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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Figuring Out the Finches in To Kill a Mockingbird

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/Goldman/TKAM/contents.htm

How it works:
In this unit, students examine and learn about characterization in order to uncover the personalities of the characters of Jem, Scout, and Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s classic Southern novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. Four individual lessons are devoted to characterization and the book's three main characters. This allows the students to write and perform a short play in the classroom that demonstrates their understanding of characterization. By delving into the minds of the characters, students learn about their personalities in a way that enables them to predict how they would act “off the page”. They use the Internet in activities such as reading articles about courage in the character of Atticus and finding quotes that illustrate the relationship between Jem and Atticus.

Standards addressed:  
Students use the general skills and strategies, stylistic and rhetorical aspects, and grammatical and mechanical conventions of the writing process. They gather and use information for research purposes and use reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary and informational texts. They use listening and speaking strategies for different purposes, and use viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Materials used:
Required materials include a computer with Internet access, and props for the student play. Students should each have a copy of the book.

The students:
Figuring Out the Finches in To Kill a Mockingbird is suitable for ninth graders and above who are able to read novels with a certain amount of insight. Students should also have some experience with the concept of characterization. 

Overall value:
This unit benefits students’ skills in reading literature and uncovering deeper meaning. Characterization is an essential part of understanding a novel. When a student can picture how a character would react in situations not displayed in the novel, they are truly engaged in an understanding of the novel. Students are expected to do some close reading of passages to learn about certain characters and how they feel. Although not all students are able to play the characters of Atticus, Jem and Scout, it is important for all students to take the lessons learned here into consideration. Furthermore, when creating the play, the students work together to show how the major characters have matured and changed.

This unit should be started before students read the book (lesson 1) and then continue throughout their reading. Additional links are provided in the teacher section that provide background information about the author and setting, teaching resources online, and other materials to enhance this learning experience.


About the teacher:
Denise Goldman has been teaching English for six years. She is a member of the New York City Writing Project and a recipient of an Impact II grant. She received her master's degree in English Education from NYU in 1999.


Subject Areas: 

Grade Levels: 



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