Speak Resources


SPEAK Classroom Guides and Resources

SPEAK is taught in schools around the United States and Canada, from eighth grade through college. Below you’ll find links to teacher resources, online classroom guides, and links relating to the subject of the book. We would love to post or link to more SPEAK lesson plans. Email us here at MWITF with the text or your curriculum unit or the link to your classroom project. Be sure to include your name and your school so we can put in the appropriate copyright notice. Thank you!

Classroom Guides – offsite

Three quick booktalks about SPEAK.

“Freedom of Speech and Automatic Language: Examining the Pledge of Allegiance” — From the site’s Overview: “…This lesson plan asks students to explore this rote learning and their own right to freedom of speech by examining the Pledge of Allegiance from a historical and personal perspective and in relationship to fictional situations in novels they have read. Using a novel such as Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen or Nothing But the Truth by Avi, students learn how the novel’s protagonist and other characters in the story deal with free speech issues in varying ways and are invited to think about pledges that they are willing to make and how they express their freedom of speech.” This plan is found on the ReadWriteThink site maintained by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the International Reading Association (IRA) and Marcopolo. This lesson meets NCTE/IRA Standards 1, 3, 8, and 12.

Sexual Assault Survivor Resources

You are not alone.

  • 1 in 6 American women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape. In the U.S., a rape is reported every five minutes. Experts estimate that only 16% of all rapes are ever reported to police.
  • Nearly half of rape and sexual assault victims are girls under the age of 18.
  • Girls between the ages of 16 and 19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • Most teenagers who are raped or sexually assaulted are attacked by someone they know.
  • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.

Men and boys can be sexually assaulted, too.

  • 1 out of every 33 American men will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
  • In 2003, ten percent of rape victims were male.

Victims of sexual assault are:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Statistics from studies by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[more statistics here]

You deserve compassion, understanding and help

National Sexual Assault Hotline

Does SPEAK change the way kids view rape?

SPEAK has been in curriculum all over the United States for a decade. Thousands of teachers have anecdotal evidence about the impact the book has made on their students, both in terms of its literary merit, and in the emotional maturity of their students. But we haven’t had the kind of research and data that some curriculum directors require before putting a new book on the shelves.

We have it now!

Victor Malo-Juvera wrote his dissertation, “The Effect of Young Adult Literature on Adolescents’ Rape Myth Acceptance”on the research he did using SPEAK in his eighth grade classroom.

Victor has graciously written a summary of his work, below, and allowed me to link to the full dissertation and share it with the world.

I have taught Speak for the past 8 years as a middle school Language Arts teacher and it is far and away the students’ favorite novel each year. Every year, I was approached by at least one student who had been victimized by sexual assault and hearing their stories led me to quickly enlist the school’s TRUST counselor to assist me in instruction by conducting comprehensive presentations on dating violence. While teaching Speak, I have had the privilege to be part of many heated discussions where I could see opinions and attitudes about date rape change during the course of one class period. When it came time to do my dissertation, the only choice for me was to try to show through the scientific method what countless teachers and students already knew – that reading good novels can really help teens far beyond being successful on multiple choice tests. In my case, specifically, I wanted to show that an instructional unit based on Speak could significantly reduce rape myth acceptance in adolescents. Rape myth acceptance is the degree to which an individual adheres to beliefs that deny rapes as being real (she wouldn’t have gone to his hotel room if she didn’t want to) or exonerate rapists of their actions (she shouldn’t have gone that far if she didn’t want to go all the way).

Participants in the study were 8th grade language arts students at a Title I middle school in a major metropolitan school district. Classes were randomly assigned to treatment or control condition and participants were pretested using the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (Burt, 1980) and a researcher created scale, the Adolescent Date Rape Acceptance Scale (ADRMS). The pretests showed that boys had significantly higher levels of rape myth acceptance than girls, which has been found to be the case in numerous other studies. The Speak unit lasted about five weeks and in addition to more traditional literary instruction, students participated in assignments, both written and discussed, that asked them to write a letter to Melinda, to write a conversation pretending they were a friend of Andy’s, and to write reflections reevaluating their own views on date rape. Posttests on the ADRMS showed that the unit was effective in significantly reducing rape myth acceptance. Simply put, the instructional unit worked and students who participated had lower levels of rape myth acceptance than students who did not.

This is just a brief overview of the research – for those who are interested, my dissertation goes far more in depth into all aspects of the study. I think one of the most important aspects of this study was allowing students to discuss their views in the classroom. A great book like Speak incites thinking in readers, and the classroom should be an ideal place for views to be discussed; unfortunately, even though the statistics regarding teens and sexual assault are shocking, there are many educators who do not believe that rape is a topic that should be discussed in school. It is my hope that research such as this can show educators the benefits that teaching books like Speak can bring to young readers and maybe open their minds to a curriculum beyond sanitized test preparation.
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