To Kill A Mockingbird

Does anyone have any novel (pun intended) ideas about teaching To Kill A Mockingbird? I do some fun stuff and enjoy the book, but I’d love to learn some new ideas. Toss ’em my way. Maybe I can toss a couple back your way.

8 thoughts on “To Kill A Mockingbird

  1. Blogger Teacher (whom you adore)

    I’ve taught this MANY times. And now, LAUSD has it as part of their “semi-scripted curriculum”.

    Would help to know the sort of things you’re looking for. Let’s see if I can get my spring break riddled brain thinking.

    My favorite thing to do is an “into”, before I even fully introduce the book. I do a “write like”. There are two paragraphs in Chapter 1 (don’t have my book in front of me)that start of “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a quiet old town when I first knew it”. I give them these two paragraphs, have them identify all the verbs and nouns, and then have them write their own based on where they live or a place they’ve been. These can get really creative and is a fun way to start especially considering the first half of the first chapter is quite dull.

    Speaking of that first chapter. A timeline of the background history of the story is good. I do a large one on chart paper. I fill a couple things in and then give my students open floor to get up and add things to that timeline as they come across them in the book. Sticky notes work well for this, especially if they stick something out of sequence; you can easily fix.

    Another thing my tenth graders like are creative projects. So, I think around Chapter 7 is when the house burns down. This is juxtaposed with the snowy weather. I have the kids illustrate a simile or metaphor from this chapter. I have them do half the sheet of one and half of the other.

    I’m sure there’s more but my files are at work 😀

  2. John Spencer

    When our eighth graders read it, we do the following:

    The students complete a community Needs Assessment (survey and qualitative interview) on injustice and race – we discuss questions like “Can someone from one race understand someone from another?” and “Who are the Atticus Finches of your community?” We then use this data to plan an advocacy project. Built within it, we do a book blog on the topic and include questions like, “Is Atticus being altruistic or imperialist?” and “How does this take on racial injustice compare to the characters in Invisible Man?” We add some podcasts (debate, interview, mock press conference with characters).

    I realize that I teach social studies, so these ideas might be irrelevant, but the book becomes a larger part of the rest of what I teach that unit. I don’t know if this helps at all, but it worked well for us.

  3. Nadia

    I read this book in high school, which feels like ages ago. I only remember one of the activities that was assigned. After we finished reading each chapter our teacher had us write a title for it. I think part of the reason it was so memorable was because she had us use a pencil & actually write our title IN THE BOOK at the beginning of the chapter. I had never had a teacher give permission to write in a book before.

  4. Gym334

    I taught this book every year toward the end of the school year. I taught it as literature on film along with playing section on unabridged audio tape with the same section displayed for the kids on the overhead.

    My Louisiana kids learned it as a story about a South that they have never known (The south in which I grew up:) For eight graders in is see from scout and Gems point of view. A story about what happens to them. They love it, and many go on to read the book itself.

    I have read it every three to five years through out my life from age twenty to my current almost seventy. That in addition to teaching it three times each year for fifteen years. Like all great works of literature I find something new in it every time. It really is a different book every five years you age. You start out seeing it as I said as Scout and Gem’s story, and grow into it being the story of the adult characters.

    We do journal entries about the different aspects of the book and an essay *Choosing from half dozen options or designing our own individual topic. This along with notes and lots of discussion as the story progresses.

    Not sure this is at all relevant to your post, but I sure enjoyed writing about it:)

  5. Emily Smith

    To Kill A Mockingbird on Shmoop might help you. It has a very interesting section related to allusions and cultural references which calls for students to put their thinking caps on and discover further connections between this classic and others such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Bible for example. Interesting stuff and worth a look, I think.


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