Brainstorming: Think about your high school. If you were to categorize the student population, what groups would you create (examples: Band Geeks, Cheerleaders, Athletes, Sci-Fi Geeks, Goody-Goodies, etc.). What do you think the people are like in each group?
Writing Prompt: Where do you fit into your student population? Are you a member of a specific group or do you socialize with students in many different groups? Are you happy with your place in high school society or do you wish you belonged to a different group? Write in paragraph form and thoroughly explain your answer.
Study Guide for Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
First Marking Period
All Together Now
Peeled and Cored
Cold Weather and Buses
Our Lady of the Waiting Room
Hall of Mirrors
A Night to Remember
My Life As A Spy
Advice From A Smart Mouth
Little Writing on the Wall
Pruning / Prowling
Directions: Use your knowledge of Speak to figure out what each of the following symbols means in the novel.
New York State Standard: Writing to express personal opinions
Melinda and her classmates had to write an essay in their English class. The assignment was to write an essay about “The Best Lost Homework Excuse Ever.” Your assignment is to write a creative and detailed essay about the best lost/late homework excuse you can think of.
Think about all the excuses you or your friends have ever given your teacher for lost or late homework. What excuses were the most creative? What excuses worked or made the teacher laugh? Lost and late homework is often the topic of television shows and movies as well. Think about the shows you watch and some of the creative excuses you’ve seen on screen. What excuses were the most detailed?
Write down some possible ideas for your excuse. Remember, a good, creative excuse will have several steps to it. Think about the entire course of events that led up to your homework being late or lost.
This essay should be written in first person. It should be approximately 350 to 400 words. Write it according to the following outline:
#1- Write an introductory paragraph where you will want to mention the assignment that is late
and the class/teacher you are explaining the excuse to.
#2- The body of your essay should include several paragraphs explaining all the details of the excuse. When a new problem occurs, begin a new paragraph. Try to separate the steps that lead up to the homework being lost or late into their own paragraph. Remember, a good excuse will contain several attempts at getting the assignment done, or finding the homework, but with a new problem that prevents this from happening in each paragraph.
#3- Your essay should have a conclusion that contains the end to your story. This should include the last step—your arrival at school. You will also want to mention the assignment, teacher, and class again to remind the reader of what it was that was late.
Authors use figurative language to create a picture in the readers’ minds. Most of the time, the author is comparing what is really happening with something people are familiar with, allowing the reader to make a connection with what is happening in the novel. Figurative language also allows the author to express in more a powerful way what is occurring in the novel. Some literary elements that are used to create figurative language are:
Simile: a comparison between two unlike things using the words like or as.
Metaphor: a comparison between two unlike things without using the words like or as.
Personification: giving human qualities to non-living objects.
Activity One: Read the examples of figurative language from Speak listed below. Label each example with an S for simile, an M for metaphor, or a P for personification.
1. ____ Words climb up my throat.
2. ____ I dive into the stream of fourth-period lunch students and swim down the hall to the cafeteria.
3. ____ I have been dropped like a hot Pop Tart on a cold kitchen floor.
4. ____ We are all dressed in down jackets and vests, so we collide and roll like bumper cars at the state fair.
5. ____There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at the inside of my ribs.
6. ____ Her skin is a flat gray color, like underwear washed so many times it’s about to fall apart.
7. ____ All the anger whistles out of me like I’m a popped balloon.
8. ____ Lights wink on, the fountains jump, music plays behind the giant ferns, and the mall is open.
9. ____ The card is still there, a white patch of hope with my name on it.
10. ____ I chomp my sandwich and it barfs mustard on my shirt.
11. ____ Her voice sounds like a cold engine that won’t turn over.
12. ____ I am a deer frozen in the headlights or a tractor trailer.
Check your answers: http://www.fischer.0catch.com/Poetry2/indentify.htm
Activity Two: Use your book to find additional examples of figurative language you have identified while reading Speak. Indicate the page number where you found each quotation.
Activity Three: Select an example of figurative language found in Speak and illustrate it. You may use an example from this sheet or another example from the novel. In the space provided attempt to draw what the author is saying literally, making the illustration humorous and showing how figurative language helps readers picture what is going on. For extra credit you may create a poster sized drawing of the saying. Be sure to include the actual quotation at the bottom of your drawing. Extra credit projects may not be completed in pen or pencil.
