Here are some ideas for you to use while teaching To Kill a Mockingbird.
I have included Unit Goals, Pre-Reading Activities, During Reading Activities, Reading Strategies, and After Reading Activities.
If you would rather have all your prep work done with a full unit plan for To Kill a Mockingbird with lesson plans, a unit calendar, printables, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, and much more, please see my Ultimate To Kill a Mockingbird Unit Plan.
You can learn more here – http://englishunitplans.com/tokillamockingbird/
- Students will have increased awareness of the central issues in the novel: Maturity & Coming of Age, Racism, Social Hierarchies, Class & Gender Discrimination, Parenting, Education vs. Schooling, Hypocrisy, Rumours & Gossip, etc.
- Students will develop their ability to read and interpret literature.
- Students will internalize reading strategies.
- Students will make connections between issues in the novel and current events.
- Students will understand and be able to apply literary terms such as, narrative voice, symbol, episodic narration, characterization, theme, verbal irony and style.
- Students will write an essay that examines an aspect of the novel.
- Eyes on the Prize: View the segment on the Montgomery Bus Boycott initiated by the actions of Rosa Parks, or the segment on the murder or Emmett Till.
- Related Readings: Bring in one or several articles on varying levels of discrimination and/or racism. These articles should spark a lively discussion. For variety, conduct the activity as a jigsaw, with each group getting a different article to read and summarize (verbally) for the class.
- Scrapbook: Students collect articles on current events related to the major issues in the novel (see the list under unit goals).
- Research project: Students can research current of historical events related to the novels major issues.
- Line Toss: Work in groups of 6. Each student has an important line from the novel. Within the group, a ball is tossed randomly. Each person who catches the ball must read his/her line before tossing the ball to someone else.
- First School Memory: Have students write a short response on their first clear memory of being in school. Students may choose to expand these into short narratives.
- Talk show on Scouts First Day of School: Assign students to various character roles (Miss Caroline, Jem, Walter Cunningham, Little Chuck Little, Burris Ewell & Atticus). Have “Oprah” question each character about that first day of school.
- Quick Write: Select a key line from that day ‘s reading and use it as a prompt (or as the first line) of a quick write. As students write, give them other words from the chapter to incorporate in their writing.
- Music: Select theme songs for important character. How does each song suit the character?
- Is Atticus a Good Father? Several Options (all fit for chapters 10-11)
- Value line: Have students stand on a value line to rate Atticus as a father. Ask various students to give their reasons for the ranking.
- Qualities of a Good parent: Brainstorm qualities of a good parent and discuss how Atticus measures up to them. This can end as a discussion or it can lead into· an argumentative paragraph.
- Talk show: Assign students to various character roles (Mrs. Dubose, Aunt Alexandra, Miss Stephanie, Miss Maudie, Calpurnia, Uncle , & Atticus). In a talk show format, have each character comment on Atticus’s skill as a parent.
- Mayella Ewell: Victim or Criminal?
- Debate: With 15-20 minutes to prepare, students should be able to generate enough for a lively debate.
- Argumentative Paragraph: This paragraph can be a follow-up to the debate, or it can stand on its own.
- Maycomb Social Hierarcy: Have students draw a pyramid and place on it all of the social groups in Maycomb. Provide a rationale for each placement (and perhaps a quotation).
- Concept Attainment: Prejudice vs. Discrimination. Use the concept attainment method to help students distinguish between the two of these.
- Improv: Have groups of students improvise the dinner conversation at the Ewell’s home during the court recess.
- Tableau: Have groups of students prepare tableaux of important scenes for review.
- Character Walk (as Boo Radley): This is a powerful exercise for helping students understand the debilitating impact of rumours and gossip. Students form two rows facing each other. These students represent the people of Maycomb and will repeat the rumours and gossip about Boo. Other students play the part of Boo Radley and walk between the lines of students, listening to the gossip. All students should have a turn to play both Boo Radley and the general public of Maycomb.
- Examining Style: Have students read and listen to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Ask them to pick out anything that makes this a memorable speech. Introduce the concept of style as it applies to writing. Look at page 279 in To Kill a Mockingbird and talk about the style of writing used to express Scout’s thoughts and memories.
SOME SUGGESTED READING STRATEGIES
- Summarizing: Students summarize events as they read. Initially this might be every few pages. It can also mean a verbal summary with a partner at the end of a chapter.
