Unit 5: Teen Angst

Anchor Text: Oedipus

  • Purpose: This ancient text by Sophocles is an excellent example of the universality of suffering. Because the titular character suffers in an extreme and unique way, students will be able to see how the same emotions can carry across cultural, temporal, and many other borders. This text will also be highly engaging to the OHS students because it deals with issues that are grotesquely intriguing, and which would pique the interest of any student of high school age. This text will be used as an anchor for our “Teen Angst / Universal Suffering” unit.
  • Lexile: 1070

Supplementary Texts:

  • “A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune” by Chris Crutcher
  • “Was It That I Went To Sleep” by Ono Komachi
  • “When I Went to Visit” by Ki Tsurayuki
  • “Sir Galahad” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • “To Helene” by Pierre de Ronsard
  • “Federigo’s Falcon” from The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
  • Daria
  • Angus
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Footloose
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story (movie)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  • “Teenagers Today Work Harder Than We Did” by Fiona Millar
  • “It Isn’t Easy Being a Teenager These Days” by John Topley
  • Various songs, used as activators or mini-lessons on figurative language, etc.:
    • “Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)” by Cracker
    • “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister
    • “The Wall” by Pink Floyd / Korn
    • “Airplanes” by BOB
    • “Rock Bottom” by Eminem
    • “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus
    • “Teenage Wasteland” by The Who
    • “In the Garage” by Weezer
    • “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” by Weezer
    • “JAR” by Green Day
    • “My Generation” by The Who
    • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
    • “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
    • “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182
    • “We Are Young” by Fun.
    • “Forever Young” by Jay-Z

Strategy Toolbox:

  • Pre-reading activities:
    • Value line
    • Predictions about Oedipus
    • Oedipus background information
    • Song lyrics as poetry
    • Thinking maps
    • Theme definitions, theme background information, universal themes, identify the theme
  • During reading activities:
    • Stop-and-think activities
    • Students reading the play aloud
    • Poetry readings from other characters’ perspectives
    • More song lyrics, the universality of suffering
    • Theme matching activities
    • Universal themes
  • Post-reading activities:
    • Alternative book report over choice YA novel
    • Value line revisiting
    • Argumentative writing over theme, what is the theme, name a theme and prove it, etc.
    • Essay writing, persuasive opinion piece

Writing Prompt:

Argumentative: What does it mean to suffer? Is suffering truly universal? In the book Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy says “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In contrast, however, Martin Luther King Jr. said that everyone suffers: “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” What do you think? Does the current generation suffer more or from worse things than past generations have – in other words, is life for you worse than it was for your parents? Teenagers often think that their life is harder than anyone else’s life has ever been, and likewise, adults often think that their own youth was a much simpler, easier time. What is your opinion? Does life continue to get worse and worse, or does everyone suffer to the same degree?

Write an essay in which you respond to the above questions. Your essay should meet the following criteria:

  • At least 1000 words.
  • MLA Formatting
  • Formal Style – no 1st person, contractions, slang, etc.
  • You should answer all of the questions posed to you above in a full and complete manner. Remember to respond to the prompt, not just write how awful your life is.
  • Proper grammar and conventions, and stylistically engaging.
  • Your essay must be submitted on or before the due date. Late essays will not be accepted, as I will not have time to grade them before the semester is over.

You will be graded based on the argumentative writing rubric that we have used all semester. This rubric can be found on the class blog if you would like to see it. Our grammatical focus for this unit is the semicolon, so I will be expecting you to show command of this style of punctuation within your essay. Good luck!

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