Resources for Teachers

Discussion Guides

The Carolrhoda Lab™ discussion guides can be used in small groups for discussion or modified to reflect the format of open-ended questions on standardized tests. They can also serve as a starting place for more extended analytical writing.

Talking about Discomfort

Click here to read an essay Ashley wrote for The ALAN Review that explains why discomfort is important for writers and readers of YA.

Audio/Video Resources

Spirit of Texas Materials for Out of Darkness

Visit the Spirit of Texas page or click below for fantastic programming from the Texas Library Association’s Spirit of Texas Round Table.

Personal Writing Prompts

These writing prompts make thematic connections to students’ reading of the novel. They can form the basis of casual responses or be developed into personal essays.

The Knife and the Butterfly

  • Both Azael and Lexi have powerful memories of their childhoods. Write about one memory–good or bad–that you could never forget.
  • Becca tries hard to inspire Azael to change his life. Describe a conversation or encounter with the person in your life who most inspires you.
  • Lexi has a difficult relationship with her mom and often imagines conversations that she would like to have with her. Describe an actual encounter with a parent or imagine a scene with a family member that shows how you would like things to be.
  • Azael finds a message scribbled inside a bathroom drawer in an abandoned apartment. What message would you leave to a stranger and why?

What Can’t Wait

  • Sometimes there are so many demands on Marisa at home that it’s hard for her to get out the front door. Write about a time when you had to decide between fulfilling a personal obligation and pursuing your education or other goals.
  • Alan inspires Marisa many times throughout the novel. Describe a conversation or encounter with the person in your life who most inspires you.
  • Marisa has many dreams for the future, but she also makes efforts each day to get closer to these dreams. Describe something specific that you are doing to work toward a dream of your own.
  • There are many times when Marisa is tempted to give up on school and college. Write about a time when you felt overwhelmed or frustrated. How did you respond?
  • Marisa’s relationship with Anita shapes many of her decisions about the future. Write about a young person who has an important role in your life.

Other What Can’t Wait Resources

Anticipation Guide This anticipation guide is a great opening to the reading of the novel. Confronting students with a series of deliberately controversial statements, it offers a way for students to start thinking about themes and situations they’ll encounter in What Can’t Wait.

College and Planning for the Future What Can’t Wait offers an excellent way to jump-start units on college and planning for the future. The planning for the Future unit is especially rich in resources for effective college application essays. Students reflect on their beliefs about higher education, complete the common application, write scholarship essays, learn how to evaluate college options, write a résumé, and create a portfolio of college-related resources.

Independent Reading Resources

Check out this questionnaire to help students select books they’ll actually enjoy reading.

Worried about accountability for independent reading? Have students keep a daily reading log. Here’s a standard grid of reading response options to stimulate students to respond in varied ways. Students can also do responses in multiple genres; here’s a grid for that approach. Worried that students might read during class but never finish their book? Try this straightforward but effective independent reading summation assignment.

Gather the summations in a binder in your classroom to create a library of reading suggestions for students. In Ashley’s classroom, this was hugely successful in increasing interest in outside reading; students take each other’s recommendations very seriously. For all independent reading tools as a single PDF, click here.

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