by Alan Chazaro

Photo by Pendarvis Harshaw

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Real

Step 1

Say, “What does it mean to be a “real man” or a “real woman”? In other words, what are the stereotypes or expectations that define “real men or women”? Do you see these qualities manifesting themselves at your school, home, workplace, etc.? Have you seen people pressured to behave a certain way because of these expectations?”

Step 2

Read “Pretty” by Alan Chazaro. When you’re done, briefly discuss the speaker’s experiences with “gender expectations” and how they look back on those experiences as an adult.

Step 3

Say, “Take a bit of time to think of gender expectations and norms. Has there been a time when you’ve been expected to behave a certain way? Did you act a certain way to appease others? Or has there been a time where you’ve defied those expectations? Try to jot down as many ideas as you can.” Give them 10 minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students write a poem similar in sentiment to “Pretty” in which they convey their experiences or observations with gender norms and expectations.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Tone

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “tone,” review the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Start by showing your students the following video, a brief overview of societal expectations for “masculinity.”

Step 3

When the video is done, read “Pretty” by Alan Chazaro. Then ask your students how the speaker’s feelings, thoughts, and tone reflects those of the subjects presented in the video.

Step 4

Ask your students about the general tone of the piece. Is the speaker firm or steadfast in their role and understanding of what it means to be a “man”? Discuss.

Step 5

After your brief discussion, have your students open up the following document and go over the introduction/directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to have to examine the speaker’s tone of confliction and analyze the text to better understand how the poet establishes said tone. Then give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, have them share their answers with one another.

Step 7

If time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Tone


  • Appreciation
  • Children / Youth
  • Community / Culture
  • Education Formal / Informal
  • Friendship
  • Gender / Gender Identity / Gender Expression / Sexism
  • Joy
  • Love

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Homophobia