Copies of "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" by Bret Harte, lyrics and audio for "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers, pens, pencils, paper.

Objectives (based on the North Carolina Standard Course of Study):

  • The student will demonstrate the ability to read a variety of increasingly complex print texts by identifying textual components and evaluating their impact on the text and by summarizing the main events from the text.
  • The student will interpret and evaluate representative texts to deepen understanding of literature of the United States.
  • The student will apply standard conventions of grammar and language usage.

amphitheater, anathema, bellicose, expatriated, equanimity, guileless, philosophic, predisposing, virtuous, vituperative, vociferation


1. Play "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers while displaying the lyrics to the song on an overhead or on handouts. Discuss the main ideas and images of the song. What happened to "The Gambler"? What was his advice? Can you apply that advice to your own life? Write the main events in the song in list form on an overhead.

2. Introduce "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," explaining that it is a fictional story set in the West in the 1850s. Consider that the author, however, was born in 1854 and lived until 1902. Discuss how he might have obtained his information and ideas for the story.

3. Read "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Ask students to keep a list of important events in the story as it is read. The teacher may guide the first few entries by writing a list similar to the one in Step 1 on the overhead.

4. When you have finished reading the story, ask students to share events they have listed.

5. Divide students into groups. Using "The Gambler" as a template, ask them to write their own lyrics about "The Outcasts of Poker Flat."

6. Ask students to present their lyrics to the class.


The list of key events can be evaluated for completion and comprehension. The lyrics to the original song can be evaluated for completion and effort.


Harte, Bret. "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2007.

Rogers, Kenny. "The Gambler." 29 July 2009.

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