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Lesson Plan   

    Lesson Information
    Outcomes and Standards
    Day Plans
    Enrichment Options
    Teacher Reflection

Stage 1
Identify Desired Results

Catchy Title: Is It Really a Mockingbird?
Theme/Topic of Lesson: A Study of the Novel "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Time Commitment: Four 90-minute periods/blocks
Subject Area(s):
    Language Arts
    Social Studies
Grade Level(s): 9,10,11,12
Standards Alignment:
Class Challenge Question: What were some of the Jim Crow laws that were enacted in the 1930's?
What themes are depicted in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?
How did the Great Depression affect people in general in the United States? 
How was Tom Robinson's trial similar to the Scottsboro Trials?

Harper Lee began to write To Kill a Mockingbird in the mid-1950's, when her home state of Alabama was a hotbed of Civil Rights activity.  Segregation was rampant and African Americans used different fountains, entrances, restroom facilities, were required to sit on the back of public buses, and had to give up their seats to whites.  In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her momentous decision sparked a yearlong bus boycott, which gave new life to the Civil Rights Movement and propelled Martin Luther King Jr. to national prominence.  Civil Rights issues were heating up across the nation also, and so the subject of To Kill a Mockingbird was quite timely.

The basic setting for the novel is in the South during the early twentieth century (1930s).  Due to the Great Depression, poverty is a subject that affects many. Instead of using this as a binding theme, the people in the town use it as an element of separation.   Prejudice of every sort runs rampant throughout the town, and even though things are simply "not fair", the time frame has to be remembered. Many stories have already occurred before the course of the novel begins.

The major event that has started to unravel, prior to the novel, is the case of Tom Robinson and the Ewells.  Robinson, who was a hired hand, is accused of raping Ewell's daughter, Mayella.  The case falls into Atticus Finch's (the local attorney's) lap, not because he believes that Robinson is innocent, but because it is his job to prove the latter. Atticus is a prominent character throughout the novel.  As a single parent, he faces the world, raising his two children with his maid, Calpurnia, (who experiences better conditions and responsibilities than other African Americans of her time, due to Atticus's beliefs).  He has a reputation for being an open-minded, fair man, overflowing with integrity.  It is also learned that he is self-educated, and tries to indoctrinate his children to love education and literature as much as he does.  The relationship he holds with his children should also be noted.  Even though he is incredibly busy, Atticus always seems to find time for Scout and Jem.  He comforts them in their time of need, compromises, but always puts them back in their place if they get out of hand.

Beyond the issues of racial relations and the injustices that minority groups suffered during this time, Lee's novel is also a coming-of-age story.  In this type of story, the central character moves from a state of innocence to one of maturity as the result of suffering and surviving various misadventures.

The characters grapple with other themes and questions as well:  bravery and cowardice; tolerance; compassion; conscience; reason; societal expectations; and prejudice at all levels.  The novel revolves around several symbols, one being the mockingbird. 

The book To Kill a Mockingbird creates a learning environment for the 9th grade level of reading.  Included in this book are many racial and sexual issues. From the 1880's to the 1960s, a majority of U.S. states enforced segregation through Jim Crow Laws (so called after a black character in minstrel shows).  From Delaware to California and from South Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race.  The most common type of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.  Harper Lee also chose to set the story during the Great Depression.  Writers often choose to place a story about a current issue in the past or the future to give readers an objective place from which to ponder the issue.

Before the lesson is started, the teacher will have assessed the skill levels of the students/learning audience and will adapt each lesson to those classes' needs. This would include making sure enough computer use is allowed for those students who are slower in working, have special needs or an IEP, and also make sure adjustment is made in the computer lab or Media Center to accommodate students with visual or hearing impairments. The lesson will address Language Arts, Social Studies and Fine Arts. The teacher will introduce background materials before the actual reading of the novel.  The lesson will focus on the Great Depression and the Scottsboro Trials. Students will be shown a video clip on the Great Depression, given biographical information on Harper Lee, and a lecture on the historical and social background of the novel.  The students will be able to list the causes and effects of the Great Depression and explain the historical background of the novel. Students will also be able to cite similarities between the Scottsboro and Tom Robinson Trials. Once the background foundation had been laid, the teacher will have the students read the novel and complete various activities.