1. What book does Melinda read on Halloween instead of going trick-or treating?
2. Describe Melinda’s lips.
3. The school has decided to change the school mascot four times. List all three of the previous
mascots that have been used and explain why the school felt they had to change each one.
4. What author has the school district banned from the school library?
5. Explain why David Petrakis walks out of Mr. Neck’s class. Give enough details in your answer to fully explain why he is upset.
6. Describe the art project Melinda makes with the turkey bones.
7. Why does David Petrakis video his social studies class?
8. Why is Melinda so overwhelmed by the Christmas gift her parents gave her?
9. Who is the “IT” Melinda refers to?
In “Code Breaking” Melinda discusses her English class where the students are reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In The Scarlet Letter there is a great deal of symbolism. The book, which is set in colonial New England, takes places in a conservative, religious, Puritan community. The main character, Hester, becomes pregnant in the absence of her husband. This is a mortal sin in this community. Hester is arrested and punished by the town. During this era punishment for adultery was extreme. Hester is shunned by the community (no one will speak to her, associate with her, or be friends with her) and she is forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" on the exterior of all of her clothing. The "A" stands for adultery and is meant to mark her as a sinful, shamed woman.
Melinda identifies with Hester. She, too, feels shunned by her community. She imagines that she has a giant "S" on her clothing. Write 2 – 3 paragraphs about the following:
Complete this “I am” poem. You may select any character from the book to do this poem about. Be sure to write from his or her point of view and think about the things he or she would feel. You may use some short one word answers, but do not make each line only a few words. You should try to provide support from the novel to really develop this poem so that it reveals information and insight about the character you select.
I am (2 characteristics your character has)
I wonder (something your character wonders)
I hear (something real or imaginary your character hears)
I see (something real or imaginary your character sees)
I want (something your character desires)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)
I pretend (something your character pretends to do)
I feel (something real or imaginary your character feels emotionally)
I touch (something real or imaginary your character would touch physically)
I worry (something your characters worries about)
I cry (something that makes your character upset)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)
I understand (something your character knows)
I say (something your character believes in)
I dream (something your character would dream about)
I try (something your character makes an effort to do)
I hope (something your character hopes for)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)
Activity One: In your writing avoid overusing words. Also, avoid using vague, non-specific language whenever possible. Make the following sentences better by changing the underlined word and writing a replacement in the space provided.
1. Bad things happened to Melinda. ________________________
2. Bad things happened to Melinda. ________________________
3. Melinda disliked school so she cut class a lot. ________________________
4. Melinda disliked school so she cut class a lot. ________________________
5. Melinda was just able to survive her freshman year. ________________________
6. It is hard to survive in high school with no friends. ________________________
7. Melinda wanted more friends. ________________________
8. There were some horrible people to deal with. ________________________
9. Some horrible things were going on. ________________________
10. It was definitely a difficult time to live through. ________________________
11. It was definitely a difficult time to live through. ________________________
12. It was really scary for Melinda at the party. ________________________
13. She just wanted to get out alive. ________________________
14. Melinda wanted to be happy like everyone else. ________________________
15. Melinda’s life is very sad. ________________________
16. Melinda’s life is very sad. ________________________
Activity Two: Now make a list of synonyms (words that mean the same thing or something very similar) for the following overused words.
Speak Vocabulary Group 1 Activity
1. I don’t have time to answer. The lights dim and the ______________________ of principles begins.
2. My first class is biology. I can’t find it and get my first ______________________.
3. I scan the cafeteria for a friendly face or an ______________________ and discreet corner.
4. Art, a ______________________ and comfortable place, follows lunch, like dream follows nightmare.
5. Principal Principal spots another ______________________ student in the hall, a stray in the hall.
6. Rachel’s smudging mascara under her eyes to look exhausted and ______________________.
7. Just a ______________________ -friend, disposable friend. Friend as accessory.
8. My stuffed rabbits inhabit my room; and now I have the closet as a ____________________ to hide in.
9. And they cheer on our boys, ______________________ them to violence and, we hope, victory.
10. We are all ______________________, trying to find our clumsy way amid the confusion of school.