Simulations, a type of experiential learning Dewey, ; Kolb, , are not new to the English language arts; teachers frequently use simulations to help students master content and themes McCann, and to personalize central conflicts in the text through experiencing similar situations Mindich, Because simulations bring abstract issues in texts to life, they help achieve affective objectives not easily met through traditional methods, particularly the building of empathy and the fostering of multiple perspectives Arnold, ; Johannessen, As a result, it seemed to be the perfect strategy for achieving the objectives.
Defining the Terms With her objectives and standards aligned and with her culminating assessment in place, Maichael scaffolded her instruction to help students interrogate the question and prepare for their outsider experience. To begin the unit, students needed to understand the vocabulary associated with the inquiry question, the novel, and their impending experiences. Who was involved?
How did you feel? Why did you experience those emotions? We could trust each other more because we came together and helped each other out. Figure 1. As the students watched unsuspecting citizens rotate around an elevator in response to the movement of others, they hypothesized about the causes of such actions: What did it mean to be an outsider in these situations?
The Outsiders: About The Outsiders | Book Summary & Study Guide | CliffsNotes
How did these people feel about being outsiders in seemingly innocent social situations? Figure 2. Synthesizing the connotations, experiences, and ideas shared in the discussion, students then crafted their own definitions of these terms. I think that being an insider means that you have a lot of friends, you fit in with the group, and you feel accepted.
Feeling like an insider is one of the greatest things. An insider fits into every situation and understands how to socialize. Ultimately, the discussion and writing exercise served as the foundation for the essays students would write as the culminating assessment for the unit.
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Dialoguing with the Reading As the class progressed through the novel, discussions continued about what it might feel like to be accepted in a group as opposed to rejected as an outsider in society. Students identified and analyzed specific examples of this construct as evidenced by the Socs Socials and the Greasers from the text.
The Outsiders Essay Questions
Inspired by the novel, class discussions explored how or why people are classified within their own communities in and out of school. Students examined common stereotypes and then analyzed their own biases. It also included speculation about why and how bullying occurs, merging schoolwide topics of interest into the language arts curriculum.
How did he feel about being an outsider in this seemingly innocent situation? Figure 3. Through this strategy, students were able to make connections with the characters in the book.
In the essay required at the end of the unit, students dedicated a paragraph to comparing their own experiences to those of a character from the text. They related to the loyalty felt between members of the Greasers as they spoke of their own insider experiences with friends and family.
For example, when Johnny felt so happy for saving the children, it relates to me when I felt happy for making points for my team. Maichael then initiated the simulation component of the assignment with the following invitation:. However, this time the discussions that followed explored what the experimenters or insiders did as well as how the participants or outsiders reacted.
As the class unpacked the experience, they discussed how this clip modeled the essential components of their own experimental analysis. These ideas ranged from the outrageous and loud to quiet acts of social defiance, but all students chose an experiment they felt would personally challenge them. Although student choice was encouraged, the class agreed that their experiments should not distract others from learning or do harm to others and that they would need parental approval.
Allowing this choice not only differentiated the assignment to satisfy the unique needs of each student, it also provided students autonomy in making decisions about the kind of situation that would push them and allowed them to deal with the responses that resulted. Once they decided on their projects, it was time to turn them loose.
Students had two weeks to complete their projects and then one week to write and revise their essays, which consisted of three parts see Fig. Next, they described and reflected on their outsider experiences. Guiding questions similar to those listed earlier helped students describe and analyze their experiences in writing, including how others reacted and what they themselves felt during the experience.
Specifically, Maichael asked students to consider the following as they crafted their discussion of their outsider experience:. The final essay component required students to compare their own insider or outsider experiences to those of one of the characters in the novel. Drawing on textual evidence and specific examples from their own lives, students explored the similarities and differences between these comparisons. Figure 5 details the rubric used to guide and evaluate their essays.
As students completed their experiments and worked on their essays, informal discussions buzzed throughout the classroom. For example, as one student animatedly explained what she had done, students nearby commented on and questioned her about her experience. The discussions proceeded naturally and were not limited to just the student and the teacher.
Instead, everyone present in the classroom encouraged everyone else. These informal classroom discussions ultimately helped build anticipation as students prepared for the final presentations where they shared their experiences with one another. The discussions also seemed to motivate many of the students who had not yet completed an experiment to do something.
Student responses demonstrated significant insights that resulted directly from the simulation and likely would not have been possible if students had not been able to experiment with these ideas in the community. First, students discussed feelings of discomfort that resulted from breaking social norms.
Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Parallels Within
For example, Bracken, a shy, petite girl, described the stares and disapproval she experienced as she paid for a candy bar and a drink at a local store in pennies and dimes. As students explored the varied motivations behind the choices they made, they began to realize that the wrong assumptions made about them paralleled those they sometimes make about other people. Some students went beyond challenging social norms and entered real situations as legitimate outsiders. In her presentation, Leah described attending a different church when she visited her cousin in Mexico.
Both as a religious and a linguistic outsider, she wrote:. Experiencing, even briefly, what it meant not to be a part of the dominant group helped them see the challenges faced by the characters more clearly.
Sharing this kind of experience led to class discussions about people who might feel like outsiders in their own community as a result of language or religious differences and how students might bridge these differences and help others see the value of diversity within the community. For example, one father wanted to maximize the learning for his daughter, Ashlee, an attractive, academically successful student who was popular among her peers. Stares and whispered comments immediately made her feel uncomfortable.
In her analysis, she wrote,. Through her simulation, the help of her parents, and a desire to learn something personally relevant, Ashlee admitted that her view of people who are different from her had changed. Nearly all of the students wrote about their increased awareness of social norms, empathy toward others, and their new insights concerning how these themes played out in our community. In addition to relating to the characters, students found ways to relate to each other and to others in their community. Young adult literature can serve as a catalyst for student learning when it comes to issues significant to young people and their community.
Although the discussion here uses The Outsiders as the text that guides this approach, a myriad of quality YA texts center on this theme.
The list of suggested texts in Figure 1 p. The suggestions that follow discuss additional ideas and recommendations for those interested in implementing this assignment in their own classrooms. Initially, Maichael feared that the outsider experience component of the assignment might alienate shy students and discourage them from participating.
However, allowing students to choose a situation that would push them individually helped them willingly engage. Allowing additional student choice in both the text and the outsider issues studied may also prove motivating. For example, a similar inquiry could be conducted wherein teachers create book clubs or literature circles organized around a variety of texts.
At their weekly book club meetings, students could discuss the shared text with other members of their group. As the different groups finish reading their texts, the teacher could use a jigsaw strategy to organize students in groups with those who read different texts.
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