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To Kill a Mockingbird Unit Plan

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

''To Kill a Mockingbird'' is a classic novel taught in many schools. This lesson provides a framework you can use to create a unit for teaching this novel that lays out objectives, in-class discussion topics, and written assignment options.

Overview of the Novel

To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of Scout and Jem during the Great Depression, when racism and segregation were common, especially in the South where the story takes place. As white children, Scout and Jem have yet to understand the challenge of the black community. However, during this story they learn about innocent black men accused of crimes, while experiencing the kindness and acceptance of black people in their town. By the end of the novel, the children understand they need to be more open-minded and see people as individuals.

Goals and Objectives

Depending on the focus of your unit on To Kill a Mockingbird, you can use this unit plan and customize it as needed. Since this book is full of law, history, and morality, it can be taught at many levels for many subjects. Some possible learning objectives for students include:

  • Learn about the Great Depression and the experiences of people during those days
  • Learn about racism, how it affects people individually and as a community
  • Learn all literary terms and how to relate them to this book
  • Learn about justice, and be able to compare past laws to current ones
  • Learn how to research and analyze aspects of the novel and the Great Depression

Lesson Layouts for Use in Class

Following is a layout for in-class discussions and assignments throughout the reading of To Kill a Mockingbird. Depending on the level of the class or the type of student, you can choose several or just one of these.

Pre-Reading

Prior to reading To Kill a Mockingbird it is good to get the students thinking about their environment verses the environment in Alabama during the Great Depression.

  • Find one event during the Great Depression that stands out and explain why.
  • Get together in groups to discuss examples of historical racism.
  • Find a song or poem based on racism that they find poignant and explain why.
  • Choose a historical figure that changed stereotypes or racism.

Chapters 1-5

  • Research journal or newspaper articles online and find similar racism issues in the news today.
  • Discuss Scout, what kind of child she is, and her viewpoints.
  • Lay out similarities and differences between Scout and Jem.
  • How does Scout's age affect how she discusses the events so far? If we heard from Atticus instead, what do you think we would hear?
  • The book is full of interesting names; ask the students if this affects how they see the characters and explain why or why not.

Chapters 6-10

  • Analyze two characters of choice.
  • Discuss Jim Crow laws and their effects.
  • Discuss classic stereotypes of the present day. Have the students discuss modern stereotypes and compare them to ones in the novel thus far.
  • Research why the book has been banned and criticized. Do the students agree or disagree?

Chapters 11-15

  • Research and discuss judicial processes, and compare those during the Great Depression and current processes. Do the students know of examples where justice was questioned?
  • How has Scout changed so far in the story?
  • Group discussion on how the book is making everyone feel at this point. Why?
  • Discuss why the author chooses to use offensive language like nigger in the book.

Chapters 16-20

  • Identify the cause and effects in the story so far.
  • Go over vocabulary words in these chapters that are unique.
  • Discuss equality and whether it could ever be a true possibility in the world today.
  • Analyze the current laws. Do they promote equality? Yes or no? Why or why not?

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