sample Lesson Plan:
Lesson Title: Exploring Language in Will Grayson Will Grayson
Grade: 10-12
Unit: Creative Writing

Objectives:
• In preparation for discussion, students will be able to argue for or against the use of profanity in Will Grayson, Will Grayson by stating their claim and providing examples from the text.
R2.3.3. Evaluate the use of literary devices to enhance comprehension.
C 2.2.2. Applies skills and strategies to contribute responsibly in a group setting.
• After reading at least four chapters of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, students will be able to produce at least five paragraph which employ at least three differing writing styles depending on the narrator. W 3.2.2. Analyzes and selects language appropriate for specific audiences and purposes

Rationale: This lesson falls in the first week of teaching Will Grayson, Will Grayson after becoming familiar with the text, authors, and writing styles. This lesson will allow students to delve deeper into the authors’ choices of language and overall writing choices. Using this book as a mentor text, students will create their own writings to explore a variety of narrators they can create and develop.

Sequence of Teaching/Learning Activities:
1. Teacher will ask students to individually skim through the first four chapters of the text, noting interesting language, sentence structure, and other writing that is out of the ordinary, appealing, or unappealing to them.
2. Students will then discuss with one or two partners what they found and why they took note.
3. As a class, examples of literary devices will be written on the board with examples included.
4. Inevitably, profanity will be a topic. Teacher will ask students to individually write down some thoughts about their reactions towards the profanity and quickly script out how they would argue for or against the language choice. Teacher will then lead a class discussion about reasons profanity is used and students’ reactions while students responsibly and respectfully contribute by sharing their arguments.
5. Teacher will explain the writing assignment: to write at variety of paragraphs which include a variety of literary devices and language to help us understand the narrator.

Assessment Procedures: Students will be summatively assessed during discussion for their statements and general participation. Teacher may collect students’ notes arguing for or against the use of profanity in the text to formatively assess based on students’ efforts, evidence, and depth of arguments. Students will also be formatively assessed by their paragraphs given the criteria listed in the objectives.

Materials Needed:
Enough copies of Will Grayson, Will Grayson for the entire class
A white board

Some ideas for assignments and discussions were borrowed from: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/tv/printables/penguin/tl-guide-will-grayson.pdf

Themes Schedule GLEs/EALRS Some activities and assignments used for assessment
Writing styles and character narratives 1stweek(this week includes activities to introduce the text) R2.3.3. Evaluate the use of literary devices to enhance comprehension.R 2.4.2. Analyze author’s purpose and evaluate an author’s style of writing to influence different audiences.W 3.2.2. Analyzes and selects language appropriate for specific audiences and purposesW 2.3.1. Uses a variety of forms/genresC 2.2.2. Applies skills and strategies to contribute responsibly in a group setting.

 

–Discussion about each author’s writing techniques–Write paragraphs using various writing styles to mirror different narrators–Employing differing writing techniques for creative writing to portray narrators’ personalities–Discussion about profanity: why it’s used in the book, how it’s used by individual characters, why/if it’s necessary, and profanity in teenagers

–Begin double-entry diary; update throughout the weeks

Growing up 2nd week R 2.2.3. Understand and analyze story elements.R 3.4.3. Analyze recurring themes in literatureW 3.1.1. Analyzes ideas, selects a manageable topic, and elaborates using specific, relevant details and/or examplesC 2.2.2. Applies skills and strategies to contribute responsibly in a group setting. –Discussion of how both Wills face similar problems to every teenager and why it’s still interesting to us (or not)–think, pair, share: Does one Will have an easier/harder life?–compare and contrast both Wills’ relationships with their parent(s). Discuss how those relationships shape each character.–Discuss Tiny’s name. Are there reasons why Tiny might feel “small” at times?

–Character Interpretation writing exercise: analyzing why one character acted the way he/she did

Homosexuality 3rd week R 2.3.4. Synthesize information from a variety of sourcesW 3.1.1. Analyzes ideas, selects a manageable topic, and elaborates using specific, relevant details and/or examples.C 2.2.1. Uses communication skills that demonstrate respect.C 2.1.1. Analyzes the needs of the audience, situation, and setting to adjust language and other communication strategies.

 

–quickwrite: what did youfeel when you found out Isaac wasn’t real?–Discussion: would it have been different if will was in love with a girl who turned out to be made up?–What is the significance of having Tiny and will be gay? How would the story be different if both boys were straight?–Has reading this book altered your notions of homosexuality? How? (Discussion or short essay)-Tableau exercise: act out a scene and analyze
Love, friends, and acceptance 4th week R2.1.6. Apply comprehension monitoring strategies for informational and technical materials, complex narratives, and expositions: monitor for meaning, create mental images, and generate and answer questionsW 1.1.1. Analyzes and selects effective strategies for generating ideas and planning writing.C 3.1.1. Applies skills to plan and organize effective oral communication and presentation. –Revisit the first paragraph of the first chapter. Why does the 1stWill have such an issue with Tiny? Discuss.–quickwrite and discussion: have you ever had a friend who was to you like Tiny is to Will?–Discussion: Why does Will regret writing and signing the letter in defense of Tiny?–Make a list of all the ways Hold Me Closer brought all characters closer together and how.

–Have students create a smaller version of Hold Me Closer featuring important moments in their life. This can include songs, poetry, dance, art, etc.

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