Activist - A Story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting: Teaching Guide | Ages 11 - 14

Activist - A Story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting: Teaching Guide | Ages 11 - 14


About The Book

On February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day, Lauren Elizabeth Hogg lost her two best friends in the now notorious school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In all, seventeen people were gunned down by the shooter, a student at the school. Survivors of that tragic day vowed to rise up and fight for their right—and the right of kids everywhere—to safety in their schools.

Through her grief, Lauren found her calling, joining in the protests of #NeverAgain and “March for Our Lives.” She and her brother, and many other Parkland students, refuse to allow the memory of their fallen classmates to be forgotten. Empowered with a unique voice, Lauren Elizabeth Hogg is truly an activist for our times.

Activist Interview Videos

About The Author

Lauren Elizabeth Hogg is a 15-year-old from Parkland, Florida. She attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a sophomore where she carries a 4.5 GPA. Lauren is actively involved in the March For Our Lives campaign. Her mission is to help raise awareness of gun violence in our country and change current laws that put students in jeopardy.


Reading Group Guide

Answer Key Under "Attachments" at Bottom of Guide

Discussion Questions

1. Define “activist.” What qualities categorize a person as an activist?

2. Based on the title, where is the setting? What do you think this story will be about?

3. How does this topic affect you or our society?

4. How would you console someone in a difficult situation?

5. How do the illustrations help the reader understand the emotional impact this event had on those involved? How did the illustrations impact you?

6. How do you seek support if you or someone you know is going through a difficult time?

7. What did Lauren do to make a difference? Analyze her situation, and discuss how she responded to this tragedy.

8. What protocol is in place for your school in the event of a tragedy? Do you feel that you are safe at school? What could make school even safer?

9. We can never know how we would respond to tragedy until we are faced with it. Explain why emotional events change you and your outlook on life. Do you have support of friends or family? Do you have support in the community? Who do you reach out to when you are feeling scared? Unsure? Alone? Are you someone people reach out to?

10. Often people do not get involved in something they are passionate about until it directly impacts them or those close to them. What are you passionate about? How can you get involved and make a change before something tragic happens?

Writing Prompts

1. Narrative (tells a story that is fact or fiction): Tell about a time that you, or someone you know experienced a tragedy that you feel could have been prevented.

2. Expository (explain or inform the subject): Research school shootings. Where do they take place, when do they happen, what steps are taken to protect students in schools. What protocol was in place prior to the tragic event, and what was incorporated after.

3. Persuasive (states the opinion of the writer and attempts to influence the reader): Research a topic that is meaningful to you (ex: gun laws, school safety and security, environmental issues, social or human rights issues, animal rights, etc.). Write a letter to a school official, politician, or community leader. Using facts and details, explain your side of the issue. Be sure to cite evidence that supports your point of view and suggestions for how change will impact society for the better.

4. Descriptive (uses the five senses, specific details and imagery to paint a picture): Choose a picture or page from the graphic novel. Write as many details as you can from the illustration. Analyze facial expressions, colors used in the pictures, details of the setting and other types of symbolism used by the illustrator. How do these factors allow the illustrator to convey a message? What impact do these choices have on the thoughts and feelings of the reader? Now write a paragraph using sensory details. Be sure to give details that help the reader visualize your story. Use diction to show, don’t tell. 

Extension Activities

1. In this novel, Lauren Elizabeth Hogg created a movement. Her message #NeverAgain, and #MarchForOurLives was conveyed all over the country. What message would you want to send? Create a poster, bumper sticker, hashtag, etc. Now imagine you are introducing this message live through social media. Write a short paragraph to share your message with the world. What would you say? Why would people want to hear it? What will it change in the world? How can people relate and connect with your movement?

 2. Often people feel they do not have help when they need it. They don’t know where to go or to whom to reach out for help. Research hotlines, websites, hospitals, counselors and community outreach programs in your area. Create a poster, brochure or flyer of resources for various issues such as suicide prevention, bullying, depression, anger management, anxiety, or any other struggle people may experience.

