The Outsiders Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to summarize and examine the plot of The Outsiders. Dig deeply into the theme of social class, then guide students as they use persuasive writing to defend characters' actions.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize the plot of The Outsiders
  • discuss theme
  • demonstrate character's point of view


1 hour

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3

Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.10

By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.1

Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.


  • Begin by asking students to imagine what it would be like for a millionaire to have dinner with a homeless person. Allow a brief flash writing, then share ideas.
  • Discuss what advantages someone with money has over someone without. Is this important? Explain.
  • Tell students they will be reading a plot summary of the novel The Outsiders, which tackles themes of social status and class.
  • With your students, read the lesson The Outsiders: Summary & Characters.
  • As you read through the text, create a plot summary flow chart on the board or chart paper, focusing on finding and recording the main ideas. Have students complete in notebooks.

Discussion Questions

Discuss aspects of the plot in Plot Summary. Ask:

  • Why did the Socs mistreat the Greasers?
  • How did the characters' social class impact their lives?
  • Could the Greasers have done anything differently to change the outcome?

Continue reading the sections Characters: The Curtis Family and Other Major Characters. Dig more deeply into their traits. Ask:

  • What do Darry's actions tell you about him as a person?
  • The Socs think the Greasers are trouble. Is this true? Give evidence to support.
  • What major events led to the death of Johnny? Cold these have been changed?
  • What message is the author sending in this novel?


  • Revisit the interactions between the Socs and the Greasers. Re-read that section if necessary.
  • Divide students into two groups, the Socs and the Greasers. Ask students to write a persuasive argument, defending their actions in the story. Allow students to work in partner pairings or small groups as you see necessary.
  • Circulate the room to check for understanding and guide students.
  • Share arguments and discuss. Have students defend their points of view and evaluate one another's work.


  • For homework, have students write a short story imagining interactions between modern day Socs and Greasers.
  • Ask students to imagine what role social media may have played if it was around during the time of The Outsiders. Discuss.

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