Finding Connection: The Outsiders

Students explore the topic of "coming of age" through the story of a young man struggling to determine right and wrong in a world defined by violence.

Unit Summary

S. E. Hinton’s 1967 novel, The Outsiders, is a classic coming-of-age story. Written when Hinton was just a teenager, the text follows the story of Ponyboy, a young teenager who has recently lost both of his parents and is being raised by his older brothers. Although the text is set in the 1960s, the emotions Ponyboy experiences are timeless and universal, as Hinton captures the inner life of a young teenage boy as he navigates the complexities of life as a “greaser” in a world prejudiced against them.  This book is a middle school “classic” for good reason: Ponyboy’s story continues to resonate with young readers, even sixty years after its original publication.

In this unit, students will closely analyze how authors develop the unique perspective of their narrator and track how characters’ perspectives change in response to specific events. They will also pay close attention to the way that authors structure text, studying “standard” narrative structures in order to better understand how individual incidents, scenes, and chapters fit together to create a cohesive narrative. Additionally, this text provides opportunities to study foreshadowing and how that literary device works to create tension in the text—and provide the reader with the opportunity for reflection on earlier events and how these events influence later outcomes. Students will also compare a film version of the core text with the original novel, thinking metacognitively about how the experience of reading is similar and different from viewing a film. This unit also includes three nonfiction texts that, in addition to providing students with a contemporary lens through which to understand the events and characters in The Outsiders, are also an opportunity to practice the skill of deciphering the meaning of words in context.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 3 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Fishtank ELA Connections

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This unit continues our year-long study of what it means to “come of age.” Students have explored this topic through a variety of genres and at this point in the year are beginning to develop a more nuanced understanding of what it means for a young person to navigate a complex world and declare his or her own identity. Students will be able to draw connections between each text: Kenny from The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 and Ponyboy each struggle to recover from trauma; Jonas from The Giver and Ponyboy both yearn for love and connection to others.

Future Fishtank ELA Connections

Previous Fishtank ELA Connections

Essential Questions

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  • How does belonging to a group shape a person’s life and identity?
  • How do stereotypes and prejudices influence the way we see others and ourselves?

Vocabulary

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Notes for Teachers

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This book addresses a number of difficult and mature topics, including gang violence, murder, domestic violence, the death of parents, the death of friends, a police shooting, and PTSD/depression. There are also several scenes that include slurs and offensive stereotypes about women, indigenous people, and gay people. Although there are few truly “graphic” scenes in the text, students will very likely feel emotionally impacted by many of the events and topics described. Additionally, the nonfiction articles students read in this unit discuss issues of violence and crime today. As always, be mindful of your students’ backgrounds and life experiences and be aware that they may have strong reactions to the book.

Lesson Map

1

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 1

    RL.6.6

Explain how S. E. Hinton begins to develop the narrator’s point of view in a text.

2

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 2

    RL.6.5

Explain how specific sections of Chapter 2 fit into the overall structure of The Outsiders and develop the setting and theme.

3

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 3

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.6

Explain how Hinton continues to develop Ponyboy’s point of view and identify how and why his point of view changes.

4

  • The Outsiders — Chapters 1-4

    RL.6.5

Explain how specific scenes and lines of text fit into the overall structure of the text and develop the plot.

5

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 4

  • The Outsiders — 00:00:00-28:49

    RI.6.2

Compare and contrast setting elements and scenes from The Outsiders with the film version and describe the experience of viewing the film.

6

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 5

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.6

Explain how Hinton continues to develop Ponyboy’s point of view, and identify how and why his point of view changes.

7

  • “Nothing Gold...”

    RL.6.2

    RL.6.4

Determine the theme of “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and explain how poet Robert Frost uses literary devices to develop that theme.

8

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 6

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.6

Explain how Hinton develops different characters’ perspectives and analyze how and why characters’ perspectives change in response to plot events.

9

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 7

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.6

Explain how Hinton develops different characters’ perspectives and analyze how and why characters’ perspectives change in response to plot events.

