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The Outsiders by SE Hinton

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

Find this Common Core aligned resource and more like it in our Middle School ELA and High School ELA Categories!

The Outsiders Lesson Plans

Student Activities for The Outsiders By S. E. Hinton Include:


I remember reading this novel in middle school. There was something that captivated me about the quote, “I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” It is truly amazing how quickly an average, everyday moment can turn bad, and how adversity can make life pass in the blink of an eye. This is part of the reason I love to teach literature: to watch students grow and experience life through the eyes of a protagonist they connect with.

In this teacher guide, your students will experience the life of Ponyboy Curtis first hand, and bring it to life through storyboards. Check out these activities for The Outsiders book below.

The Outsiders By S. E. Hinton Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Outsiders Summary | Plot Diagram


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Students can make a plot diagram of the events from a novel. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot, it also reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the novel in the sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



The Outsiders Plot Diagram Example

Exposition

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ponyboy Curtis (Greaser), the main character, is introduced as he is going to the movies when Socs, members of a rival gang, jump him. He is saved when a group of fellow Greasers come to his rescue.


Conflict

There is a rivalry between two major gangs: the Socs and the Greasers. The Socs are wealthy, while the Greasers are poor.


Rising Action

Johnny kills a Soc to protect his friend. This forces Johnny and Ponyboy to flee. While they are gone, tension mounts between the gangs. Johnny and Ponyboy take refuge in an old church. One day the church catches fire with young children inside. Johnny attempts to save them, but is badly injured.


Climax

Johnny dies from his injuries.


Falling Action

A major battle between the gangs happens, and Dallas dies. Ponyboy was knocked unconscious and wakes up after several days, at home. He then reconciles with his brother Darrel.


Resolution

In the end, Ponyboy recovers from the emotional and physical trauma that has occurred. The novel ends with Ponyboy writing the opening line.


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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Outsiders.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  4. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.



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Themes, Symbols, and Motifs for Ponyboy and His Gang!


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Valuable aspects of any work of literature are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA strands is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. Abstract ideas can be difficult for students to anatomize without assistance, but using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of deep literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities for themes, symbols, and motifs.

An example of this in the classroom could be to track the themes this novel uses to send a strong lesson to its readers.

Themes Motifs and Imagery to Look For & Discuss

Rich vs. Poor

A prevalent theme throughout literature is contrasts and comparisons between the rich and the poor. This theme focuses on the socio-economic differences between groups of people. Throughout the novel, these differences cause the major conflict between the gangs. The Greasers are poor, with their long hair slicked back, and the Socs, or Socialites, come from the west side of town known for its wealth. Although they may believe they are different, they all must face some similar challenges in life.


Loyalty and Honor

No matter what side a character is on, their group has a code. The Greasers uphold what they believe is right and fair. This can be seen when Johnny rescues the children, or when Dallas takes the heat for a crime his friend committed.


Girls

Throughout the novel, girls get a bad rap. Although no one is fighting directly over them, they seem to be a center of controversy and trouble. When lines are blurred, and a Soc girls starts talking to a Greaser, or when Sandy becomes pregnant with another man’s child, the message is clear: Hinton women cause conflict.


Reference to Literature

Throughout the novel the author uses allusions to literature such as Gone With the Wind and Great Expectations. For Ponyboy Curtis, characters create bonds with his friends and with the world he hopes to make sense of.


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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in The Outsiders. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the theme(s) from The Outsiders you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.



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The Outsiders Characters


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Storyboards can be used, as students are reading, to keep a character reference log. A character map allows students to recall important information on characters. When reading a novel, little attributes often return to become an important plot details. Through the use of character mapping students will catch this information, and will be able to follow the fine points which make reading more enjoyable.

You can click on this map and create a copy on your teacher account. Feel free to use this one, or edit it to make it easier. (Or harder for more advanced classes!) The easiest way to use this is to print it as worksheets for your students to complete while reading.

For The Outsiders, a character map helps students remember who belongs to each gang. Also, it provides a reference for discussing how each was involved in the fighting.


The Outsiders Characters

Ponyboy Curtis Protagonist, GreaserDarrel "Darry" Curtis The oldest brother, gave up a promising football career to take care of his brothers after parents' death
Sodapop Curtis Brother of Ponyboy and Darrel, GreaserTwo-Bit Mathews Greaser, known for his switchblade
Steve Randle Friends with Sodapop, thinks Ponyboy is annoyingDallas “Dally” Winston Toughest Greaser
Johnny Cade Ponyboy's best friendSandy Sodapop's girlfriend
Cherry Valance Soc girl, dating BobMarcia Friend of Cherry
Bob Sheldon Soc, dies in fightPaul Holden Soc who challenges Darrel
Jerry Wood A man that looks down on the gangs, despite Johnny and Ponyboy saving the children from the burning churchTim Shepard Leader of a different group of Greasers, friend of Dallas
Curly Shepard Tim's tough younger brother, has a criminal record at the age of 15Mr. Syme Ponyboy's English teacher

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Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters in The Outsiders.


  1. Identify the major characters in The Outsiders and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character from the "1900s" tab to represent each of the literary characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in the boxes for Age, Characteristics, Relatives, and Gang/Friends by adding textables.



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Finding Literary Conflict in The Outsiders


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Literary conflicts are another major element often taught during ELA units. Building on prior knowledge to achieve mastery level with our students is important. An excellent way to focus on the various types of literary conflict is through storyboarding. Having students choose an example of each literary conflict and depict it using the storyboard creator is a great way to reinforce your lesson!

In The Outsiders conflict is not only present, but it is also a major recurring element. Much of the conflict that arises stems from the conflicts between gangs.

Examples of Conflict from The Outsiders

MAN vs. SELF

Ponyboy's inability to understand the violence around him, and his struggle to find strength in the face of adversity.


