Pre-Reading Questions 1. After reading the back cover what do you think this story is about? - What makes you think this? - What predictions can you make about the characters or conflicts? - What expectations do you have of this novel? 2. After looking at the cover art what clues do you gain? - Why do you think headphones are important to the novel? - Why do you think the city is important to the novel? - Do you think the color scheme is important to the novel? 3. This novel has won the stonewall book award (GLBT book award) have you read other material with lgbtq characters? - what expectations do you have the characters? - What struggles do you think lgbtq characters face? - what information do you know about the lgbtq community? 4. What do you know about the author kirstin cronn-mills? - What other material have you read by this author? - What expectations do you have of her as an author? - Why do you think she decided to write this book? 5. AFter scanning through the book are you excited to read? - What clues did you gain from the chapter titles? - What clues did you gather about the conflict or characters? - What questions do you hope are answered after reading this novel?
Reader Response Questions 1. Do you know anyone who has "come out"? - What was their experience like? - did they have a support system? - what were some of the difficulties they faced?
2. What do you think about the title of the book? - do you feel it is positive to the LGBTq community? - do you feel it is offensive? - does it create a stigma?
3. What are your feelings towards the character Paige? - would you want paige as a friend? - is she supportive and sympathetic to gabe? - what qualities make her a good friend to gabe?
4. What do you think of Gabe's parents? - are they supportive of gabes hardships? - why do you think they are not supportive? - if you were in gabes position how would this strained parental relationship affect you?
5. What are your feelings towards the character Mara? - Do you understand her actions? - have you ever had an experience with a person like this? - do you think gabe should consider her a friend?
6. How do you feel the lgbtq community fits into modern culture? - what difficulties might they encounter? in the private and public domain? - what are some difficulties realities they must face? - Do you feel our society is moving in a more accepting direction of the lgbtq community?
7. Do you think the story would be different if the POV changed? - in what ways does gabe's pov affect the story? - Do you feel gabe is a reliable narrator? - Does gabe have a bias or agenda? - what would the story be like if his parents told it?
8. Were you familiar with the music in the novel? - How did this affect your experience? - Why do you think music is so important to gabe? - Do you think these songs are significant to gabe's story?
9. In what ways do you most connect with gabe? - do his parental relationship seem familiar? - are his difficulties navigating romantic relationships familiar? - do the torment of his bullies and oppressors seem familiar? - do you have more in common with gabe or less in common with gabe?
10. What did you think of the ending of the novel? - is the ending realistic? - would you change the ending of the novel? - what are your expectations for gabe's future?
Interpretative Community questions 1. What community do you think Gabe most identifies himself in? - what are some struggles this community faces? -what other communities do you think he identifies within?
2. How do you think Gabe would fit in within your own school community? -Would his challenges be similar or different from the book?
3. What challenges do you think Gabe will encounter in the u.s as a trans-man? - will it be harder for him to find jobs to support himself?
4. It's easy for me to see portrayals of the white, middle-class, female experience in media. is this the same for gabe? -How do you think this affects gabe?
5 What are some themes that you can identify in this novel? - Can you easily relate to them? -Have you read other books with these themes?
6. Some of you may know the ftm chaz bono (cher's bio-fem daughter0 how do you feel her transition was received in the media? - what about bruce jenner rumors? - what do you the media responded in this way?
7. How did you previous knowledge of the trans-gender experience change after reader this novel?
8. In the novel gabe doesn't seek out professional help. what resources are there for people struggling with lgbtq difficulties?
9. 2012 saw the 4th highest murder rate of lgbtq and hiv-affected people (lgbtqh) in history...why do you think there are so many hate crimes/abuse/violence against the lgbtq community.
10. Do you think gabe's experience as a young trans-man accurately represents a real world experience of a trans-man?
Critical synthesis questions 1. Gabe encourages the ugly children brigade to vandalize property. do you think gabe should be in trouble with the law? (moral theory) - What moral lesson is taught with this text? - how does gabe support or corrupt moral principles? - what are the moral issues being explored in this text?
2. why do you think the author chose to reference elvis and other pop culture stars in the chapter titles? (cultural theory) - Why do you think the author chose to use elvis? - do the references to pop culture help to interest you in the text? - why does gabe idolize elvis?
3. Gabe is in his senior of high school when he "comes out" as gabe. Why do you think gabe repressed his true identity for so long? (psychoanalytic Theory) - what role did his parents play in this decision? - what do you think are gabes motives? - what are the dynamics of the family?
4. What socio-economic class do you think gabe and his family live in? (marxist theory) - why do you think gabe's parents encouraged him getting a job? - what is gabe's attitude towards education/college? - What values does this book reinforce?
5. Does the author present this text in a way that is true to the lgbtq narrative? (queer theory) - what does this work reveal about transphobia? - How does this work contribute to your understanding of the lgbtq community? - does the author present this text with an agenda or bias?
6. Which group(s) in the novel are considered or treated as "others?" Does the novel serve to empower the "others" or further separate them? (Post-Colonialism) -where do you see an "Us vs. them" mentality present? -what is considered "normal" culture in this novel? -is this representation of culture accurate in comparison with how you experience your culture? 7. how does this novel work to reinforce gender stereotypes? (feminist theory) - how is power shown in women and men? - how do characters represent masculine and feminine traits? - how is the relationships between male and females portrayed?
8. How does this novel show different representations of sexuality? (theory of gender and sexuality) - what does this text say about identification of sexuality? - Does this text privilege the male or female form?
Student-Led Discussion ACtivities Character Interviews This activity should be used after the class is at least half way through the novel. three to five students will be chosen to take on the role of characters in the book. Characters that may be used for this novel are gabe, paige, john, and gabe's mother or father. These students should be told at least one class period ahead of time what character they will be playing so they can prepare in advance. The rest of the class will be required to write at least two questions for an interview with each of the characters. The questions must all be open-ended. Students will also be required to write possible answers to one question they have written for each character. During the interview, characters will move to the front of the class one at a time as the students ask them questions. Each student must ask at least one of their questions before the class is over. If the characters struggle to answer a question, they may ask for help from another student. This activity will help students see the issues in the story from multiple perspectives and give them practice asking and answering good discussion questions. Below is a handout for this activity.
Silent Discussion A silent discussion is similar to a message board or a group chat. In this assignment you will be divided into small groups and each of you will have a different prompt based on the novel Beautiful Music For Ugly Children. Each person will start their discussion with a statement based on his/her prompt. You will exchange your discussion with another member of your group and respond on his/her prompt/topic. Use the story as a reference to back up any points you make, include quotes from the story to strengthen your arguments, and feel free to ask a question as part of your response. After you have made a comment, trade papers with another member of your group, read the comments and write another response. It is ok to comment on a page more than once. Your goal is to keep these discussions going and build on them so try to phrase your responses to elicit a response. Avoid closed statements like just saying that you agree with the previous statement, or asking yes/no questions. Put your name or initial next to each “post” you write to make things easier to follow.
Pass-Around Discussion Students will be split into groups of three of four students. Students will each be given a 3x5 index card with one teacher-decided question on them. This questions should serve to guide the students writing. give students time to brainstorm two more questions to write down on the card. the question should be reflective, personal and open-ended. when students have completed this they will pass the index cards to the left. the students will read through all the questions and choose one to answer. give students 2-3 minutes to write down a response on notebook paper. students will then read aloud their question and response. when they are done they cross out their question on the index card and pass the card to begin the pass-around again. continue the pass around until all the questions have been crossed out.
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