The Outsiders Library Collaboration

One of my favorite things to do as a school librarian is to use our spaces and resources to bring literature to life. Recently, we have started a collaboration based on S.E. Hinton’s, The Outsiders.

After meeting with our 8th grade ELA teachers, we decided to have several learning stations set up in the library to help students understand the period and culture. The event took place over two days and consisted of these learning stations:

Station 1: Windrixville Church

Students were asked to name items that Johnny & Pony had at the church in Windrixville. There were also other discussion prompts for students to create responses.

Station 2: Drive-in Movie

We set up an area that resembled a drive-in movie and showed movie clips from the 1950s and 1960s. Students had to discuss how movies were different from the present time.

Station 3: Drag Racing

We used informative websites about the Chevrolet Corvair and the Ford Mustang. Students were asked to discuss why the characters in The Outsiders preferred these cars. After this, we had a Hot Wheels track set up in the library and students could “drag race” cars they selected.

Station 4: Gangs

We found YouTube videos explaining how gangs were organized in the time period of The Outsiders. Gangs were also discussed from the present in a separate video. Students were asked to respond to questions about gangs from both periods.

Station 5: The Movie & Museum

Students used to answer questions about the movie and the Outsiders House.

Station 6: American Bandstand

Students learned about popular dances from the 1950s and 1960s.

Station 7: 1960s Slang

Students had to match slang from the period with correct definitions.

Station 8: Smoking & Fashion, That Was Then, This is Now

Students viewed smoking advertisements from the period and were asked to compare them to now.

Station 9: Food

We had a menu of barbeque sandwiches, nachos, chocolate cake, and strawberry lemonade (these were mentioned in the book). Students got to watch portions of an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950s while they ate.

Student Feedback

In a Google Form, students indicated that they liked the drive-in movie station the best. Their 2nd place favorite experience was the drag racing station. One student said, “Things back then are a lot different than they are now.” Another stated, “I learned how back then they wanted people to smoke and it was the big thing and the cool thing to do.” Several students made connections to the vaping epidemic of our current time to teenage smoking in the 1950s and 1960s.

Final Thoughts

This has been one of my favorite library collaboration programs to put on in recent years. I wish we could have done something similar when I was a student in school reading The Outsiders for the first time! Such experiences help learners understand different time periods and culture. It also provides an experience they will never forget. If you have lessons related to The Outsiders, be sure to share them in the comments below!