Ideas for Reports and Papers

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1. Research the topic of teen violence, both physical and psychological, directed toward other teenagers. Make a list of violent crimes that teenagers commit, such as armed robbery, date rape, and murder. Can a profile be established of typical offenders and victims?

2. Pick an object for an art project similar to that which Mr. Freeman assigned Melinda. Present it creatively as a painting, sculpture, poem, or some other artistic form.

3. Define the various types of sexual harassment, such as name calling, grabbing, gesturing, writing obscenities, or displaying pornography. Which forms do characters encounter in this novel? What motivates people to sexually harass others? How are both females and males victimized by sexual harassment? Distinguish between harassment and flirting.

4. Write a report about the symptoms such as sleeplessness and anxiety that a victim of sexual assault might experience. Which ones does Melinda exhibit? Pretend you are her counselor and write a profile describing how she has reacted to her rape. What medical concerns might a physician have for Melinda's health?

5. If you were Melinda's friend, what advice would you give her? Compose an essay with your response as well as several paragraphs showing how, if you were Melinda, you .would confide in someone you trusted.

6. Script a readers' theater for the scene in which Melinda makes the 911 call, creating possible dialogue she might have spoken if she had been able to find her voice.

7. Compose two editorials, one promoting teacher interaction with students' personal problems and another criticizing faculty involvement in students' private lives.

8. Research clinical depression, particularly among teenagers, and write a paper citing evidence that Melinda suffers this condition. Did you ever worry that she might commit suicide? Consult sources such as Lyn Mikel Brown's, Raising Their Voices: The Politics of Girls' Anger (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998) to study how scholars interpret depression and anger as exhibited by adolescent females.

9. How representative is this novel of American high school culture? Are there aspects of the high school experience that are universal to students in other countries? Write a newspaper article about an issue such as raves, drug/ alcohol abuse, date rape, cliques, or school violence, including the point of view of at least five students representing both American and foreign perspectives.

10. Could Melinda's story be told in another setting or is it essential that she be physically present at school? Is high school a microcosm of American culture and are attitudes toward people perceived as weaker and unimportant? Defend your answers in a brief essay.

11. Discuss the importance of family to teenagers, providing both general and personal observations.

12. What is the difference between sexual harassment and sexual discrimination? Does Melinda encounter both? Do you think the author has written this novel to promote a specific agenda?

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