Alice Kinney
Dr. Allen Web
English 4800
12 October 2015
Teaching Sexuality for 11th and 12th Grade ELA Classrooms

external image 41DR6MQAQDL.jpgexternal image onesheet.jpgexternal image The_Perks_of_Being_a_Wallflower_Poster.jpgexternal image o-SPEAK-BAN-facebook.jpgexternal image Streetcar_original.jpg

I. Introduction
Sexuality can be an awkward topic: especially for those who are just starting to discover it. But it is also an important topic to discuss and explore during high school. Many high school students graduate with little more than a middle school health class to guide them through the complexities of sexuality, which is why I believe this topic should be covered in high school English classes. The following unit content would be intended to be covered throughout the course of a semester. The topic of sexuality is deep and wide and should be considered from many different perspectives and forms of literature. By giving students an entire semester to understand this topic you would eliminate the perceived "awkwardness" of a Sexuality Week that students may dread. Instead, you'd replace that with a content-rich semester (or trimester) of sexuality related themes and literature. You would have time to branch out into the different limbs of sexuality such as sex trafficking, sex abuse, rape culture, sexual health, STDs/STIs, gender roles, and sexual preferences to name a few. It would even give your students time to preform research on a sexuality-related topic of their choice. Below you will find these ideas and more!

II. Reasoning
Of course, anytime a teacher considers covering a topic like sexuality, he or she must consider its relevance to today’s society. By asking questions like: “How can I use current events to supplement this topic?,” “Why does this topic matter in the lives of my students?,” and, “Who does this topic effect?” a teacher can better understand how to create a cultural studies unit. These were just some of the questions that I asked myself before creating the unit which in the end, led to the development of a stronger reasoning behind my unit:
Sexuality is something that a vast majority of humans experience, and often times they start this experience during high school: whether it is a first relationship, a break-up, abuse, or even rape; sexuality has a lot to do with growing up. Using literature, writing, and discussion as mediums and outlets for exploring the topic of sexuality can lead to eye-opening discussions, opportunities for growth, community involvement, and the building of bridges with populations around the world.

III. Literature
While there are many texts that would serve as effective guides for teaching sexuality, the following text set represents a vast array of literature form different times, perspectives, and themes:

1.) The play A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams
I believe that the classic play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is an interesting and appropriate text for this topic. Not only does it expose students to a play, but it also serves as a good introductory piece to sexuality because it leaves room for a lot of interpretation. (A Streetcar Named Desire can be found as a free PDF at:

2.) The once banned book The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorn
One of the most commonly taught books in U.S. secondary schools, The Scarlet Letter explores themes of relationships, sex, cheating, love, marriage, morals, religion, and family. It is often perceived as being dry and dense but could easily be brought to life by exploring these themes and relating them to present-day scenarios.

3.) The movie Easy A, directed by Will Gluck
A great way to bring The Scarlet Letter to life is through a current film. Easy A is a comical adaption of Easy A and expands the above mentioned themes into sexual orientation. This also serves as a great transition into the next book-movie combination: Perks of Being a Wallflower.

4.) The book Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
This coming of age story has proven to be a relatable tale to many high school students. It would help students transition form older literature to more modern versions of sexuality-related text.

5.) The movie Perks of Being a Wallflower, directed by Stephen Chbosky
This is a movie that could be watched at home or in an after school showing so that it did not detract from class time. It does have some inappropriate scenes and therefore students and parents should be made aware of this. This movie features well-known actors and actresses.

6.) The book Speak, by Laurie Anderson
"Speak, published in 1999, is Laurie Halse Anderson's young adult novel that tells the story of high school student Melinda Sordino. After accidentally busting an end-of-summer party due to an unnamed incident, Melinda is ostracized by her peers because she will not say why she called the police. Unable to verbalize what happened, Melinda nearly stops speaking altogether, expressing her voice through the art she produces for Mr. Freeman's class. This expression slowly helps Melinda acknowledge what happened, face her problems, and recreate her identity" (Wikipedia).

7.) Poems, articles, and current event stories pertaining to sexuality
This would be a good time for students to research the topic on their own by finding interesting and current poetry and articles about sexuality.

IV. Methods
The best way to teach sexuality is to break it down into several themes and use the cultural studies approach to build on background knowledge and explore some uncharted territory. Some of these themes include: Sexual Orientation, Sex Trafficking, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Relationships, Sexual Abuse, and Gender Roles. While it is easy to touch on one or two of these topics during a video clip, an article, a book, or a poem, these themes should merge together throughout an entire semester. By doing so students will have a more well-rounded idea of what sexuality truly is; they will get to see varying perspectives, work with different genres, and figure out how this topic connects to the rest of the world.

V. Student Involvement
One of the trademarks of the cultural studies approach is student involvement in the community. By the end of the unit, students should understand the topic on a personal, local, national, and international level; and they should be able to involve themselves at any one of those levels (given the proper time and resources). For sexuality, I believe that if a variety of the above mentioned themes are taught, students will have the knowledge and experience necessary to begin work in the community in several different ways. First, and depending on the resources and services available in the community, students could become a sexual health peer educator. A sexual health peer educator is someone who is trained in many areas of sexuality and sexual health and is able to maturely discuss sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual health with peers. Second, a student could become an advocate for speaking up about sexual violence and rape, maybe even starting a fundraiser to support a women’s shelter that focuses on sexual abuse victims. Third, a student could start a school-wide campaign that encourages healthy relationships by educating students in areas such as sexually transmitted infections, consent, and the signs of sexual abuse. While there are many variations of each of these ideas, and many different ways to become involved as well, it is easy to see that this topic can lead to involvement. I believe that this stage of the cultural studies approach is one of the most important because it can, and often does, have a long-term effect on the students’ lives.

