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New Teachers New York:
Lesson Plans by New Teachers, For New Teachers

What Is Setting?
How do time, place and actual occurrences affect fiction?


What is setting, and how does it affect To Kill a Mockingbird?

1) Students will understand the definition of what setting is, and be able to identify the setting of TKAM.

2) Students will be able to connect actual occurrences and historical facts to the setting of TKAM, and identify how setting influences the novel.

Created by Akiko Minaga
Location: Louis D. Brandeis High School
Grade: High School
Subject: English
Subject: Special Education

About the teacher
Akiko Minaga is a second year, Special Education high school English teacher at Louis D. Brandeis High school. She also teaches SETSS and Keyboarding.


Vocabulary Concepts

  • Setting
  • The Great Depression
  • Deep South Discrimination
  • The Scottsboro Trials
  • Jim Crow Laws

For the Do Now, the teacher will have students define "setting" using the dictionary. The teacher will facilitate discussion around what students can identify as the setting of TKAM. The teacher will then guide students through the group activity that will further their knowledge of the setting of TKAM. Students will be divided into groups of 2 or 3. The information gathered through the group activity will be shared at the end of class.

Each group will receive an envelope with pictures and brief articles and clippings regarding one of the key historical concepts mentioned above. Students will be given 15-20 minutes to put together a brief 3-5 minute presentation that will teach the class about their topic. They should answer the following questions within their presentation:

  1. What happened in this event, or what is this concept?
  2. Where do we see this topic mentioned in TKAM?
  3. How is this topic significant to TKAM?
  4. Why is it important to know this information to further our understanding of the book?

Students will present their information and take notes on the other groups' presentations.

Students will write one paragraph on what they learned from another group's presentation, and how it relates to TKAM.

The teacher will assess students for on-task behavior and their completion of the four questions. Homework will also be checked to see comprehension of other concepts.

Standards Addressed
New York State Standards for English Language Arts

Standard 3: Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation. Students will listen, speak, read, and write for critical analysis and evaluation. As listeners and readers, students will analyze experiences, ideas, information, and issues presented by others using a variety of established criteria. As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language to present, from experiences, ideas, information and issues.

Standard 4: Language for Social Interaction. Students will listen, speak, read, and write for social interaction. Students will use oral and written language that follows the accepted convention of the English language for effective social communication with a wide variety of people. As readers and listeners, they will use the social communications of others to enrich their understanding of people and their views.

This lesson is targeted for a high school sophomore-level Special Education English class.

Overall Value
This is a lesson that can be easily modified. The reading level of the material can be adjusted according to students or groups, and the material can be leveled.

Teacher Tips
For students with lower reading levels, you can highlight the important facts to make the gathering of information easier. It may help to use pictures with captions, instead of lengthy texts, for severely limited students.


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