- Prediction: (a) Object prediction (b) Sort and Predict with vocabulary
- Guided Reading: Stop several times during oral reading to have students write a 2 sentence summary and to compose 1 question. Students can internalize this strategy and use it while reading silently.
- Key Words: List key words for the upcoming passage, define them with students and ask students to look for the words in that day’s reading.
- E-zine: Students work in groups to create an electronic magazine on an issue linked to the novel. To complete this project students will demonstrate computer use skills, research skills and literacy skills.
ideas for teaching to kill a mockingbird, to kill a mockingbird activities, to kill a mockingbird lessons
Almost all English teachers will have, at some point, taught Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. The story, which explores injustice and racial prejudice in America’s deep south, has long been a staple on school syllabuses around the world.
That’s why educators will have waited with bated breath for the book’s long-awaited sequel, Go Set a Watchman, to finally hit the shelves – picking up from where Mockingbird left off some 20 years on.
The re-emergence of this classic story is a great opportunity to get your students excited about Lee’s original novel. This week the Guardian Teacher Network brings you lots of ideas and resources to help you explore this much-loved tale.
How to teach ... creative writing
Jump straight into chapter one with this PowerPoint about the literary techniques that are used in the opening. Lee’s language helps paint a vivid picture of life in the fictional town of Maycomb. Working in groups, ask students to record their first impressions of Scout, the book’s protagonist, on a large spider diagram. In pairs, challenge your class to find and describe the effect of different similes and metaphors. Or, as an individual task, ask for written paragraphs about Jem Finch, Scout’s older brother, based on what they have learned through Lee’s use of description, dialogue and action. The presentation is accompanied by five worksheets and the full resource is available on the Teacher of English website.
The book is full of complex and engaging characters for your students to discover. This worksheet by webanywhere.co.uk will help your class build a character portrait of Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, adding key information, details of small (but significant) events, and important quotations. One of Atticus’s most memorable lines – “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” – comes in chapter three. As a literacy task, challenge students to explain what they think he means in 100 words.
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Once you’ve tackled the characters go beyond the written text and explore the film version of the story. Ask students to think critically about how the book has been adapted for the screen. There are lots of tools to help you do this including this guide by Into Film. It looks at adaptations of seven popular novels – such as Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird. Students are encouraged to think about the suitability of the actors chosen to portray the main characters and how effectively narrative elements such as structure and symbolism are conveyed. Do they agree with the review that describes the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird as “a masterpiece in its own right”? As an extension task, ask students to write a script for the scene where Scout and Jem are attacked on their way home from the pageant from the point of view of Boo Radley.
If you’re studying To Kill a Mockingbird for an exam, you need to get your class prepared for likely questions. This resource gives students the chance to read GCSE sample essays with examiner’s comments. Another handy resource for GCSE students asks how Lee uses of the trial of Tom Robinson to explore themes of social and racial prejudice.
Another good way to revise is through games – a great way to help students recall information. This set of dominoes by Teachit English could be used as a whole-class activity to reinforce knowledge of plot, characters and key quotations. We also have a pub-style quiz and a role-play activity that explores the events in chapter six, when Jem, Scout and Dill peek through the shutters of Boo Radley’s house, and a sequencing task. Groups could devise a quiz of their own, similar to this one on the Guardian Children’s Books site, or they could use highlighter pens to create a colourful mind map using this template.
Finally, catch up on the story from where it left off 55 years ago. Ask your class to read the first chapter of Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman. The story is also available as an audio recording so why not sit back and let the whole class listen to what comes next? What are students’ first impressions? To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated in the first-person while Go Set a Watchman is told in the third-person. What other similarities and differences can students find? These ideas could be recorded in a newspaper-style review or blog post. Alternatively, students could use their knowledge of the themes in To Kill a Mockingbird to design a fresh book cover to contrast with or complement the new release.
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Another interesting task would be to research the background to the publication of Go Set a Watchman. Although set 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, it was actually Harper Lee’s earliest-known work and her first submission to publishers. Can students find out what happened to the original manuscript after it was written in the mid-1950s? And what do students make of claims that Lee may have written a third novel? This resource will help students find out more about the context in which To Kill a Mockingbird was written and the period in which it is set.
Have you got a teaching resource or lesson plan you want to share with the Guardian Teacher Network community, upload it here.