Young Adult Lit/Crit

May 7, 2008

A Reflection on my “Sex” Seminar

Filed under: seminar feedback — jexter1 @ 7:49 pm

Today I presented my seminar on The Subjects of Sex & Sexual Content in YA Literature, and discovered more about myself as a “teacher,” learner, and communicator. This research project, so to speak, is an excellent way to explore several areas of education: extension activities, critically reading professional/journal articles, reading different styles of writing and genres (fiction, sci-fi, free verse poetry), and public speaking. All of the aforementioned strategies and practices should be part of the teacher-life and student-life. I discovered from my seminar, especially the research and formation of my extension activities, how crucial it is to let students choose what they read and write about (within reason, of course), be interactive, and use multiple lens’ and resources in the discovery of their points of view.

I particularly enjoyed sharing my extension activities and the texts that I brought with me. I got the impression that the text selection and variety in genres were my top strengths of the seminar. With so many books to choose from, educators, parents, and librarians must realize the prevalence sex has in teen lives. As I emphasized several times in my seminar, it is not about what adults are comfortable with, it is about what young adults/teens are interested in and doing.

Lastly, without a doubt, I would use the extension activities I proposed in my seminar. Each activity has the underlying theme of sex and critical thought on the topic, but also asks for the reader to utilize writing skills. My activities include a persuasive essay/speech that supports or opposes the censorship of Judy Blume’s FOREVER and then is read in front of a sister English class. After being read, the English class votes on who has the best opposing argument and who has the best supporting argument. The second activity, on Chris Lynch’s INEXCUSABLE, is a class debate that I assign half to be on the side of Kier, a boy accused of date raping a girl, and the other half on Gigi’s side, the victim. The final activity incorporates music and lyrics. Students find songs that could be the themes for each of the three girls’ stories in A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL, by Tanya Lee Stone. After finding songs, the students must write one addition entry for each girls’ story in the voices of the girls AND in the style of the author (free verse). This studies poetic structure and could segue into a unit/lesson on poetry. The first 2 activities require outside research of news articles, research articles, interviews, etc., so the students all practice their research skills.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for and presenting my seminar piece. The topic is hot, and I do not believe it will ever cool down. Get used to it! 🙂




  1. The author of “A Bad Boy Can Be Good For a Girl” sent me this email this morning!! Very cool Jessica. KES


    I just came across the blog for your YA Lit course–how fantastic! Just a quick note to say thanks for all you are doing for readers and educators. If any of your students have any questions about writing or YA for me, they are welcome to email.

    All best, Tanya

    Tanya Lee Stone
    A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (Wendy Lamb/Random House)
    Elizabeth Leads the Way (Holt, 2008)
    Up Close: Ella Fitzgerald (Viking, 2008)
    Sandy’s Circus (Viking, 2008)
    Almost Astronauts (Candlewick, 2009)

    Comment by sunyprof — May 8, 2008 @ 8:04 am

  2. Wow, this is so exciting! Thanks for forwarding the message! Another great class gone by…

    Comment by jexter1 — May 8, 2008 @ 10:57 am

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