NOVEL P1 Day 5

Vanilla Ice: Stop, collaborate and listen graphic design



“I Get Out” by Lauryn Hill Connect the song to the novel. Share out.


Introduce today’s collaborative project.

At this point in the novel, students are intimately familiar with the main characters of the novel and they understand the main conflicts. I find that chapters 12-16 do not move the story along too much, but are certainly too valuable to skip out-right.

So, I devised this collaborative activity. 

Active Engagement

Students worked on chromebooks in class, in small groups (3-4) that I assigned. I posted the assignment to Google Classroom.


The presentations are due next class- we will have a quiz as a whole class on all five chapters based on the information presented. (I made the quizzes the day of the presentation).


NOVEL P1 Day 4


Students were asked again to jot their noticings and connections to our novel. This led to a discussion of rhetoric (ethos, pathos and logos). We looked for examples of rhetorical appeals in this video. Students were able to make easy connections to the novel as they just read chapter 9 of TKAMB last night, and this is when we are introduced to the character of Tom Robinson, and all of the neighborhood kids’ response to Atticus defending him.
Unexpectedly students started coming up with “labels” for each character. Dill, for example is a “liar” Scout is a “tomboy” Arthur Radley is BOO- a ghost slash terrifying monster.


Today’s objective: Students will understand how writers use symbols to develop deeper meaning in longer works of fiction. I told students to use their sticky notes to look for possible symbolism in the chapter we are reading today- chapter 10.

Active Engagement

I am sick and can barely speak. I assigned parts to kids who volunteered for them. We had a narrator read all of the narration, and different students read dialogue for different characters- as though we were reading drama. It was really fun, and the kids were totally engaged and loved it. In this chapter, Atticus tells Scout it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. All students picked up on the fact that this was significant, and that mockingbirds were going to be a symbol for… something. We also discussed the name of the dog that Atticus shoots- Tim Johnson, and how it sounds awfully familiar…


Assign chapter 11 for homework, which brings us to the end of PART I of the novel!!! wooooooohoooooo!


NOVEL P1 Day 3 part 2 (B DAY ONLY)


Students were asked again to jot their noticings and connections to our novel. This song touches on some of the stuff Jem is going through in the chapters students have just read. He is moody, reserved, and broody. He is reflective and often lost in thought. He is experiencing his own “coming of age” and “loss of innocence”. He is also undergoing changes in his attitude toward Boo Radley- From one of fear to one of defensive compassion. This song is very much about growing up and losing childhood innocence…



Today’s objective: students will identify ways that writers develop mystery and suspense. We will begin today’s lesson by identifying ways Harper Lee has already created mystery in To Kill a Mockingbird. I recorded our noticings here. I recorded A day noticings here.

Active Engagement

In my B day classes we will review what happened in their assigned reading- chapters 6 and 7. Then we will read chapter 8 looking for moves Harper Lee uses to create mystery and build suspense in the chapter (this is the one when Miss Maudie’s house burns down and Boo Radley comes out).


Assign chapter 9 for homework. Promise a quick quiz for the following class session.

NOVEL P1 Day 3

Day 3

Related image


“I Just Sued the School System” by Prince Ea

Again, students jotted down “noticings” and “connections” to TKAMB.

This is a video and should be shown. It takes place in a courtroom and speaks students’ language. They loved this one. 😉 This led to a discussion of unjust systems and good people who try to change them (Atticus Finch, much?). Additionally, we discussed Scout’s experience in school- and their experience in school.


Review foreshadowing. As a class we compiled these possible foreshadows (with the gentle and almost undetectable hints from yours truly) on a Google doc. I put a blank sheet up on the smart board, and as students voice their ideas, I type them. Then I post this on Google Classroom so students have access to the notes we created in class. Of course many of them take personal notes in their notebooks.

Active Engagement

Read aloud Chapter 5 B day- Chapter 8 A day


Assign chapters 6-7 for homework (Bday). Promise a quick quiz for the following class session. Chapter 9 for homework for A day.

NOVEL P1 Day 2


“I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free” Nina Simone

Students jotted down three things and we compiled them on today’s google doc of notes.

Noticings (cool stuff they noticed about the performance, or the lyrics, or the literary devices- they pulled symbolism of the birds from this one).

Themes (they did this without me asking- nerds. also, yay! last unit is spilling over and we are building on that learning we did in the first quarter).