Student activities and projects will include completing a handout on the video and taking notes from all of the historical background information. After being grouped according to skill levels academically and technologically, students will prepare a PowerPoint presentation.  Groups will be given one of the following topics: the Great Depression, The Scottsboro Trials, Jim Crow Laws, or the biography of Harper Lee.

Other projects related to this lesson will include the use of Inspiration to create a character map, an essay on the various themes throughout the story, and a newsletter. Other activities/projects will include completing questions about the chapters.  In addition to the chapter questions, students will be given a set of unit questions that they will answer throughout the duration of reading the novel. All papers must be typed using MS Word. 

The teacher will need to have knowledge of the computer including the following software packages: Inspiration, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher and PowerPoint. Also the teacher must possess knowledge about the novel, the Great Depression, the Jim Crow Laws, the author Harper Lee and the Scottsboro Trials.

Students will need to have some word processing skills, and have a computer with Internet access.  They should also have knowledge of the use of Inspiration, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher and PowerPoint software programs. Websites with PowerPoint, Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Word tutorials will be provided and the assistants in the computer labs will be available as well as the media specialist in the library media center.

Stage 2
Determine Acceptable Evidence

Maryland Content Standards Indicators
Students examine, construct and extend the meaning of a variety of self-selected and assigned text (traditional and electronic) by applying a range of reading strategies and analytic techniques.
Maryland Content Standards Indicators
Students produce informational, practical, persuasive, and narrative writing that demonstrates an awareness of audience, purpose and form using stages of the writing process as needed (i.e., pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing).
Maryland Content Standards Indicators
Students interpret and analyze the meaning of literary works from diverse cultures and authors by applying different critical lenses and analytic techniques.
Technology research tools
(Gr. 9-12)
ISTE Technology Standards

5. Technology research tools

  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.
ISTE Technology Performance Indicators
Routinely and efficiently

Routinely and efficiently use online information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.

Technology communication tools
(Gr. 9-12)
ISTE Technology Standards

4. Technology communication tools

  • Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.
  • Students use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences.
ISTE Technology Performance Indicators
Routinely and efficiently

Routinely and efficiently use online information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.

Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools
(Gr. 9-12)
ISTE Technology Standards

6. Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools

  • Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.
  • Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.
ISTE Technology Performance Indicators
Routinely and efficiently

Routinely and efficiently use online information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.

Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools
(Gr. 9-12)
ISTE Technology Standards

6. Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools

  • Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.
  • Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.
ISTE Technology Performance Indicators
Collaborate with peers

Collaborate with peers, experts, and others to contribute to a content-related knowledge base by using technology to compile, synthesize, produce, and disseminate information, models, and other creative works.

Learning Objectives:

The Students will:
  • Distinguish between the causes and effects of the Great Depression and how it
    relates to the novel.
  • Identify and understand the setting, symbols and themes of To Kill a
  • Understand the personal, social and political issues dealt with in the story.
  • Understand the major conflicts in the story.
  • Discuss the court case in the novel and a make a moral decision on what they
    think is right or wrong.
  • Write a basic essay using the themes and symbols learned about from reading the
  • Understand the content of the Jim Crow laws.
  • Understand the impact of Jim Crow laws at the time.


The students will be assessed using the following assessments:
* Dialogue/observation
* Essay
* Performance task/ projects
* Study Questions
* Character Map
* PowerPoint
* Newsletter

The students scoring form or tools will be:
* PowerPoint Presentation Rubric
* Performance task/project
* Essay Rubric
* Newsletter Rubric

