Mental Health


Author(s): Matt de la Pena & Loren Long


Social Justice focus: Love

Synopsis: This moving book reveals the presence of love in every aspect of life. Its characters reflect a variety of abilities and cultures. The message is that love is found during difficult times as well as joyous, and is with us from birth through the various passages of our lives.

Lesson Plan: Teddy Spassova

Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Building Empathy Around Social Justice Through Creative Monologue Writing

Grade: 6

Lesson: The purpose of this three-part lesson is to explore inferencing the greater ideas from seemingly simple short story books and their illustrations. Moreover, creative monologue writing is practiced as a form of written and then dramatic expression, in accordance to the development of a point of view. An important underlying theme in this lesson is empathy building, as social justice themes are critically analyzed.

The picture book in this lesson, “Love”, by Matt de la Peña, explores issues of growing up and facing the challenges in the world. The main idea of the book is that as we are growing older, we realize that we face many challenges and may sometimes feel vulnerable and even unloved. There is pain that can exist in us and in the world and we need to recognize that we must be strong, loving and empathetic towards ourselves and each other, because everyone is deserving of this kind of love.

Curriculum Areas: Language Arts, Arts; Dramatic Arts, Empathy & Current Events

Curriculum Expectations:
B1. Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process to process drama and the development of drama works, using the elements and conventions of drama to communicate feelings, ideas, and multiple perspectives

B1.1 engage actively in drama exploration and role play, with a focus on identifying and examining a range of issues, themes, and ideas from a variety of fiction and non-fiction source

Oral Communication
2. use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes;

Vocal Skills and Strategies
2.5 identify a range of vocal effects, including tone, pace, pitch, volume, and a variety of sound effects, and use them appropriately and with sensitivity towards cultural differences to help communicate their meaning

Non-Verbal Cues
2.6 identify a variety of non-verbal cues, including facial expression, gestures, and eye contact, and use them in oral communications, appropriately and with sensitivity towards cultural differences, to help convey their meaning

1. read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning

Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
1.5 develop interpretations about texts using stated and implied ideas to support their interpretations

Extending Understanding
1.6 extend understanding of texts by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them

2. draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;

2.2 establish a distinctive voice in their writing appropriate to the subject and audience

Point of View
2.5 identify their point of view and other possible points of view; determine, when appropriate, if their own view is balanced and supported by the evidence; and adjust their thinking and expression if appropriate

Learning Goal(s): What are students expected to know, do and understand? We are learning to….

Students will be able to make inferences and connections to the world around them from the illustrations and text in the short story picture book.

Students will write their monologues in first person from a character’s point of view, using a convincing character voice.

Students will be able to present the point of view of their character by role playing during their monologue performance.

Students will be able to speak clearly and speak at an effective pace and volume when performing their monologue.

Students will be able to use appropriate facial expressions, gestures and make eye contact with their audience during their monologue performance.

Success Criteria: How will students know they have met the learning goal? I can….

I can make an inference from the illustrations and/or text from the short story picture book.
I can make connections to the world around me from illustrations and/or text from the short story picture book.
I can brainstorm social justice issues that are going on around the world.
I can create a character that might be experiencing a social justice issue.
I can write a creative monologue in the first person, from the point of view of my character, that explains how my character might be feeling, and what my character needs to feel better.
I can role play and be convincing when presenting my character’s monologue to the class.
I can speak clearly, at a good pace and with an appropriate tone during my monologue performance.
I can use convincing facial expressions and gestures while making eye contact with the audience.

MODIFICATIONS / ACCOMMODATIONS How will I meet the needs of my students? Have I addressed any IEPs?

  • Allow extra time during any phase of the lesson, for accommodation
  • Allow use of Google Chromebooks, computer lab or iPads, for writing and typing accommodations (i.e., ELL students can use Google Speech-to-Text, students with fine-motor issues can type)
  • Allow student(s) to present to teacher only, instead of class. Students can also use a video recording App, such as YouTube, to record presentation
  • Use of YouTube video for reading the short story in the Minds-On is for visual/auditory learners
  • Students on the ASD spectrum, or with communication exceptionalities, could be given a guided inquiry to follow instead writing and presenting a monologue
  • Show a model of a written and performance monologue

Minds-on: How will I connect to prior and future learning? How will I engage students and set the context for learning?

Minutes: ~15 – 20 minutes

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

  1. Play/read “Love” by Matt de la Peña from YouTube video (if available, teacher will be holding hard copy of book and changing pages with the video).
  2. When finished, pull up PowerPoint with screenshots of the “piano and child scene” and “family and television” scene.
  3. Next, the individual quick write task (5 minutes):
    Ask students to make inferences about the two scenes presented in front of them on the board. Questions to ask to elicit answers:

    • “What might be going on in these illustrations?”, “What does the author mean here?”, “What inferences can you make and how do you know?”, “Looking at the text and illustrations, what messages is the author conveying?”,
    • “What are some events, big or small, you may have seen being experienced in the world?”,
    • “What are some social justice issues going on in the world around you?”, “How has growing up and maturing impacted what you see in the world and how you feel about it?”, “What are some events around the world that are unfair, sad, terrifying, or important for us to know and understand?”.
  4. Allow students ~5 minutes to write. Allow extra time for any student accommodations.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

The quick write task will allow the teacher to collect evidence for the reading expectations. This will be an assessment for learning with a checklist and the criteria “Met/Not Met”. There will be room for teacher comments.

