NOVEL P1 TKAMB Day 7- The Trial

Day 7 – The Trial



“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.

Image result for neural connections

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.

HOMEWORK: A Day- Read chapter 20.  A Day and B Day- Pay attention to your life and those around you. Listen. Watch. Be observant. Find at least 5 things you can connect to To Kill a Mockingbird. These can be connections to the characters, the events, the themes, the symbols, anything. Record your observations in this doc (also posted on Google Classroom). 

*Record as many as you find. Bonus points to whoever finds the most connections to the novel.

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.



NOVEL P1 Day 3

Day 3

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“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.