Stage 3
Plan Learning Experiences


Other TechnologyTV and VCR
Desktop/Laptop Computer
Computer Projection Device
Projection Screen
MS Word
MS PowerPoint
MS Publisher
Print MaterialsSparkNotes - To Kill A Mockingbird Aglietti, Boomie, Crowther, Douthat, Ross, and Phillips, Brian (contributors). Spark Publishing. New York: 2002.
Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird Bloom, Harold.  New York: 
Chelsea House Publishers, 1996.
Modern Critical Interpretations: Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird Bloom, Harold. Philadelphia:  Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.
Cliff Notes-Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird Castleman, Tamara. HUNGRY MINDS, INC. New York: 2000.
To Kill A Mockingbird Lee, Harper.  Warner Books. New York: 1960.
The Great Depression: An Eyewitness History Burg, David F. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1996.
The Scottsboro Boys Haskins, James.  New York: Henry Hlt, 1994.
Readings on Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird O'Neill, Terry, Ed. San Diego, CA:  Greenhaven Press, Inc, 2000.
Video(s)1929-1941: The Great Depression National Geographic Society
Educational Video Presentations, 1990 Sidney Platt, Director. 1-800-437-5521
Internet SitesLesson Plans Page
To Kill A Mockingbird A study guide with background information on the story.
The Impact of Jim Crow A website with information and additional links on many aspects of the Jim Crow laws.
To Kill A Mockingbird Study Guide A website with background information, character sketches, plot summary, major conflicts and theme explanations from the novel.
Historical Content: The Scottsboro Trials Historical data on all aspects of the Scottsboro Trials An online addition of the SparkNotes study guide is a website for students, which provides original high quality information on literature, studying, and school-related issues. It mirrors the trusted experience of CliffsNotes books, which students from Junior High to grad school have been using to save study time since 1958.
To Kill A Mockingbird: The Student Survival Guide This website has been set up to be an annotation to the text of the novel (annotations are notes that explain things). As you travel through the site, you'll find more than 400 annotations to help you get more out of your reading. Many of the annotations contain links to pictures or other websites to further help you in understanding your reading.
To Kill a Mockingbird: Growing up in the 1930s. A fun and thought-provoking site that gives readers and excellent understanding of life in the Southern United States during the 1930s.
Basic Essay Writing This website gives information on the guide to writing a basic essay and includes links to other websites on essay writing.
Jim Crow Laws An Internet hotlist, created for this lesson, on the Jim Crow Laws.
Scottsboro Trials An Internet hotlist, created for this lesson, on the Scottsboro Trials.
Great Depression An Internet hotlist, created for this lesson, on the Great Depression
Software Tutorials A hotlist, created for this lesson, of tutorials for software programs students would use to complete the activities in this lesson.

Per class
  • Computer with Internet access, MS Word, MS Publisher, MS PowerPoint, and Inspiration software installed
  • VCR and Television
  • Computer projection device and projection screen
  • 1929-1941:  The Great Depression Video
  • Computer lab access
  • Library media center access
  • Chalkboard/chalk/eraser
Per student team/group of 4
  • Computer with PowerPoint software installed
Per Student
  • To Kill a Mockingbird Novel
  • Computer Usage Survey

  • Essay Questions

  • Guide For Student PowerPoint

  • Essay Guidelines

  • Newsletter PowerPoint

  • Study Questions

  • Guide to Viewing

  • The Scottsboro Trial

  • Vocabulary  (View)
  • Nelle Harper Lee

  • Guidelines for Group Presentation

  • PowerPoint Rubric  (View)
  • Themes Handout  (View)
Not Specified

  • Flivver - [Old Slang] a small, cheap automobile, esp. an old one.
  • Beadle - [Obs] a messenger of a law court.
  • Cannas - any of a genus (Canna) of broad leaved tropical plants, often grown for ornament because of the striking foliage and brilliant flowers.
  • Catawba Worms - a type of caterpillar highly prized by fishermen in the Southern United States.
  • The Crash - the 1929 stock market crash, which gave rise to the period of the Great Depression.
  • Fractious - peevish; irritable; cross.
  • Magnesia - a white, tasteless powder, used as a mild laxative and antacid.
  • Scuppernongs - a golden-green grape of the Southern United States.
  • Aberations - a derivation from the normal or the typical.
  • Lineaments - any of the features of the body, usually of the face, esp. with regard to its outline.
  • Deportment - the manner of conducting or bearing oneself; behavior; demeanor.
  • Obstreperous - noisy, boisterous, or unruly, esp. in resisting or opposing.
  • Philippic - a bitter verbal attack.
  • Umbrage - offense or resentment.
  • Interdict - to prohibit (an action) or prohibit the use of (a thing); for bid with authority.
  • Palliation - the lessening of pain or severity without actually curing; alleviation.


