"Tears of a Tiger," written by Sharon Draper, is a young adult novel that's appropriate for middle-school and high-school students. The key theme is about dealing with guilt and depression after the death of a friend. Lesson plans should focus on relevant teen issues, such as drinking and driving, suicide, depression and coping with loss. Students can discuss the story as a class, make artwork to support teen causes, practice role-playing teen-related scenarios and compare the tone and mood in the book with the audio version.
Drinking and Driving Posters
Focus on the central theme about the dangers of drinking and driving. In the story, high-school basketball player, Robbie, dies in a fiery car accident because his teammate, Andy, was drinking and driving. Discuss how the theme plays out during the course of the story -- setting, character development, conflict, resolution, climax, tone and mood, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative for seventh graders. Have your class make anti-drinking-and-driving posters, using markers and printed images from the Internet. Provide art supplies, and showcase the finished posters in your classroom or hallway.
Examine how the story is told from several points of view and discuss how those viewpoints influence the reader's feelings about the characters and events. Have your class take turns role-playing similar scenarios, such as apologizing to Robbie's parents for drinking and driving, encouraging a friend to work through the guilt or forgiving a peer for making a mistake. Because the story is sad and somewhat troublesome, you might ask your class to write out what they would say or do in similar situations if role-playing seems too mature. Ask volunteers to read their papers aloud.
Brochures on Teen Issues
Have each student choose a teen issue or a conflict that's represented in the story and create an informative brochure about it, suggests middle-school teacher Ana Hernandez on the Annenberg Learner website. Brochures might be about drinking and driving, suicide, depression, peer pressure, anxiety, communication issues with parents, stress, or coping with death and loss. Each brochure must include facts and suggestions for dealing with these types of problems. Make sure your students have access to the Internet and school library to conduct their research. Provide the necessary art supplies or software programs for the brochures.
Audio Story Comparisons
Listen to prerecorded segments from the story on a compact disc or a downloaded audio e-book. Compare and contrast the written story with the audio excerpts, according to the Common Core. Make a two-column chart on a whiteboard or blackboard and discuss any differences -- mood, tone, emotional elements, viewpoint changes and overall style. Take a vote -- by the raising of hands -- as to whether the students like the written version or audio version better.
- Annenberg Learner: Whole-Class Literature Discussion on Tears of a Tiger
- Murphey Middle School: Tears of a Tiger Unit
- Sharon Draper: Tears of a Tiger Study Guide
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: English Language Arts Standards -- Reading -- Literature -- Grade 7
- Tears of a Tiger; Sharon Draper
- Photo Credit Mark Bowden/iStock/Getty Images
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