VI. Objectives
Throughout the reading of A Streetcar Named Desire, students will be expected to meet the following objectives (these objectives also serve as a good way to help teachers keep track of student progress and understanding):
1.) Students will understand how and why loneliness affects people in different ways
2.) Students will understand that sexuality is a powerful and natural force that has the capability of creating and destroying life
3.) Students can identify the clash between civilized lifestyles/mindsets and primitive lifestyles/mindsets by using examples from A Streetcar Named Desire
4.) Students will be able to interpret the influence of their past on their daily life
5.) Students will be able to discuss the loss of innocence and how it is represented in A Streetcar Named Desire
6.) Students will be able to explain the relationship between sex and death
7.) Students will be able to identify symbols that appear in A Streetcar Named Desire and explain their significance

Throughout the rest of the sexuality semester, there will be different literature used in class. With each text, different objectives must be accomplished. Below are several overarching unit objectives or big ideas that should be focused on throughout the semester as a whole:
1.) Sexuality does not equal sex
2.) There are serious issues related to sexuality that affect every area of the world (Sexually transmitted infections, sex trafficking, gay rights, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, and rape to name a few)
3.) Being aware of sexuality does not make you gross, slutty, or horny; just well-educated.

VII. Lesson Plans
A Streetcar Named Desire is only one piece of literary work that will be covered during the sexuality semester, below is an outline for the time spent on A Streetcar Named Desire (three week unit). This also includes the introductory lesson plan.
Week One:
Day One—Introduction to sexuality as a semester long topic
Day Two—Scene 1
Day Three—Scene 2
Day Four—Scene 2
Day Five—Scene 3
Week Two:
Day One—Current event article related to mental illness
Day Two—Scene 4
Day Three—Scene 5
Day Four—Scene 6
Day Five—Scene 6
Week Three:
Day One—Poem related to sexual violence
Day Two—Scene 7, 8
Day Three—Scene 9
Day Four—Scene 10, 11
Day Five—Unit conclusion, transition into Perks of Being a Wallflower

Day 1 Lesson Plan
Alice Kinney ¨ October 12th, 2015

Lesson Objectives:
(Key knowledge and skills students should achieve in the lesson)

Students will… Understand why we study sexuality
Students will… Understand the importance of genre throughout the semester
Students will… Be able to identify the different themes present under sexuality
Students will… Be able to create and post to their blog
Lesson Structure:

Required Materials
Anticipatory Set:

2:00 – 2:10

Attendance check
Attendance Sheet
Direct Instruction:

2:15 – 2:40
Reverse spiral discussion: sexuality as a semester-long topic
Fishbowl discussion: Themes amongst sexuality
Introduction to G.A.P.C.a.T

Desks, Chairs

Guided Practice:

2:40 – 2:55
Blog creation and first post
Quick Write: Why blog?
Blogs, Computers
Blogs, Computers

3:30 – 3:40
Expectations for class maturity and participation

Independent Practice:


G.A.P.C.a.T. anticipation guide for A Streetcar Named Desire

Worksheet, Text
Quick Write: Why Blog? (first writing sample)

VIII. Semester Project
In every English class, it is important to implement a project to which students will be continuously dedicated. One strong example of this type of project is a blog. This is a place where students can expand upon the reading from class, post and discuss current events, share poetry and articles related to the reading, and practice their reading and writing skills on a regular basis. I would require each student to create a blog using a site such a Weebly, Wordpress, or Tumblr and post to it on a weekly basis. A semester-long project can also include discussion boards by using sites such as NiceNet.

IX. Final Project
The final project for this section of the sexuality unit will be a reimagined scene from the original play. Student groups will be asked to
1.) Select one scene from the play
2.) Reimagine the play by using different language, setting, tone, and characters
3.) Rewrite the original scene to fit the group’s interpretation
4.) Assign roles to each group member
5.) Rehearse
6.) Make any necessary changes or revisions
7.) Preform the reimagined piece in front of the class
8.) Write a reflective piece about what the original scene meant to each student and why and how the group created the reimagined scene
9.) Write a group review to help decide the final grade
10.) Provide feedback to all other groups

X. Grading
The grading for this class will be based on several main factors:
1.) Preparation before class
2.) Participation in class discussions
3.) Blog quality and consistency
4.) Completion of final projects
5.) Use of effort and creativity

XI. Accommodations
In order to make the objectives of this unit, and the class as a whole, achievable for all students, there will be an audio version that can be listened to prior to reading, there will also be time in class for reading, and discussion. Since this is a play, it is fairly light text, making it a good introductory piece for the sexuality semester.

XII. Materials and Resources
In order to successfully complete this unit, the following material will be necessary:
1.) Copies of A Streetcar Named Desire in print and online
2.) Computers for research and blogs
3.) Pens, pencils, erasers, and paper
4.) Current event story
5.) English Journal article
6.) Poem about sexual violence
7.) Attendance and grade sheet
8.) Internet
9.) Flash drive or cloud storage

Created by: Alice Kinney