 3. Using technology, create a brief commercial about school safety. In your commercial, speak to the students of your school. Some examples of what to include: ways to stay safe, where to hide, when to hide, when to fight back, when to report suspicious behavior, how to report suspicious behavior, who to report it to, specific people in your school who can help, etc.

 4. In the novel, refer to “Take 5!” on page 81. Rebecca Boldrick Hogg has been a public school teacher for 30 years. She is the mother of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors and activists David and Lauren Hogg. She created five take-aways for parents about activism. What five take-aways would you write for students about activism. Create a page in a similar format to page 81.

 5. Lauren Elizabeth Hogg wrote the novel, Activist, to share her story. What would your story be? What would it be called? What message would you share with the world? Create an outline for your novel. What events would be included? Create a few significant illustrations or slides for your novel. Explore how color and details convey a message that is powerful even when no words exist. Be creative.


Novel Ties

Answer Key Under "Attachments" at Bottom of Guide

Before you read

1. Why has this text been written? 

2. What is the topic and author’s purpose of this text?

3. What is your first reaction to this text just by looking at it?

4. What prior knowledge do you have on the topic from media, classroom discussions, personal experience?

During reading

5. Make connections to the text such as text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world. 

6. Identify an emotion felt while reading. How do your emotions change throughout the story? Cite specific examples from the novel.

7. How do the illustrations support the tone? Cite specific examples.

8. Analyze Elizabeth’s point of view. How does it change throughout the text? Cite specific examples.

9. How can you relate to Lauren? Use specific examples from your life, and how they apply to Lauren’s story.

10. At what point in the story would you give Lauren encouragement? What would you tell her? As a new character in this story, what would your actions do to add or change this story by inserting your encouragement? Would this be a positive change, or would your encouragement guide her in a different direction?

After reading

11. How have your thoughts about this novel changed after reading it? Refer to question 3.

12. What specific moment in the novel helped Lauren become an activist as opposed to a victim?

13. After reading this novel, if you could speak to Lauren what would you ask her?

14. How does the use of symbolism throughout the novel help you better understand Lauren’s emotions? This could be found in the words, or illustrations. Be specific and include page numbers and details.

15. If you could create a graphic novel about your life, what would it be called? What would it be about? How would it help others? Why do you think Lauren titled her book, “Activist”? 

Comprehension Test

Answer Key Under "Attachments" at Bottom of Guide

1.  Who is Lauren Elizabeth Hogg? What is she best known for?

2. In your own words, explain the horrific event of February 14, 2018.

3. How does the conflict of this plot affect the actions taken by Lauren Elizabeth Hogg?

4. How does the tone of the story change throughout the text? Provide evidence to support the author’s tone.  

5. Why was Lauren’s life changed forever in a negative and positive way? Provide specific examples to support your response.

6. Describe the relationship between Lauren and her brother. How does this relationship impact the plot?

7. Social media played a key role in spreading Lauren’s message. In your own words, describe the impact social media had on this movement.

8. Identify the theme. How does this theme support the message Lauren is sharing through her activism?

9. Identify a conflict in this story. Use text evidence to explain how this conflict affects the outcome of this story.

10. Choose a quote from the story. What emotion was evoked from this quote? Create a simile or metaphor to illustrate the emotion.

11. What is the author’s purpose in writing this novel?

12. Through this tragedy, what lesson did Lauren learn? How will this impact her life moving forward? How will her actions help others moving forward?  

13. Explain the actions of Lauren’s mom when Lauren was young. How did this influence Lauren?

14. Describe the lesson Lauren learned from her brother. How did this lesson come back as a significant moment in her survival?

15. At what moment in the story does Lauren decide that something needs to change? Describe that moment and the actions she took.

16. How did Lauren’s social media impact the actions she took next?

17. There are many similes in this story. Choose a simile and explain what it means, and how it impacts the tone.

18. When the alarm went off at school, why was that odd for the students? Explain the feeling you have when the alarm sounds at school. How does that compare to Lauren’s reaction?

19. Why did the students believe this was a drill at first? How did the rumor impact their reactions to the alarm?

20. What is one lesson you took from this story? How will this lesson impact your life moving forward? Be specific and use details from the text.

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