Action: How will I introduce new learning / reinforce prior learning / practice learning / scaffold learning?

Minutes: ~120 minutes

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

PART 1: Think-Pair-Share

  1. Teacher will have a PowerPoint with the visual prompts that cover social justice issues intended for their monologue tasks. (i.e., these visuals could be of current events like: hurricanes & hurricane relief, people affected by natural disasters or people in protests. The visuals could also be of bullying, environmental issues such as pollution, deforestation, poachers, etc.)
    • Questions to ask students before (and during their monologue writing):
      • “How might those people in these sorts of situations be feeling?”, “What are some current events or social issues that are going on in our world? In our communities?”, “How should we react to social injustice events and what can be done to help those in need?”, “What are some events around the world that are sad, terrifying or important for us to know and understand?”.
  2. Students will be asked to Think-Pair-Share with the person beside them. Students will then be asked to share their discussions.

PART 2: Creative Monologue Writing

  1. Next, teacher will discuss the monologue writing. (NOTE: depending on the students, teacher might have to have had a lesson about monologue writing and performing, or do a lesson about monologue writing/performing in between parts 1 and 2 of the action phase. The teacher could have a model monologue written/performance, to help students as an accommodation).
  2. Next, students will choose a current social event, one that was just discussed or one that they are interested in. Teacher will check-in with each student to make sure ideas are appropriate and on task. For their monologue, students will pretend to be a nameless person that has been affected by that social justice issue (i.e., person living in the U.S.A that could have been displaced by the 2018 Hurricane Florence, or a student that has just been bullied in the hallway, etc.).
  3. The teacher will then tell students that the monologue will be written in 1st person, from a personal point of view. It must describe how the person/character might be feeling (ex., I feel hurt and alone. I was bullied and no one was there to help me, etc.). Then, the monologue must include the needs and wishes for that person to get and feel better (ex., I wish that the bully could understand how much they are hurting me. I want our school to talk about bullying more often and have strict consequences for bullies. The world does not need these types of people and this hatred, etc.).
    • Teacher can ask students to relate back to the book by asking, “How might the characters we saw in the book be feeling?”, “Can you make a connection with your character, to the emotions in the illustrations? Who else can?”

PART 3: Dramatic Monologue Presentations

  1. Presentation: Each student will present their monologue, pretending to be a person/character undergoing a social justice situation. Students will be able to see the success criteria for this task because drama and oral communications skills will be evaluated of learning.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

  • The creative monologue writing will be an assessment for learning on writing expectations, with a checklist and the criteria “Met/Not Met”. There will be room for teacher comments.
  • Oral communication expectations during the monologue performance will be assessment of learning with a checklist of the learning goals and the achievement levels (levels 1-4). There will be room for teacher and student comments.
  • Drama expectations during the monologue performance will also be an assessment of learning with a checklist of the learning goals and the achievement levels (levels 1-4). There will be room for teacher and student comments.

Consolidation: How will I reflect on the learning goal? How will I have students reflect on the learning goal?

Minutes: 10 – 15 minutes

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

  1. Exit Card: After their monologue presentations, students will be asked the question: “What did you learn from your own and your peers’ monologues? Why is it important to have empathy towards others?”
  2. Students will be given ~10 minutes to complete this prompt to consolidate the social justice and empathy themes touched in this lesson.

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

The exit card will be an assessment as learning, regarding character education and empathy building. There will be a checklist and the criteria “Met/Not Met”. There will be room for teacher and student comments.

Possible next lesson(s):

  • Could be tied in with the Social Studies curriculum, Strand B:
    • B1. Application: explain the importance of international cooperation in addressing global issues, and evaluate the effectiveness of selected actions by Canada and Canadian citizens in the international arena
    • B2. Inquiry: use the social studies inquiry process to investigate some global issues of political, social, economic, and/or environmental importance, their impact on the global community, and responses to the issues
    • B3. Understanding Context: describe significant aspects of the involvement of Canada and Canadians in some regions around the world, including the impact of this involvement
  • HPE ’Healthy Living Strand’:
    • C1.3 Development of a self-concept
    • C2.5 Healthy relationships by acquiring a clearer understanding of the physical, social, and emotional changes that occur during adolescence
  • Questions for the next lesson(s):
    • “How can we show empathy as Canadian citizens? What are our global responsibilities?”,
    • “What new issues have you learned about?”, “What are ways to deal with these issues? As responsible global citizens in our community?”, “Are their government or non-governmental organizations that might be responding to these issues and persons in need?”, “How should we deal with problems as we get older?”, “How do we maintain healthy relationships with ourselves and others during harder times?”

MATERIALS: What resources and materials do I need? Where can I find them? In a perfect world what other resources might I need?

  • Storybook- “Love”, by Matt de la Peña, illustrations by Loren Long (could be found in the library or on a YouTube link:
  • Screenshots/scans of pages 11-12 of “piano scene with child and dog” and pages 13-14 of “television scene with family” (alternative would be a screenshot of the YouTube video, at minutes: 1:31 & 1:42)
  • PowerPoint for the Minds-On and Action parts
  • Smartboard, projector or document camera
  • Paper and pencil for writing, or student writing notebooks/duo-tangs
  • Exit cards (could also be written on a paper or student writing notebooks/duo-tangs)
  • Access to internet
  • Google Chromebooks, computer lab or iPads


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book