Skip to main content

The Outsiders

Anyone else remember reading The Outsiders in middle school?  I remember reading it in 7th grade in 1981. Oh how I loved that book!  Then came the movie!  Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Leif Garret, Matt Dillon, and Patrick Swayze were some of the actors in this Francis Ford Coppola film.  I have to admit that it was a little depressing this year when I mentioned that Tom Cruise was in the movie, and only one student said, "I think I have heard of him."  

Yet, here it is 2014 and my students are enjoying this book as much as I did.  On the surface the book is about two rival "gangs," the Socs and the Greasers.  However, the book is about so much more.  It is about stereotypes and prejudging people.  It's about true friendship, family, and loyalty.  It's about courage and growing up.  That makes it the perfect book for middle schoolers.

I started off the unit with a web quest about the 1960s to get the students acquainted with the setting of the novel.  They listened to music, looked at clothing styles,  learned about drive-ins, compared prices from then and now, and checked out Mustangs and Corvairs.  The web quest is in my Google Classroom if you are interested!

The kids were amazed to learn that the author is a female and was only a teen herself when she wrote the book!  

In addition to completing annotations/analysis of quotes, students will be reading about the teenage brain, and the juvenile justice system.  Students will be marking the text and tracing an author's argument.  Both of these topics complement the book.  Eventually, all students will write their own informational essay about a topic of their choice.  However, it must involve some research, and it must be about  something relevant to teens.  I am looking forward to reading these essays, and I think the students will enjoy writing about them!  

Since many of you have probably read the book or have seen the movie, it would be a great topic to discuss with your child!

Popular posts from this blog

Bottle Flipping

Last week someone posted article on Facebook about the newest trend with middle schoolers-bottle flipping.  If you haven't heard of it, you probably don't teach middle school or have a child in middle school! Consider  yourself lucky! If you know about it, then you also know it's annoying as heck.  Kids (usually boys), toss a partially filled water bottle into the air so that it flips in midair.  The goal is to have the bottle land upright.  This year I have had to ask several students to put their water bottles away because they wanted to flip them.  I know,  I'm mean!  

After reading the Facebook article I thought, "Hey!  I bet I can incorporate this into a lesson somehow."  Using my Oreo lesson as a model, that's just what I did.  First, I found two different articles about bottle flipping.  I went through both looking for key vocabulary words.  I then typed out the sentences with the words and created an activity where students had to guess the definit…

Oreos in China and Read 180

A few years ago I read an article about what happened when Kraft introduced the Oreo to the Chinese in 1996.  It was not a success.  The Chinese thought the filling was too sweet-the cookie too bitter.  Kraft almost pulled the beloved cookie off the shelves. Instead, they began a quest to find out how to make the Oreo appeal to the Chinese. Enter the green tea Oreo, the mango Oreo, and an Oreo in the shape of a straw (not sure that still qualifies as an Oreo).  The revamped Oreos were a huge success! I found the article fascinating and decided to design a lesson around  it to share with my students.

First I showed them a news clip from CNN about the topic. Then, I taught them a few vocabulary words that appear in the article using Kate Kinsella's method.  Next, we read the article together and marked the text. I did a think aloud as I read aloud to them.  After that, students created a T-Chart listing the ten most important words in the text, as well as five main ideas from the tex…

Making Comments on Student Writing Meaningful

As any English teacher knows, we spend countless hours grading and commenting on student work.  What I realized after a few years of teaching was that many students did not read my comments at all; they just looked at their grade. Some didn't even look at the rubric!   However, many students valued my feedback and relished every comment.  I felt as though I was wasting my time on more than half of the essays.   As evident from the next essay the students wrote, the majority of the students did not heed the advice I gave in the previous essay.  I came up with a solution!  Using Google Forms, I created a detailed survey for my students to fill out about the comments they received on their writing.  I will include pictures of various questions and answers.  Better yet, I told them that all responses would be read and a graded  for the thoughtfulness.  I had a sub that day, so I created a link to the form in my daily blog post for my class!  SO easy!  Students were forced to go back t…