The students will be given an overview of the period:1929-1941 by the video, 1929-
1941: The Great Depression, by PowerPoint presentation, and through a brief discussion
with the teacher. After viewing the video and seeing a PowerPoint on the Jim Crow Laws
and the Scottsboro Trials, students will spend a class period in the library media center to
gather more information. Students will also use the Internet and will spend a class period
in the computer lab to prepare the presentation.  Students will use the PowerPoint tutorial
at and get assistance from the lab manager and the teacher, if
they do not already know how to use the software program.
After the students have completed the reading of the novel, the teacher will provide
handouts and make students cognizant of upcoming projects and the timeline for
completion of the projects.  The teacher will allow the students time to go to the media
center and the computer lab to do research or complete the activity/project.  After reading
the novel, the teacher will test the students' knowledge through study questions, and
discussions. Written assignments will be graded for each individual student.  Students
will also need time in the computer lab to prepare the character map, a brochure and word
processing of the essay.  Knowledge of Inspiration, Microsoft Publisher and MS Word
will be necessary.  The teacher must be flexible enough to accommodate students,
especially those who do not have home access to computers. The instructional strategies
utilized in this lesson will be: cooperative learning, collaborative groups, project-based
learning, think-pair-share, hands-on, and concept mapping.

In order to carefully plan the instruction, the teacher will need to survey students on their
knowledge of computers and the use of the software programs needed to complete all
assignments.  By doing the survey, it will enable the teacher to group students in a more
feasible way and allow him/her to modify if needed for accessibility on different
academic levels. The results of the survey will allow the teacher to assess the student's
needs and make adjustments to delivery of instruction and the materials and technology.

1: The Great Depression, Jim Crow Laws, and the Scottsboro Trial
Daily Challenge Question: What were some of the Jim Crow laws that were enacted in the 1930s'?

Set-up Directions:
Prepare the TV/VCR for the video, 1929-1941: The Great Depression. Prepare a laptop
computer with Inspiration and a computer projection device and screen to conduct the
discussion after the video. This will be done in the media center.  Have handouts ready on
the "Computer Usage/Software Package Survey" and "Study Questions". Have handout
"Guidelines to Viewing the Great Depression Video" ready for students to take notes and
be ready to discuss after viewing the video. Also have handout and website address
( on the "Scottsboro
Trials," and the "Vocabulary," and "Harper Lee" handouts ready for the homework

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:
Conduct survey with students on their knowledge of computers and software programs.

Activity 1 - Survey of Computer Usage and Software Packages
"Computer Usage "survey on students' knowledge of using computer hardware and their
knowledge of the software packages needed to complete all assignments will be
administered to the students to help determine where to place them in groups.
Students will view the video entitled, "1929-1941: The Great Depression", and take notes
on the "Guide to Viewing the Depression Video" handout given to them before the
Viewing Activities
What will your students be responsible for while viewing this piece of multi-media or video?
Students will take notes on the "Guide to Viewing the Depression Video"
handout given to them before the viewing of "1929-1941: The Great
Depression" video begins. The video will be paused halfway through it for
students to focus on answering and clarifying the questions. 
Post Viewing Activities
How will students utilize the information they gathered while viewing the multi-media or video?
Using the Inspiration program, the teacher and students will focus on key
points that the Depression dealt with and discuss them. Elicit students'
responses from what they viewed.

Wrap Up:
Bring discussion to a close.  Answer any open-ended questions students may have related
to the video and the Inspiration exercise.  Pass out reading homework handout "The
Scottsboro Trials" and review with the students. Inform students of the importance of
reading the handout. It will be pertinent to the essay assignment. Remind them that
during the following class days they will go to the library media center and the computer
lab to access the Internet and print resources such as books, magazines, journals, etc.
Day 2: The Great Depression, Jim Crow Laws, and the Scottsboro Trial
Daily Challenge Question: How did the Great Depression affect people in the United States?
1 Day
Set-up Directions:
 Prepare the "Guidelines for Group PowerPoint Presentation" handout for students to complete.  Set up laptop computer and computer projection device for the lecture using PowerPoint to present the lesson to the students. Students will need to be grouped to discuss questions based on the reading of the homework information on the "Scottsboro Trials" and the teacher's presentation.  Teacher should make sure that the media center is prepared for students to do research on the Internet using the hotlists on The Great Depression at , "Jim Crow Laws" at and "The Scottsboro Trials" at

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:
(10 Minutes)
The teacher will use the challenge question to pique the students' interest. The teacher will have student's review the previous day's lesson by discussion. Students will be briefed on their trip to the media center to gather information for their group presentations on all the pertinent preliminary materials before starting to read the book.

