This year I have the privledge of getting to know some of the most inquisitive and articulate 8th graders. I teach two Honors and one College Prep English Language Arts class. They are all embracing this heavily discussion-based class. I love that they came in with such great active listening skills as well. They are creative, funny, and most definitely entertaining. I am so grateful to start the year with such an exceptional group of gentlemen and ladies. Their futures look bright.
The Big Idea of this literature unit will be "Coming of Age." The Outsiders is a classic tale about growing up and making tough choices. This highly engaging tale has become a middle school staple. Students see themselves in the characters even if the setting is somewhat different from today. The other novel, Okay for Now, explores similar themes and also takes place during the same time period. Students get to follow a jaded young man who unwillingly moves to a new town and learns to accept himself and others by letting people in.
Reading literature such as The Outsiders and Okay for Now teaches students empathy.
They can think about someone else's point of view and reflect on how they would react in these situations. In both stories, characters evolve. Those characters that are initially seen as "bad" may have some redeeming qualities. Stories like this help teach students that people and situations cannot only be seen in black and white. Reflecting and seeing other perspectives help students not only grow as readers, but also as people.
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