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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

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Student Activities for 13 Reasons Why Include:

Thirteen Reasons Why tells the story of thirteen people who influenced high schooler Hannah Baker to commit suicide. Told from the point of view of her classmate Clay, who is slowly listening to seven cassette tapes on which Hannah has recorded her story, the novel is a suspenseful revelation of the many forces that combined to demoralize Hannah. Author Jay Asher addresses this heavy subject matter with realism and fairness. Covering such issues as self-esteem, identity, rumors, romance, sexual abuse, teen drinking, and depression, Hannah’s experiences and those of her peers will resonate with many young readers. Students will not only be caught up in the riveting read, but may also find the novel a thought-provoking reflection on aspects of their own lives. Jay Asher’s novel provides parents and educators with a helpful starting point for many difficult topics that too often go unaddressed.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Thirteen Reasons Why addresses many controversial topics that students may initially be uncomfortable discussing. Teachers, too, may find the subject matter difficult to approach. Before beginning the novel, teachers should take care to prepare with relevant background reading on subjects such as bullying, suicide, and sexual abuse. Make sure to also research appropriate authorities and helplines for providing official student support in these areas. The organizations below may be helpful resources for both teachers and students.



In addition to its powerful thematic content, Thirteen Reasons Why can be a wonderful tool for teaching literary concepts. Asher uses a creative story structure and alternating point of view to tell his story and maintain suspense. The novel contains parallel stories, which alternate every few lines from Clay’s narration in the present to Hannah’s narration in the past. Clay’s part of the story is told through stream of consciousness, a method of narration in which the speaker expresses thoughts and feelings in a continuous flow of words. Asher also employs unique formatting techniques, including italics to indicate Hannah’s recorded voice and symbols representing the “stop”, “pause”, and “play” functions of the cassette player. These symbols also indicate a switch in narrative point of view. Other literary devices to teach along with this novel include foil, tragic flaw, foreshadowing, irony, figurative language, and deus ex machina.


Essential Questions for Thirteen Reasons Why

  1. What is the snowball effect? How can the snowball effect relate to your own life?
  2. How can a person’s perspective be changed?
  3. What role do rumors and reputation play at your school?
  4. What can you do to help prevent your classmates from making destructive decisions?
  5. What mistakes did Hannah make in dealing with her stress and unhappiness?

13 Reasons Why Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Thirteen Reasons Why Summary


Copy Assignment



A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example Thirteen Reasons Why Summary

Exposition

The faculty and students at Crestmont High School are shocked to see Hannah Baker's empty desk and learn that she has committed suicide. The student body is disturbed, but there is little discussion of the incident, and no one attends her out-of-town funeral.


Conflict

Clay Jensen, a boy who had a crush on Hannah, discovers a package of cassette tapes at his front door. The tapes contain the story of thirteen reasons (people) for Hannah's suicide. Each of the 13 people who will receive the box of tapes will learn how they contributed to Hannah's decision to take her own life.


Rising Action

As Clay listens to the tapes, he learns that Hannah was misrepresented in rumors that spread around school. As a result of these rumors, Hannah struggled to fit in, and was betrayed and abused by many of her peers. Clay worries about his own reason for appearing on the tapes, as he agonizes over the pain Hannah expresses in her story.


Climax

Clay listens to tape #5 and discovers his connection to Hannah's death. Hannah doesn't blame him, but explains that she liked him. She describes a party where she and Clay talked for the first time. Due to their similarities and mutual attraction, they had could have become close. But after they kiss, Hannah pushes Clay away. Later, Hannah witnesses a rape and a drunk driving accident. This night is a turning point, eliminating her sense of self-worth and desire to open up to others.


Falling Action

All but determined to take her own life, Hannah makes one last attempt to reach out for help by talking to Mr. Porter. When he tells her to “move beyond” her troubles, she makes a final decision to kill herself. She records the tapes, mails them, and then commits suicide.


Resolution

After listening to the tapes, Clay finally understands why Hannah took her own life. He is filled with grief but learns from her story. The next day at school, he skips class to reach out to Skye Miller, another girl who is showing signs of social avoidance and unhappiness.


Thirteen Reasons Why Plot Diagram
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION The faculty and students at Crestmont High School are shocked to see Hannah Baker's empty desk and learn that she has committed suicide. The student body is disturbed, but there is little discussion of the incident, and no one attends her out-of-town funeral. Clay Jensen, a boy who had a crush on Hannah, discovers a package of cassette tapes at his front door. The tapes contain the story of thirteen reasons (people) for Hannah's suicide. Each of the 13 people who will receive the box of tapes will learn how they contributed to Hannah's decision to take her own life. As Clay listens to the tapes, he learns that Hannah was misrepresented in rumors that spread around school. As a result of these rumors, Hannah struggled to fit in, and was betrayed and abused by many of her peers. Clay worries about his own reason for appearing on the tapes, as he agonizes over the pain Hannah expresses in her story. Clay listens to tape #5 and discovers his connection to Hannah's death. Hannah doesn't blame him, but explains that she liked him. She describes a party where she and Clay talked for the first time. Due to their similarities and mutual attraction, they had could have become close. But after they kiss, Hannah pushes Clay away. Later, Hannah witnesses a rape and a drunk driving accident. This night is a turning point, eliminating her sense of self-worth and desire to open up to others. All but determined to take her own life, Hannah makes one last attempt to reach out for help by talking to Mr. Porter. When he tells her to “move beyond” her troubles, she makes a final decision to kill herself. She records the tapes, mails them, and then commits suicide. After listening to the tapes, Clay finally understands why Hannah took her own life. He is filled with grief but learns from her story. The next day at school, he skips class to reach out to Skye Miller, another girl who is showing signs of social avoidance and unhappiness. XXXX 1.xxxx 2.xxxx 3.xxxx STOP! Skye.

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of Thirteen Reasons Why.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Plot Diagram Template
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION

Example

(Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Thirteen Reasons Why Character Map

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a novel, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!


Thirteen Reasons Why Characters

  • Hannah Baker
  • Clay Jensen
  • Justin Foley
  • Alex Standall
  • Jessica Davis
  • Tyler Down
  • Courtney Crimson
  • Marcus Cooley
  • Zach Dempsey
  • Ryan Shaver
  • Jenny Kurtz
  • Bryce Walker
  • Mr. Porter
  • Skye Walker
  • Tony

Thirteen Reasons Why Character Map
Create your own at Storyboard That HANNAH BAKER CLAY JENSEN JUSTIN FOLEY ALEX STANDALL JESSICA DAVIS TYLER DOWN COURTNEY CRIMSON MARCUS COOLEY ZACH DEMPSEY RYAN SHAVER JENNY KURTZ BRYCE WALKER MR. PORTER SKYE MILLER TONY