Activity 1 - Discussing and Gathering Information
After the review of the previous day's lesson, students will be briefed on the assignment
for the start of the Scottsboro Trials, Jim Crow Laws, Harper Lee Biography or Great
Depression PowerPoint presentations.  Students will be given the "Guidelines for Group
PowerPoint Presentation" and rubric handout. Students will have an opportunity to ask
questions for clarification.  Students will be put into groups according to which topic they
are assigned, and work in the media center or the computer lab to complete their
PowerPoint presentations.

Activity 2 - Library Media Center Research
During the second part of the class, the students will go to the library media center and
work in their groups to gather print materials and use the Internet hotlists for their Power
Point Presentations.

Wrap Up:
Conclude the period by making sure that students have gathered needed materials. 
Inform students that they will spend the first part of the next class period working in their
groups to put the materials they had found in presentation order. The second half of the
class period will be spent in the computer lab to begin work on the presentation.

Day 3: To Kill a Mockingbird
Daily Challenge Question: What themes are depicted in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?
1 Day
Set-up Directions:
Prepare "Essay Questions" and "Essay Guidelines" handouts for students' essay assignment.  Set up laptop computer and computer projection device for PowerPoint presentation to communicate the nature of the assignment to the students.  Teacher should have scheduled the media center computers or computer lab for this lesson. Students will be required to research literary themes in To Kill a Mockingbird, and other information that will assist them in the writing of an essay.

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:
(10 minutes)
Teacher will define and discuss the literary term "theme". Students will be given information on the term "theme."

Activity 1 - Discussing Background, Plot, and Theme
Students will have completed the reading of the book. Students will be given the
"Themes" handout, the "Essay Guidelines" handout and the following website:, which they are to use for
additional literary themes. The information provided here will relate to the essay to be

Activity 2 - Media Center or Computer Lab
Students will spend time on the computers again utilizing the hotlists.  Students will
access information on their essay topic. The "Essay Questions" handout will give the
students the list of essay questions each group will choose from.

Wrap Up:
Conclude this class by having the students give one example, they found on the websites,
that will assist them in writing the essay.
4: Introduction of the Newsletter
Daily Challenge Question: How was Tom Robinson's trial similar to the Scottsboro Trials?

Set-up Directions:
Prepare the media center or computer lab for students to begin work on the newsletter.
Teacher will also need a computer projection device and screen for a PowerPoint
presentation.  Media center or computer lab should be checked to make sure they have
Internet access, Microsoft Publisher and PowerPoint.

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:
Students will briefly discuss the challenge question. The assignment for the day will also
include information on the challenge question.

Activity 1 - Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Students will be randomly selected and put into groups to complete the newsletter
depicting events studied in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Students will be given
topics that can be included in the newsletter and the guidelines for completion. The
guidelines will be given by the teacher-created PowerPoint presentation. Students will
present the groups newsletter via a student-created and graded PowerPoint presentation.

Activity 2 - Flocks Work Together
Students will access the Internet using the hotlists (listed above) and review the
Microsoft Publisher tutorial using the software tutorial hotlist located at

Wrap Up:
Teacher will close out the day's work, give students due date for completion of the
newsletter and answer students' questions.

Enrichment Options
Community Connection
Students could prepare a play depicting life in the 1930s' or on the Civil Rights
movement and perform it for the community.

Field Experiences
Guest Speaker: The teacher could invite retired workers who lived through the
depression and the Jim Crow laws to speak to the students.

Cross-Curricular Extensions
* Fine Arts
* Students can prepare a poster on the mockingbird and it's symbolism in the story.
* Students can create a collage that represents some aspects of the Civil Rights
* Language Arts
* Students can write an essay on various aspects of the story including discussing
the role of family, analyzing the authors treatment of Boo Radley and other
selected topics.
* Students can write character sketches focusing on main or supporting characters
in the novel
* Social Studies
Students can prepare a mock trial.
* Technology
Students can create a newsletter using MS Publisher depicting life in the 1930s'.

Stage 4
Teacher Reflection

As a reflective practitioner, note how this lesson could be adjusted after its initial
implementation. How successful were the students? What did the assessment demonstrate
about the students' learning?  What skills do the students need to revisit?  What
instructional strategies worked and what made them successful?  What will you change
the next time you use this lesson?  Why?

Author: Pat Keith
Modified by: Cheryl Burnelle Ray
Program: Maryland Tech Consortium (MTC)
Author's School System: Prince George's County Public Schools