I haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird in ages. But I knew I loved the book and I wanted my students to feel the same.
To begin working with the novel, I set up a classroom activity. I split the class into groups with several topics to help preview some of the essential background information.
These were the groups:
- The Author – Harper Lee
- Scottsboro Trials
- Jim Crow Laws
- Growing up Black vs. Growing up White
- The Dust Bowl
- Great Depression
These are all topics that relate to To Kill a Mockingbird, whether the novel’s author, setting, relevant information, issues and topics of that time, or just essential background that could help strengthen the students’ understanding before they read.
I split the students and had them read articles on each of the topics individually, then collaborate with their groups. By the end of the period, we started talking about the topics and recording notes.
Here are some of the main topics:
We also talked a lot about the author, Harper Lee and her influences on the story. [Once the students finished Part I, my plan was to go back over this and talk about the differences between the 30’s and 60’s–the setting of the story vs. the time period Harper Lee was writing in.]
I think that talking about these topics was helpful. It allowed the students to gain knowledge before reading, and hopefully spark their thinking about racism, segregation, and unfair treatment of African Americans during the time of Scout and Jem Finch.