YAL - Young Adult Literature Presenter Unit 2015/2016



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It's a Kind of Funny Story
by Ned Vizzini


YAL Presenter Unit 2015/2016

Subjects: English
Grade Level: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Posted: 2015, CCSS, Common Core State Standards
Unit Created by: Jeremy Babcock


YAL Conference Workshop Description
Anchors, Tentacles and Mapping Happiness
Jeremy Babcock, Presenter

Happiness. What is it exactly? And, more importantly, how do you achieve it? As children move through adolescence and grow into adults, the emphasis tends to be on traveling the “right” path, going to the “right” school, and becoming a successful member of society. But what is the cost of achieving success? And what is the relationship between happiness and success? The turbulence that often accompanies the teenage years must include a healthy discourse on what it means to be happy and how that definition is unique to every individual.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of ambitious NYC teenager Craig Gilner, who gets into a top high school where the pressure to succeed takes a toll. After a suicidal episode, Craig finds himself in a mental hospital with a cast of characters who serve as unexpected guides on the road to true happiness. Craig makes a number of discoveries by pressing the pause button on his life to gain a better understanding on what is truly important.

This workshop will use themes from the novel to focus on tangible ways to create classroom community with a focus on social-emotional skills. We will explore the book’s “anchors” and “tentacles” metaphor, along with “brain maps” as tools for students to express thoughts and feelings. This workshop will use the humor and the pain of Craig’s story to help us develop better understandings of teen mental illness and depression, along with ways to identify and offer solutions.

Workshop Description for YAL 2015