10

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 8

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.6

Explain how Hinton develops different characters’ perspectives and analyze how and why characters’ perspectives change in response to plot events.

11

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 9

    RL.6.5

Explain how specific scenes and lines of text fit into the overall structure of the text and develop the plot.

12

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 10

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.6

Explain how Hinton develops Ponyboy’s point of view and his reactions to plot events.

13

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 11

    RL.6.3

    RL.6.6

Explain how Hinton develops Ponyboy and other characters’ perspectives and how and why their perspectives change.

14

  • The Outsiders — Chapter 12

    RL.6.2

Identify themes in The Outsiders and explain how Hinton develops these themes in Chapter 12.

15

  • The Outsiders — 1:12:22-1:27:35 (end)

    RL.6.7

Compare and contrast scenes from The Outsiders with the film version and describe the experience of viewing the film.

16

  • “Study: Teens...”

    RI.6.4

    L.6.4.a

    L.6.4.b

Determine the meaning and connotations of unknown words in a text using context clues and Greek/Latin roots.

17

  • “We Real Cool”

  • “We Real Cool”

    RL.6.4

    L.6.5

Explain how poet Gwendolyn Brooks uses literary devices to develop tone and meaning in the poem, “We Real Cool.”

18

  • “Why It's Hard...”

    RI.6.2

Determine a central idea of a nonfiction article and explain how the author develops this idea through key details.

19

  • “At some schools...”

    RI.6.4

    L.6.4.d

    L.6.5.b

Determine the meaning of unknown words through context clues, and then successfully use those words in their own writing.

20

Socratic Seminar

  • The Outsiders

    SL.6.1.d

    SL.6.3

Engage in a Socratic Seminar with peers, responding directly to others by rephrasing and delineating arguments and posing clarifying questions.

21

Writing

  • The Outsiders

    W.6.1.b

Explain the expectations of the writing task and begin to gather strong evidence appropriate to the prompt.

22

Writing

  • The Outsiders

    W.6.1.a

    W.6.1.b

    W.6.1.c

Craft a strong thesis statement and effective body paragraphs.

23

Writing

  • The Outsiders

    W.6.1.a

    W.6.1.e

Complete a strong introductory and conclusion paragraph.

24

Writing

  • The Outsiders

    W.6.1.d

    L.6.1.e

    L.6.3.b

Explain “code switching” and edit their own writing for lapses in tone or style. 

25

2 days

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.6.1.e — Recognize variations from standard English in their own and others' writing and speaking, and identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.

  • L.6.3.b — Maintain consistency in style and tone.

  • L.6.4.a — Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

  • L.6.4.b — Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., audience, auditory, audible).

  • L.6.4.d — Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

  • L.6.5 — Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.6.5.b — Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., cause/effect, part/whole, item/category) to better understand each of the words.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.6.2 — Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

  • RI.6.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.

  • RI.6.6 — Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.6.2 — Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

  • RL.6.3 — Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

  • RL.6.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

  • RL.6.5 — Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.

  • RL.6.6 — Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

  • RL.6.7 — Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they "see" and "hear" when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.6.1.d — Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing.

  • SL.6.3 — Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Writing Standards
  • W.6.1.a — Introduce claim(s) and organize the reasons and evidence clearly.

  • W.6.1.b — Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

  • W.6.1.c — Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.

  • W.6.1.d — Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • W.6.1.e — Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument presented.

Spiral Standards

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L.6.1.a

L.6.1.b

L.6.1.c

L.6.1.d

L.6.1.e

L.6.2.b

L.6.2.b

L.6.3

L.6.3.a

L.6.3.b

L.6.5.a

L.6.5.c

L.6.6

RI.6.1

RI.6.10

RI.6.2

RL.6.1

RL.6.10

RL.6.4

RL.6.7

RL.6.9

SL.6.1

W.6.1

W.6.10

W.6.4

W.6.5

W.6.9

W.6.9.a