Boy Meets Boy Brought Home
Unit Overview
This unit is designed to address themes of sexual orientation and identity with special emphasis on how these themes exist in high schools of today. We will use the high school and town from David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy to bring these themes into the open and then later as objects for comparisons to our high school and town. During this unit students will be immersed into the lives of openly homosexual teenage boys and girls, drag queens who are also star quarterbacks, parents who are homophobic, and parents who are not. Students will find themselves faced with situations and topics that might make them uncomfortable and many might not know how to respond at first. Some students might find the topics of sexual orientation and identity deeply personal, while it might be other student’s first time really addressing the issue. Throughout the unit students should realize that these themes are more relevant to their lives than they might have even realized before. Students who are relatively new to the topic can react, analyze, and review their own personal reactions to same sex affection and relationships through literature before having to go through this growth when they deal with them in their daily life.
By the end of the unit it is of the paramount importance that students have thoroughly worked through the themes of sexual orientation and identity. They should have a much better understanding of their own personal beliefs on the topic and just importantly how those themes play out in their own school. They should have answers to questions like: Are there openly homosexual students in their school/lives? How many? Are those students treated any differently by their peers, their teachers, and the rest of the community? What is different about their high school and the school in Boy Meets Boy? Would they like it if their school became more like the school in Boy Meets Boy? Why or why not? Could any of the characters in Boy Meets Boy exist in their school? Would Infinite Darlene be treated any differently than she is in the book? Is that fair? I want students by the end of the unit to have a strong personal stance on the topic and be active in ways to improve any wrongs in their school.
While I believe Boy Meets Boy is an exceptional book for addressing issues of sexual orientation and identity in adolescents, both its strength and its weak points come from its setting. Boy Meets Boy takes place in a high school that is borderline utopian when it comes to its unmatched acceptance of individuality. While this illustrates how these issues should be handled in schools, it might make it harder for students to personally connect with those issues. Because of this, students will also read short stories from Am I Blue in literature circles during the course of the unit. Many of these are set in grittier more realistic schools and communities than Boy Meets Boy. Each literature circle group will attack one of the short stories and present it (and the issues it addresses) to the class at large. This way the class will come in contact with many stories from many different points of view.
Students will explore the topic of sexual orientation in a variety of ways: through discussions (whole class and small group), through reading, and through writing. Students will be asked to write from the viewpoint of any of the characters from Boy Meets Boy, to understand and create a utopian school setting of their own, and to write a “state of the union” type speech that addresses the current day state of these themes in their school. Their final project will be a portfolio of all the pieces they have created throughout the unit.
Expectations and Accommodations
This unit is designed with the intention of accommodating all reading levels. The main reading, Boy Meets Boy, will be attacked in small sections and recapped every day by the class. At least once a week during the unit we will read the novel out loud in class (as a group, as small groups, with me reading, or an audiobook) in order to help students stay caught up. The literature circles will use works of differing difficulties which will help accommodate diverse reading levels. The expectations will be set by modelling examples of outstanding work and thoughtful discussion during the unit. The entire class as a unit will create the rubric for the final portfolio, so expectations are clear and agreed upon. We will address the topics as a class at the beginning of the unit to model how these issues should be addressed.
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.7

Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts" and Breughel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Unit Outline
Day 1: Introduction of Boy Meets Boy & themes, class discussion, pre-write
Days 2,3,4: Read, discuss (5-20 minute mini lessons on writing/reading)
Day 5: Read out loud in class, relax, enjoy
Days 6-9: Discuss and start writing activities
Days 10: Read out loud in class, “paint music”
Days 11-14: Get in future literature circles, discuss in small groups, peer edit writing activities
Day 15: Listen to audiobook ending of Boy Meets Boy, and the interview with the audiobook’s cast members that follow. Write own answers to interview questions over the weekend.
Days 16-18: Literature Circles with short stories from Am I Blue, work on presentations
Days 19-20: Present literature circles and individual works.









Lesson Plan: Reader Response
“Painting Music”
Overview: This lesson is intended to bring out a personal connection, in line with reader response theory, to the text and music. We will read a section of Boy Meets Boy where Noah teaches Paul how to paint music out loud. Then as a class we will try our own hands at painting music, both with drawings and in free writing.
Materials Needed: Copies of Boy Meets Boy, device for audio, theme appropriate songs, art supplies (colored pencils, markers, crayons), paper, doc cam or whiteboard
Lesson Goal: To explore an escape idea presented in the text and make personal connections to it. Build relationships and sense of community in class as everybody shares their own personal “paintings” of the music.
Procedures:
  • Read section where Noah teaches Paul to paint music out loud as a class.
  • Have students get art supplies and “paint” two different songs
  • Discuss free writing and read piece from Gary Provost
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.
Now listen.
I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings.
It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony.
I use short sentences.
And I use sentences of medium length.
And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals – sounds that say listen to this, it is important” Gary Provost
  • Discuss piece and free-writing
  • Practice “painting/free-writing” music.
  • Have students free write the two songs they “painted earlier”
  • Have students get together in small groups and share the music they painted and the free writing that went along with it.
  • Conclusion, discuss if any themes came up in the painting/free-writing. Did any thoughts show up in art that wouldn’t have if they had been writing?