MAN vs. SOCIETY

Even when Johnny and Ponyboy save the children from the church fire, they are not accepted by society. As Mr. Wood rides with them to the hospital, he judges and condemns them because of their gang affiliation. His prejudice upsets Ponyboy and sets him against traditional society.


MAN vs. MAN

Socs vs. Greasers!


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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows at least three forms of literary conflict in The Outsiders.


  1. Identify conflicts in The Outsiders.
  2. Categorize each conflict as Character vs. Character, Character vs. Self, Character vs. Society, Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Technology.
  3. Illustrate conflicts in the cells, using characters from the play.
  4. Write a short description of the conflict below the cell.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.



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Modernize It - Ponyboy's Story in Our Time


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Parodies, satires, and modern day adaptations are rich with literary elements. Moreover, they are valuable assets for teaching students about literature. Through creative writing, students learn to use literary elements in context, committing mastery of these terms to memory.

A valuable assignment you can give students is to have them create their own modern day adaptation. Have students rewrite the ending by choosing a more contemporary setting, or by choosing a current event that is closely related to the plot of The Outsiders.

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Student Instructions

Create a plot diagram for an original story that takes ideas from The Outsiders.


  1. Plan out an original story using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components. This is YOUR story, so get creative!
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



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Make Vocabulary Stand Out from the Crowd


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Another great way to engage your students is to have them create a storyboard that uses vocabulary from The Outsiders. Here is a list of a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the novel and an example of a visual vocabulary board.


Vocabulary Words from The Outsiders

  • stupor
  • delirious
  • madras
  • bootlegging
  • cowlick
  • veered
  • elite
  • winced
  • contemptuously
  • nonchalantly
  • gorged
  • aghast
  • acquitted


In the vocabulary board students can choose between coming up with their use of the vocabulary board, finding the specific example from the text, or depicting it without words.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in The Outsiders by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and type it in the description boxes.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
  4. Add the sentence from the book, or come up with your own sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



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A Quick Synopsis of The Outsiders Book

The Outsiders begins with Ponyboy Curtis, a member of a gang called the "Greasers", being jumped by a rival gang, the "Socs", outside a movie theater. Throughout the novel, tempers between the two gangs flare, and Ponyboy struggles with his brother, who becomes increasingly tough on him. After coming home late one night, he gets into a fight with his brother and runs away to meet up with his best friend Johnny, also a Greaser. As they wander around the neighborhood, they are again jumped by drunken Socs who nearly drown Ponyboy in a fountain. Out of terror, Johnny stabs Bob, a Soc, and kills him, forcing Johnny and Ponyboy to hide in an abandoned church.

As emotions and actions run hot on the gang front, the church that they are hiding in catches on fire and several children are trapped inside. Johnny and Ponyboy rush to rescue the children; Ponyboy escapes relatively unscathed, but Johnny is badly injured. After the incident, Ponyboy and Johnny are declared heroes for rescuing the kids, but Johnny will still be charged with manslaughter for Bob's death. Johnny later dies, causing a grief-stricken fellow Greaser, Dallas, to rob a store. As the police arrive, Dallas points his gun at them, and the police shoot him.

When Ponyboy returns to school, he is failing his classes. However, his English teacher says he will pass him if he writes a decent essay. Using the recent events of his life he starts with: "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home..."


Essential Questions for The Outsiders

  1. How can fear control you?
  2. Why is stereotyping bad, and how can it lead to negative profiling?
  3. How do dire situations cause people to act out of character?
  4. Is loyalty an attribute of a true friend?

Don’t Let the Fun Stop There! Check Out Our Other Lesson Plan Ideas!

  1. Use a storyboard that shows specific causes and effects of events in the novel.
  2. Use a storyboard to show how stereotyping can lead to misunderstanding.
  3. Create a public service announcement about gangs and gang violence.
  4. Create a storyboard that depicts what life was like in the 1950s: fashion, cars, food, and more! Just try the search bar to find what you’re looking for.
  5. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

Take a trip back to the 1950s to hitch a ride with Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers. After losing their parents in a tragic automobile accident, the trio are thrown into a life on the streets and caught up in a gang war. Dealing with young adult life is hard enough, but when violence and survival are added to the mix, Ponyboy and his brothers must fight just to get by.

  • Personal Favorite: The technology, outfits, and lifestyle of the time were fascinating; cool cars, greasers, and soda pop shops.
  • Society in the 1950s was a unique time of old fashioned ways struggling with the onset of modern media. Often TV depicted the world as carefree and innocence, when, in fact, economic struggle and social change were on the rise.
  • Pro-Tip: Try to find scenes and characters that are meant for the 1950s. The characters can be found under the 1900s tab and the scenes are peppered throughout.

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•   (English) The Outsiders   •   (Español) Los Forasteros   •   (Français) Les Étrangers   •   (Deutsch) Die Außenseiter   •   (Italiana) Gli Outsider   •   (Nederlands) De Buitenstaanders   •   (Português) Os Estranhos   •   (עברית) נערי הכרך   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الغرباء   •   (हिन्दी) परदेशी   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Неудачники   •   (Dansk) The Outsiders   •   (Svenska) De som är Utanför   •   (Suomi) The Outsiders   •   (Norsk) The Outsiders   •   (Türkçe) Yabancılar   •   (Polski) Obcy   •   (Româna) Cei de Afară   •   (Ceština) The Outsiders   •   (Slovenský) Outsiders   •   (Magyar) A Kívülállók   •   (Hrvatski) Vani   •   (български) Извънземни   •   (Lietuvos) Pašaliečių   •   (Slovenščina) The Outsiders   •   (Latvijas) Par Nepiederīgajiem   •   (eesti) Outsiders