The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
I always tell my students that if this book was set in the current time period, no one would let me teach it. The fact that it is set in the 1960s, allows us to talk about tough topics like family, dysfunction, gangs, identity, teen pregnancy, "suicide by cop," socio-economic bias, bullying, and the like. These are intense topics, and students are more than willing to dive into some very serious conversations about them.
Every year I do things a bit differently. I love to adapt the material, so I'll include a bit of everything below. The items in teal, I'm doing this year. Feel free to make copies and use them with your students!
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
This is one of my favorite books to teach, as it allows for important conversations about difference, identity, and bullying. It is an "easy read," and I provide the audio for students as well. My objective with this novel is to make space for conversations about identity and build community before we begin writing our Credo Essay.
Weary of letting students use an audiobook? Read this.
Make a copy of the Figurative Language and Literary Devices Test for Stargirl
Students can study using this Quizlet
Credo Essay: "This I Believe
The Credo Essay is a great alternative to a memoir. I've found that some students don't have a great "defining" moment that they can put their finger on. The Credo Essay allows students to zero in on a belief, but if they have a story to go with that belief, they are encouraged to share. This is always really enlightening. Usually this is an October activity, but this year has slowed everything down and caused major changes. Nevertheless, here it is.