Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 9: The World Through the Eyes of the Outsiders (week of 11/4/16)

This week, we finally began S.E. Hinton's bestseller, The Outsiders. Monday, we explored infographics a bit more to get familiar with the platform and to complete our research. We also set our first goal for Friday, November 4. This quarter, the Independent Book Project is a little bigger in terms of the product and information required while being smaller and lighter on the reading. Goals are important because they can guide students towards success. I'm also trying to help my students avoid the stress of realizing that the project is due "tomorrow" and they still have nothing done. I want my students to have ownership of their work and goals give them a framework to guide them.The handout provided had four goal check-ins: Friday, November 4, the week of Thanksgiving, Friday, December 2, and Wednesday, December 7. These goals are incredibly important for success in this project. Students should be setting smart goals; in fact, they should be setting SMART goals (see picture). I understand that self-directed, independent book projects can be tough for students, especially this first year where they're gaining more independence, so I'm here for goal setting and some in-class work. However, it is important for students to put in some work at home or after school to ensure that they're meeting their goals in order to find success on this project.

Tuesday, we got to work on out unit folders for "The Outsiders" by taking a file folder and adding clipart or drawings to it. The students get to relax a bit as they work on the "fun" part, but they're actually interacting with different elements of the 1960s with real pictures. They're also, secretly, working on organization because this folder will keep their work for the unit in one place. They'll be able to access their folder at school in class as well as before/after school. We'll be working on the unit assignments (in the folder) mostly in class, so as long as students are using their time wisely they'll be absolutely fine.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent listening to the audio of the book. I got to share my love for the book a little on Wednesday and then we dove right in. Already, my students this year are proving why this book continues to be relevant in the middle school classroom. Thursday, my students came running in asking, "Are we reading "The Outsiders" today? All period? YES!!!" Already, they're connecting with the characters and they're starting to look at our essential questions. The guiding question for this unit is "How are people affected by their surroundings?" We also started talking about the idea of fitting in, being excluded, and who has it easier, the rich or the poor? Wednesday and Thursday were spent focussing on the first two chapters of the book. We simply just read the chapters in order to envelop ourselves in setting and characters without specifically focusing on them. Next week, we'll dig back into the chapters to fully focus on the setting as well as the characters and their traits. Eventually, our study will develop into a character development essay over the course of the novel. The students will moan and groan because its writing and work, but they like this essay because their connection to the characters makes it easier, or at the very least less painful.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. Who is your favorite character from "The Outsiders" so far? What makes them your favorite?
2. What is your Independent Book Project goal for over Thanksgiving break? How will your efforts over Thanksgiving break affect your overall project?
3. Have some of the characters in "The Outsiders" been affected by their surroundings? How?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

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