TKMB End of P1 (Days 11-13)

Day 11

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NO Poem-A-Day delayed opening #snow


Introduce the purpose and format of a Socratic seminar- the final assessment for this first part of the unit. 

Active Engagement

Students create open-ended questions for the seminar.


Reminders about final projects and take questions about the seminar

Day 12- work on final projects/prepare for seminar

Day 13

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“Landlocked Blues” Bright Eyes Prompt: Bright eyes discusses walking away from violence in order to end the vicious cycle of hate (a running theme in the course). Who stops the cycle of hate at the end of To Kill A Mockingbird?


Reminders about rules for seminar.

Active Engagement

45 minute Socratic seminar. I literally did not have to speak at all. Kids were so engaged and showed depth of thought that I thought would not be possible upon meeting them only a few months ago. I was observed for this lesson, and here was the feedback (so you don’t have to take my word for it).

“I observed your ‘freshmen” in a Socratic Seminar format discussing To Kill a Mockingbird. Following the script I took you can see the dominant role students played in their “own learning” during this activity. They had questions and then questions upon their questions – they had responses and had the text examples for immediate support – they were effortless in their engagement – they were “into” that novel like they lived in Maycomb. They clearly showed comprehension, close reading commentary, comparison analysis among the characters and events, projection, even to questions about the author’s choice of events and what motivated characters…beyond the textual analysis they discussed a higher level of understanding by applying the moral values and how the events of the story unfolded to expose the purpose — human equality – they had many examples of “coming of age” and how experiencing the “bad stuff” helps them understand life better even if it is the “cruel” side of life. They had full personality portraits of the characters which reflects the well rounded instructional lessons from you that preceded this culminating event. Students found an inner meaning in the novel with very insightful quotes and comments like “Why did the author have Tom shot?” and  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin…” This was a model lesson – clearly one that reflects some powerful guidance on your part. I commend you for this and for allowing your students to find their own voices and not giving them a formula with which to read this novel but have the liberty to question and probe. This is what learning is about and this is how, in our 21st Century, how it should be taught.”

It was a success, and that is why I decided to publish this unit.

Final Projects:

Here are just a few final projects that were submitted and were amazing. Each reflects depth of knowledge and active engagement.

TKAMB P1 Day 9

Day 9

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“Blackbird” The Beatles

Pop-quiz on the reading homework. Who is the Blackbird in To Kill a Mockingbird? Everyone who read got super emotional- they pointed to lots of good evidence for Tom Robinson


I had to act quickly for this day because a good chunk of students did not read the three chapters. I had chromebooks for this one, thank goodness.

I shared a google slideshow with all students in the class; I had all of the students who had done the assigned reading create a presentation with a summary, important quotes and character development in the assigned reading.

I had the students who did not read on the right side of the room and they read until they were finished. Once they finished reading, they hopped on the presentation and contributed.

Active Engagement

You read that right: I had the entire class collaborate on one slideshow. It was funny and fun and entertaining. And by the end of the class, we looked through the slideshow, we discussed the reading, everyone was sad about Tom Robinson, and we were all back on the same page… literally.


Here are some of the slideshows that came from this activity:

One Class


TKAMB P1 Day 8

Day 8 – The Verdict

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“Seven-nation Army” White Stripes. Prompt: Which character do you think would like this song most? Which lines make you think that? (My answer: Atticus Finch. I heard good arguments for Jem and Tom).


Read aloud chapters 20-22. This is Atticus’s closing statement and the verdict- kids were rapt.

Active Engagement

Introduce FINAL PROJECT and RUBRIC, and explain that students should think about what they want to do but be mindful of the fact that we have not yet finished the book.


Read Chapters 23-25 for homework.

TKAMB P1 Day 7

Day 7 – The Trial

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“Changes” 2Pac Connect the song to the novel (themes of racial injustice)


This lesson is sort of a Ms. Minto Specialty because of my cognitive science education- I will relay (as best I can) what I did and said to the kids this day; it is the most “lecture”like lesson of the unit.

I should note, at this point in the unit, students are finally about to read Tom Robinson’s trial.

After students made connections between a Tupac Shakur song and To Kill A Mockingbird, I gave a lesson about how learning is all about making connections, like, literal connections in the brain.

I tried to illustrate the concept on the whiteboard but I am notoriously terrible at drawing.

Electricity travels through neurons in your brain, and when you learn a new concept, or practice a new skill, or have a new thought, that electricity leaps across a gap between neurons called a synapse. Learning is all about making connections between neurons. It is a concrete thing happening. Furthermore, the more you practice a skill, or think a thought, a thin bit of material called the myelin sheath forms between the involved neurons, which helps the electricity to travel faster; it almost acts as a bridge. When a toddler tries to pick up a penny off of the ground, it is tricky. The first time they do this, electricity has to, in effect, try hard to make this new connection between neurons. A new leap. The more the toddler practices, the easier the leap becomes, until it is second nature. The neurons fire and tell the muscles in the hands what to do. It’s pretty neat. And I love the idea that learning involves making lasting connections in our minds both literally and figuratively.

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Active Engagement

Because learning involves making connections, I challenged myself to connect as many things as I could to the section of the book we were about to read. This is where I showed those things.

But first, we watched the trial scene in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird.

First: Remind them of the Poems-A-Day so far in the unit.

Second: Making a Murderer  trailer (legal injustice)

Third: Legally Blonde court scene where Elle Woods pulls and Atticus Finch (with the left arm/hand thing)

** I just heard this news story on NPR about mandatory sentencing… very interesting connections. The list goes on. Pull things that are timely when you teach the unit if any of these materials make you uncomfortable. The purpose is to get students thinking critically about justice, and sadly, injustice — a prominent theme in the book.


Students were disappointed when the bell rang for this lesson. In. Every. Class. It was a winner. I assigned chapter 19 for homework.

I have to note here that some amazing conversation came out of this lesson. One student wondered out loud: Maybe the myelin sheath solidifies racism. Maybe you could wear down your own myelin sheaths over time by rejecting your own racist tendencies or thoughts. Very interesting thinking and learning happening.

TKAMB P1 Day 5

Day 5

Vanilla Ice: Stop, collaborate and listen graphic design

Kids were starting to get bored with reading during class. Shocker. It really bothers me when kids are bored, so I stepped up my game. The rest of this unit is stellar, in my opinion. And, the data suggests it was wildly successful.


“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).