Lesson Plan: Language Arts
Student Resource: From "Amanda
and the Wounded Birds," by Colby Rodowsky
Media Type: Short Story
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:
- Explain the importance of learning and practicing effective
- Describe some typical sources of stress in the lives of
- Identify resources within the school and community that
teens can turn to when they need help with a problem.
Introducing the Lesson
On the board write the phrase "Hello, calleryou're
on the air." Ask students what this phrase brings to
mind (call-in talk shows). Elicit names of such shows that
students have watched on TV or listened to on the radio, and
have students discuss their format. Emphasize that a common
feature of these programs is providing advice to people who
are faced with problems.
Reveal that the story students are about to read revolves
around just such a show hosted by a fictional psychiatrist,
Dr. Emma Hart, and around one particular caller, a teen named
Amanda. Add that this story has a unique twist: Amanda is
Dr. Hart's daughter.
This tale is told from the point of view of Amanda, the
teen caller. Because the version here is an excerpt of the
longer, full version of the story, some background information
will need to be provided to students. Explain that:
- Amanda is the only child of a single parent.
- Amanda is faced with stressful problems that are typical
of the teen years.
- The "wounded birds" of the title is Dr. Hart's
affectionate name for her callers.
Because of the story's length, even in its abbreviated form,
you may wish to have students read it aloud, with different
students taking different parts.
After students have completed the reading, you may either
use the following as class discussion questions or assign
them as individual or group work.
- Summarizing.What problem does Amanda tell Dr. Hart
about during her first call to the program? What advice
does Dr. Hart give her?
- Analyzing. What is Dr. Hart's assessment of Amanda's
relationship with her mother? Do you agree with this assessment?
Why or why not?
- Evaluating. How many personal problems altogether
does Amanda mention having in the story? Which of those
do you think is the most difficult to deal with as a teen?
Explain your answer.
- Synthesizing. One critic, in reviewing "Amanda
and the Wounded Birds," commented that Amanda ends
up "giving her mother a dose of her own medicine."
Explain the meaning of this remark in the context of the
- Extending. What does this story teach about the
importance of strong communication skills?
- Analyzing. Amanda chooses in the story to phone
the "Dr. Emma Hart Show." Name other resources
in your school or community that a teen in Amanda's situation
could turn to for help with a problem.
Integrating Literature and Health
Identify some common problems that teens often face. Working
with a partner, take turns role-playing talk show host and
caller. The caller is responsible for coming up with a problem
typical of the teen years. The host is responsible for devising
a solution to this problem. Together, decide which problem-solution
pair you find to be most useful and present it to the class,
either orally or in written form.