Connections (to the class, to the novel, to their lives, even other Nina Simone songs!!, etc.)


Define Coming-of-Age and Loss of Innocence. Review Character Development and discuss traits of each character at the beginning – I handed out post-its to each student so they could track changes in the characters and their relationships with other characters.

Active Engagement:

I found that students were bored and confused by the first chapter of the novel- They had some trouble with the dialect. I decided it would be beneficial for them to hear a read-aloud. My thinking is that if they could hear it and read along, their independent reading will be easier. Also, being read aloud to can raise serotonin in the brain. So, I read aloud (chapter 2 on B day and chapter 4 on A day). Students annotated in their books as we read aloud.


Review what has happened so far in the text- I highlight the fact that Scout is a woman reflecting on being 6. Also, I highlight Scout and Jem’s relationship in the beginning so we can track how it develops as Jem matures. We talk about the mystery established early on by the introduction of Boo Radley.

HOMEWORK: B DAY- Read chapter 3-4. A DAY- Read chapters 4-5 READING QUIZ NEXT CLASS.

NOVEL P1 To Kill a Mockingbird Day 1

Poem A Day:

“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. I asked students to try and figure out what the “strange fruit” is and write it in their notebooks. I also asked them to underline the lines in the song that led to their thinking. About 80% were able to figure it out.


This unit will explore sensitive but pertinent issues. I try to quickly communicate the fact that the book deals with serious issues- I remind them that they may not always agree with their peers but that it is important to stay open-minded and, at the very least, to show their peers the respect they want from their peers. After the gravity of the song- this is an easy sell.

Active Engagement:

Image result for the red line

Anticipation Guide. For this activity, I have a thick band of red tape running down the center of my classroom, on the floor. One end of the tape means “agree” and the other end of the tape is “disagree.” The tape acts as a continuum. Students can stand anywhere on the tape, and they can move around as they think and come to new understandings, or see new perspectives. Students love to move around the room, and they love to think out loud with each other in this activity. Every time we do it, my students spend the next few weeks asking when we will do it again. It is a perfect way to begin a unit that ends with a Socratic seminar. Fostering positive, open discourse is a central goal of this unit, and this activity sets it up perfectly. By the end of this unit, students are comfortable thinking, and sharing those thoughts with their peers.

I pose the following statements to the students and they get out of their seats. (you can ask any question that applies to themes you want to emphasize in the novel, or tie to current events. Students were very enthusiastic when answering them. This activity is great as it naturally leads them to making connections between new ideas and what they already know). Also, it gives the teacher a good idea of where students are in their thinking.

-Adults understand things more accurately than children do

-People are born generally good

-If you are innocent, you should not fear the judicial system.


Notebook Response: Is Racism still alive in America today? Give at least three specific details that support your answer.

We had time to start reading so we read most of chapter 1 in B day classes and all of chapter 1 in my A day classes.

For homework, students in B day were asked to finish chapter 1. Students in A day classes were to read chapters 2-3.


Poem A Day:

Today, there is no poem a day.

Take a moment to feel sad feelings about that.



There is just no time. #endofthequarter #thattimeofyear


Objective: Students will put their storytelling techniques to the test!

Today, I remind students of their readers. Writing is not meant to be read by only teachers! Writing is about communicating an idea or feeling, or whatever, and communication is two-sided. There is not just the expression. There is the interpretation.


Active Engagement:

Students are going to work in small groups of 2-3. They will follow the directions in this Google Doc which is posted on Google Classroom. One writer will share their story with the other writers in the group. Once they finish reading it, the readers will discuss the story and attempt to identify the theme of the story, and the narrative techniques used. During this whole process, the writer of the story being discussed, cannot speak.

The writer of the story will have trouble staying silent. They will want to jump in, and interject their intentions or ideas. But here is the kick- we cannot talk to our readers after we publish our work. Writers need to be sure that their work can speak for itself.

They should jot down any things they wanted to say during the process and use these notes to REVISE their stories.


Once finished with the activity, students can continue revising their short stories in class. All students must have a completed final draft of their stories by next class: Friday 11/3 for B Days and Monday 11/6 for A days. I also handed out this rubric for narrative writing grades 9-10. This is what I will use to assess their narratives.

Side Note: So many of my students this year are so into this unit, that they are producing stories that are 5, 6, 9, 16 etc pages long! I think this is a testament to the success of the unit design 😉 Happy and proud Minto.