Activity 1: Who Inspires You? Expository Essay (staar writing Practice) Introduction

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy Academic Programming
Activity 1: Who Inspires You? Expository Essay (STAAR Writing Practice)

Finding inspiration is what keeps us going. It gives us hope and strength to which we can aspire. Everyone needs someone to look up to. Write to the prompt:

“Write about someone who inspires you. Give specific details to support your response.”

ELAR - 1a, 1b, 1c, 1e, 2a, 6, 10, 13a, 13b, 13c, 13e, 15a, 15d, 17a, 17b, 17c, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
Books to Display

Display a variety of biographies that teenagers would enjoy. Some examples are listed below.

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Positive by Paige Rawl

No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to climb the Seven Summits by Jordan Romero

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Supply List

Books from Books to Display List

Paper (STAAR 26 lined paper)


Detailed Description of Activity

Begin with a discussion of inspiration. What does it mean? Inspiration can come from different places. Ask students to think about a person who inspires them and how they inspire. When talking about someone who inspires, we look for positive qualities that encourage us to be a better person.

The teacher (or adult) will share an example of who inspires them and why. Create a brainstorm web as an example.
Have students think about someone they would go to for advice. Students will create a brainstorm web about who inspires them and why. Students will share their web with a partner.
Discuss the setup of an expository paper:

Thesis- answers the question what/why

Body paragraphs- details to support thesis

Conclusion- Restate thesis

Students will use their brainstorm web to write a 26 line expository essay to the prompt:

“Write about someone who inspires you. Give specific details to support your response.”

Activity Resources

STAAR Lined Paper

Expository Writing Rubric

Brainstorming Web

Activity 2 Music as Poetry

Ask most teenagers what they think of poetry, and you most likely get an eye-roll. For most teens, poetry is not an appreciated genre, it is something they have to listen to their teachers analyze in English class. Talking about poetry and making the connection between music and poetry helps teens start to appreciate poetry. In Dumplin’, Willowdean appreciates the things that Dolly Parton conveys in her songs.


ELAR: 1c, 3, 7, 13a, 13b, 13c, 13d, 13e, 24, 25, 26

Books to Display

Hip-Hop Poetry and the The Classics by Alan Lawrence Sitomer and Michael Cirelli

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Various Poetry books from your collection

Supply List

CDs with various genres of songs (Suggested songs: What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong; Lego House- Ed Sheeran; Firework- Katy Perry; Hotel California-The Eagles; any current popular songs)

Printed lyrics for songs on CD

CD Player

Meeting room

Detailed Description of Activity

Have the CD playing as teens are entering the room.
Have copies of the different song lyrics printed and available for all attendees.
Discuss how song lyrics can be considered to be poems set to music. Often times we listen to music and don’t really think about what the words are saying; we just appreciate the beat of the music. By reading aloud the words of a song, we can better understand what the song is about.
Read aloud What a Wonderful World. Discuss what the poem/song might be about. There is no right or wrong answer, as long as there is a reason to support it. Play the song after the discussion.
Just as songs can be poetry, poetry can be music.
Give small groups of teens (3-4 in a group) a poetry book and have them pick a poem and then create a beat for it. They can drum on the table, beat-box or any other creative way of making a beat.
Have groups share.
Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

YouTube: Poems as Songs:

Activity 3: The Bully Project: Film Festival and Discussion

Unfortunately, Willowdean’s friends are often bullied by their fellow classmates, which is one of the reasons one of the reasons why some of them set out to prove themselves in Clover City’s Miss Teen Blue Bonnet.

Bully is a 2011 documentary film about five teenagers and the varieties of harassment that they went through. The film jumps back and forth between the teens to describe their lives.

ELAR: 14C, 18B, 19C, 25B, 25A, 18C, 23B

Health 2C, 2E, 5C, 5H, 5K, 5L, 6A, 7A, 7B, 10A, 10B, 10D, 10E, 11A, 11B, 11C, 11D, 11F, 12D, 12E
Books to Display

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Neilsen-Fernlund

A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Avengers: No Bullying (Marvel)
Supply List

Bully (2011 Film)

Movie Licensing

Seating for screening

Discussion questions

TV and DVD Player/Computer or Projector and DVD Player/Computer

Detailed Description of Activity

Screening the documentary alone is not enough raise awareness about bullying. Questions and commentary from the audience should follow the screening in order to encourage discussion.

A panel of fellow staff may be necessary in order to get the discussion going and keep it going doing any lags in the conversation.
If you are not able to find a copy of the film at your library, you might consider ordering your own DVD and toolkit here for $40 which includes a copy of Bully (2011) film, in-house public license, poster, stickers and a flash drive full of additional resources. The film’s website even offers a free workshop to better prepare you in a leading a discussion following the film as well as a variety of resources for educators, teens and parents. (
Activity Resources

Discussion questions:

“Before the film:

  • Do you believe that bullying is an issue?

  • What would you like to “get” from the film?

  • How do you feel about watching the film?

After the film:

  • How do you feel after watching the movie?

  • What do you think would need to happen in order to stop bullying behaviors?

  • What kind of changes would you like to see?”

Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

The Bully Project:

A guide to the film Bully:

Teens Against Bullying:

TEA: Bullying and Cyber-Bullying:

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