- Read and comprehend a Pulitzer Prize winning American novel.
- Respond in writing in a variety of ways for a general audience to themes and events in the novel.
- Improve discussion skills.
- Improve oral presentation skills.
- Reading quizzes (5 points each)
- Write two independent blog posts expressing your personal interpretation of the novel’s themes, character’s actions, or other supplied options. See below.
- Work with a partner to create a newspaper that features the depth and breadth of your team’s interpretation of the most important aspects of the novel. You will eventually publish the newspaper and present it to the class.
- Engage in dicussion.
- Movie review (blog post)
- Other activities, including
- Character Exploration
- Blog posts (two) x 20 points each = 40
- Quizzes (five) x 5 points each = 25
- Discussion = 30 (15 for your turn to present, 15 for your general participation)
- Newspaper and presentation= 100
- Movie review = 20
- Other activities = tbd
Reading, Quizzes & Discussion (see the current calendar for reading schedule)
We will pace our reading by breaking the book into six sections:
- Chapters 1-7
- Chapters 8-11
- Chapters 12-15
- Chapters 16-20
- Chapters 21-24
- Chapters 25-31
For each section, we will have a quiz. You will be asked to write as much as you remember about the required section in five minutes. This is to verify that you are keeping up with the assigned reading. The quiz also helps you review the section prior to class discussion. You will want to prepare for the quizzes by reviewing your reading the night before discussion day. You absolutely must have your book with you on quiz/discussion days.
- You will be asked to present a passage from the novel and comment on it to open a dicussion.
- You will respond to a comment in several ways: agree and give your reasons (text based); disagree and give your reasons (text based); extend the ideas by adding another view, a different way to see it (text based); relate the ideas to real life, to your own experience (non-text based).
Writing about the novel (individual blog posts)
The purpose of this assignment is for you to practice your literary analysis and interpretation skills. For this assignment, you must use formal, academic writing. Therefore, it must be written in the third person. When writing your posts, consider your audience. Although not everyone reading your blog will have read To Kill a Mockingbird, they still do not want to merely read a summary or retelling of it. However, most of your readers will have read the novel. They are interested in what you think. As always, remember to back up your opinions with evidence from the text (quotes, paraphrase). Your responses need to be at least 250 words in length. Each response needs to be published as a post, under the “TKAM” category.
Blog Post #1: Characterization
Characterization is the process by which the author reveals information about a character in the text. The author uses a variety of methods to create believable characters including a character’s speech, actions, effect on others and physical appearance. For this assignment, you will analyze a character using evidence from the text to support your claim. Please select one of the prompts below to guide you in writing an analysis paragraph on characterization that you will publish on your blog. Use one of the suggested thesis statements (T) or come up with your own.
- A dynamic character is one who changes by the end of the story, learning something that changes him or her in a permanent way.
- Analyze how Jem develops as a character because of what he learns from Mrs. Dubose. T: Jem’s interaction with Mrs. Dubose teaches him what real courage is
- Mayella Ewell is a complicated character. Her actions lead to Tom Robinson’s death, and it is difficult to condone her lies. However, she can also be seen as a sympathetic character. Discuss how readers may feel sorry for her. T: Even though Mayella Ewell lies on the witness stand, she is still a sympathetic character.
- Several characters serve as moral compasses in the novel. Their words and actions help teach the children about what is right and true. Choose one of the following characters and show how his or her words and actions teach the children. T: The children learn right from wrong through many events in the novel, but (character name) teaches them specifically about _.
- Miss Maudie
- Mr. Dolphus Raymond
- Authors often reveal the personality and beliefs of a character indirectly, meaning that they create characters through their speech, thoughts, actions, effects on others and looks (STEAL). Analyze the qualitites of Atticus Finch by investigating his speech and interactions with others. Be sure you make a statement about the kind of man he is. You can narrow your focus to his qualities as a father, qualities as a lawyer, or qualities as a citizen of Maycomb. T: Atticus Finch is a role model for other fathers (or lawyers, or citizens).
Blog Post #2: Theme
Theme is the underlying idea or insight the author is trying to express to the reader. Often times the writer is making a statement about the world through human experiences or by examining society as a whole. For this assignment you will be investigating one of the central themes of To Kill a Mockingbird using evidence from the text to support your claim. Please select one of the following questions to guide you in writing a paragraph about theme that you will publish as a post on your blog:
- Growing up is hard when children lose their innocence
- Racism makes people act cruelly towards others
- Ordinary people can act in courageous ways, especially in hard times
- Kindness and compassion are the true measure of a person’s worth (give more than one example)
- Loneliness is one of the main themes in the novel. Choose the character you think is most lonely, and explain the factors that contribute to his/her loneliness.
Personal Response: Movie Review
We will be watching the movie after we finish reading the novel. The movie won many awards when it came out not long after the publication of the book. Many people cite it as one of the best movie adaptations of a book ever. What did you think? Write a blog post and address one of the following topics in a well-written, well organized blog post:
- How does the movie differ from the book? Which do you like better and why?
- Which character from the book was best portrayed in the movie and why do you think so? Where there any characters in the movie that you didn’t think fit the characterizations presented in the book? Why?
- What was your favorite scene from the movie? Explain.
- Were you disappointed at all by the movie? In what specific way? What would you have done instead? Be specific.