One of the novels that I absolutely love to teach is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I have yet to encounter a student that did not love this novel!
Since the story is set in the 1960s, I go through various activities to help my students understand what life was like in the 1960s. We usually begin with a whole class discussion where students share anything that they know about the 1960s and we record contributions on the board. As more students share their ideas, we begin to build a concept map where we attempt to categorize the contributions and make connections between ideas. When students begin to struggle, I use prompting questions to get them to discuss possible answers (e.g. “Do you think students had calculators in the 1960s?”). Once we have had a great discussion, we work on two main activities: group and individual presentations.
The group presentations are pretty straightforward: students work in small groups to create a multi-media presentation on one aspect of the 1960s in greater detail and then present it to the class. We determine the topics for the presentations from the concept map we created during our discussion. This year, our topics were: fashion, politics, entertainment, television, sports, music, cars, and technology.
The individual presentations integrate drama into Language Arts. I had my students research influential people from the 1960s and each student had to choose one person to research more in-depth. To keep things interesting, no two students were allowed to research the same person. Once they researched and chose an influential person from the 1960s, students were then to “become” this person and be interviewed on a talk show. Students were given about three weeks to prepare for their interviews and they were to focus on content, costume/props, voice and delivery, gestures, and presentation. I provided students with a graphic organizer to help them record their research and prepare for their presentations.
We had our talk show on Thursday and it was amazing! I wish I could share pictures to show you all the fantastic and creative costumes by students came up with! This was such an engaging experience and both my students and I had a wonderful time and learned so much!
In case you are reading a novel with your students that is set in the 1960s, I have included the worksheet here for your use. Just click on the link!