Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :
Pre-step…before sharing the published model: Have students take out a sheet of paper and give them this writing prompt: Think about a time when you faced a choice. Write about the choice you faced and how you made your final decision. Describe the process you went through to come to your decision. What were some of the thoughts and emotions you felt as you came to a decision? What outside influences may have helped you make the decision? Did you think about the consequences, or did you focus more on what felt right at the moment? Did you learn any lessons from the choice you made?
Before beginning the lesson, explain to students that Crank is a novel that is loosely based on a true story about Ellen Hopkins’ daughter and her choice to try meth for the first time. Ellen Hopkins writes the novel from her daughter’s point of view in order to better understand her daughter’s choices and her role as a mother in those choices. The novel deals with Kristina’s decision to walk with the “monster”, crank, and her struggle to deal with the intense addiction she experiences after her very first experience with it.
Also explain to students that this story is not written in a typical format. The author has creatively told Kristina’s story through short episodic poems. At this point, it is beneficial to discuss this format with students and decide what the pros and cons of telling a story in this way might be. Brainstorm a list together as a class of what those pros and cons of poetic story telling might be in order to prepare students for what they will be reading.
Step one (sharing the published model): Explain to students that Kristina experiences a few turning points in the novel in which it seems as though she could try to leave some of her bad choices behind her and start over. In the excerpts students will read, they will be looking for those turning points and how Kristina’s thoughts and actions keep her on the path of addiction.
Read the following excerpts from Crank with the students: (Again, you will want to preview the material before sharing it with your students to be sure it is age appropriate.)
- “The Phone, Still in My Hand, Rang”
- “At Least I Had the House to Myself”
- “Suddenly, However”
- “My Luck Ran Out”
- “It Got Worse”
- “All Thoughts of Bad Habits”
- “Mom Knocked on My Door”
After reading these excerpts, have students fill in the “Turning Points” graphic organizer. You may want to have students share their ideas from their graphic organizer as a class and discuss the ideas they come up with from the reading.
Now tell students that they will be writing their own story about a character facing a decision by using the same writing style as Ellen Hopkins. Students will write a series of six poems that tell the story of a character’s choice. As a class, have students share what they really liked about how this story is told through poetry and discuss any ideas they may want to borrow from Hopkins’ writing when telling their own story.