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Detroit Enterprise Teacher Brings “The Outsiders” to Life

Haley Brink  |  December 13, 2019

It isn’t uncommon to read “The Outsiders” as a student, but it isn’t always taught the same way. Laura Ebnit, sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Detroit Enterprise Academy (DEA), took the book to a new level by demonstrating innovative instructional strategies to engage her students a step further.

“Laura is a phenomenal teacher who makes a difference in our scholars’ lives daily. She breathes life into literacy and writing and the students can feel it. Her data speaks loudly and shows the positive impact she has on our scholars,” said Emily Gagnon, principal at DEA. “We are fortunate to have her as an educator at Detroit Enterprise.”

In a recent unit, students dressed up like the characters, including jeans, white shirts, and black jackets, ate chocolate cake and eggs, and watched the movie in class.

Ebnit’s students were given eight assignments related to be book, including a plot diagram, conflict description and illustration for each type of conflict, a character description with visual images and character traits, and a summary that utilized 12 of the class’ vocabulary terms or roots. Additionally, students conducted analyses of the poem in the text, the imagery connected to the rising action, eight different types of figurative language in the text, and a foreshadowing analysis using evidence.   

The students were able to interact with the book in many fun ways, including building mobiles to hang in class in place of a test.

“Innovative instructional strategies, to me, means using engaging lessons and assignments to get students to think outside of the box to demonstrate their learning and growth,” said Ebnit. “It means being creative with all aspects of lesson planning in order to gain the most from the students.”

She believes that applying these strategies allows her students to engage and connect with the novel in a meaningful way. Her favorite part of this unit was seeing her students dress up and interpret the characters.

“Mrs. Ebnit is a dynamic educator who has innate abilities both instructionally and relationally,” said Lauren Lennon, middle school dean at DEA. “She goes above and beyond daily to ensure her students have the appropriate level of rigor as well as enticing them with high-engagement activities. She creates a culture of love and respect by modeling it with each one of her students.”

Keep up the great work, Laura!