Through Harper Lee’s classic novel we will study how people’s perspectives change as they grow, how prejudice clouds our judgment, and what it means to be a just person. We will study civil rights / human rights issues and rhetoric through important speeches from such influential figures as Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Malcolm X, John Kennedy, and Elie Wiesel.


We will also study the historical issues surrounding the Jim Crow South, including lynching from post Civil War through very recent history. We will also study other impacts of race not only in the 1930s and the 1960s, and the racial issues we still struggle with today. Aside from speeches we will look at art, poetry, and music from Paul Laurence Dunbar, Norman Rockwell and Billie Holiday, to Jim Henson, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou.


By the end of this unit students will develop not only an understanding of race issues, poverty, and social justice, but also how perspective taking can help them in all aspects of life, how to make effective stands against injustice, and how to best argue rhetorically in pursuit of justice.


Speech excerpts (packet)


Lesson Title: Introduction and Chapter One


Time Frame: 2 classes


Overview: In two classes we are introduced to the novel, read the first chapter, watch a short piece of the film, then make inferences and predictions as to character, setting, and plot. In the third




Introduction, and Chapter One (lesson plan)


Character / Setting / Plot: Chapter One



Lesson Title: Miss Caroline (Chapters 2 and 3)


Time Frame: 3 classes


Overview: Students read chapters 2 and three taking notes on mistakes new teacher, Miss Caroline, makes, and then make inferences as to why they believe she made those mistakes. After discussions on day one, students are asked to find solutions to rectify those mistakes for home work. Finally, on day two students write as Miss Caroline incorporating evidence, inference, and ideas on rectifying those issues.




Miss Caroline (Lesson Plans)


Miss Caroline's Mistakes (handout)



Lesson Title: Inferring Walter, and Lies (chapters 2, 3, 4)


Time Frame: two classes


Overview: Day One - students talk about how effects of fiction on brain development, and re-read chapters two and three with a new focus on making inferences about Walter Cunningham's life from evidence found. Day Two - students share ideas and inferences, and discuss how to make inferences better. They then read chapter four thinking about their unreliable narrator, and characters and how they lie, exaggerate, and are sometimes just ignorant of what's actually happening.




Inferring Walter, and Lies (lesson plans)


Fiction Makes Our Brains Better (Discovery Channel video, 3 min)


Inferring Walter Notes (doc)


L.I.E. Notes: Lies, Ignorance, and Exaggeration (handout)



Lesson Title: LIES, Divisions, and Susan B. Anthony (chapter 5)


Time Frame: Three Classes


Overview: Students read a speech by Susan B. Anthony on the right for women to vote, and unfair divisions in society. They then read, and re-read chapter 5 to analyze the theme of divisions in society.




LIES, Divisions, and Susan B. Anthony (lesson plan)


Divide and Conquer Notes (handout)


Susan B. Anthony "On Illegally Voting as a Woman" (speech)


Speech excerpts (packet)


Jem, and understanding Boo (ch 6 and 7 handout)



Lesson Title: Jem understanding Boo (chapters 6 and 7)


Time Frame: Two Classes


Overview: Students read chapters 6 and 7, then re-read to find instances that hint at Jem starting to understand more about Boo Radley than Scout does.




Jem Understands Boo (Lesson Plan)


Crash Course "Why We Read" (6 min video)


Jem Understands Boo (handout for notes)


Chapter 8 "Important Excerpts" (homework)




Lesson Title: Important Excerpts from Chapter 8


Time Frame: One Class


Overview: For homework students read chapter 8 and find excerpts they believe are important to the novel and will yield incredible discussions. On day two they work in their groups doing the "Save the Last Word" exercise to discuss those excerpts.




Chapter 8 Important Excerpts (Lesson Plan)



Lesson Title: The N-Word – Historically and Presently


Time Frame: One Class





While we are never going to use the n-word in class, our novel does use it. It would be easy enough to just ignore it, or declare it part of the past and not think about it. But it would be irresponsible of us not to learn the history of the word, and the shadow the word casts beginning with the horrors of slavery. And we will hear from several speakers about how the word is used now, and who can use it.


The N-Word- Historically and Presently (lesson plan)


CNN’s Origins of the N-Word (video 3 min)


BuzzFeed’s WHAT THE N-WORD FEELS LIKE (video 3:10 min)


President Obama on Marc Maron’s WTF (video 1:10 min)


Franchesca (Chelsea Leigh) Ramsay’s THE N-WORD “DOUBLE STANDARD” (video 5:15 min)


2016 Correspondents’ Dinner, Larry Wilmore (video 2 min)


N-Word1 Obama Bumper Sticker (image)

N-Word2 Obama store sign (image)

N-word3 Obama Headline (image)



Lesson Title: Scout be a lady?


Time Frame: Two Classes




We'll watch Roxanne Gay's TEDtalk on feminism, and discuss the importance of feminism. We'll also discuss how what it means to be "ladylike" has changed, and what acting like a "lady" meant in the 1930s. Then students read chapter 9 collecting examples of Scout exhibiting “unladylike” behavior, any expectations of what a lady should act like, or Aunt Alexandra’s expectations of Scout and ladies in general.

Students do close reading of excerpts and discuss, then look for the themes in two commercials ("Ban Bossy" and "Labels Against Women")




Roxanne Gay's TEDtalk on Feminism (12 min)


Scout be a lady? (ch 9 lesson plan)


"Scout be a Lady?" (Chapter 9 notes)


"Ban Bossy" commercial


"Labels Against Women" commercial



Lesson Title: Is Harper Lee really Scout?


Overview: Students read non-fiction excerpts from the Harper Lee biography Scout to compare characters from TKAM to their real life counterparts, and present their findings.




Is Harper Lee Scout? (lesson plan)


Harper Lee and Capote "Buying Compliments" (Capote film clip)


"Scout" The Biography of Harper Lee (excerpts, doc)




Lesson Title: Seeing Atticus


Time Frame: One class


Overview: Students read chapter 10 for homework, then discuss the metaphors of "killing mockingbirds" and how we don't really know our parents. Close-reading and discussion fun.




Seeing Atticus (ch 10 lesson)


Who sang it first - Mockingbirds or New Orleans' Musicians (NPR)


Mockingbird Serenade (video, 7 min)


Mockingbird 1 (jpg)


Mockingbird 2 (jpg)


The Antagonistic Mrs. Dubose Ch 11 Notes


Lesson Title: The Antagonistic Mrs. Dubose


Time Frame: One Class


Overview: Students share notes, do close reading, and discuss passages.




The Antagonistic Mrs. Dubose (Ch 11 lesson)


Homework: Ch 12 article and notes - Code-Switching (doc)


Lesson Title: Code Switching (Ch12)


Time Frame: One Class


Overview: Students learn about code switching, re-read examples of code-switching in the chapter, and discuss its use in their own lives.




Code-Switching (Ch12 Lesson)


Key and Peele - Code-Switching Phone Call (video)


Presidential Code-Switching Handshakes (gif)


Homework notes chapter 13 - Inferring Aunt Alexandra



Lesson Title: The Lynching of Emmett Till


Time Frame: Three Classes


Overview: Students watch and discuss The Murder of Emmett Till PBS documentary. The topics of written and unwritten rules in the Jim Crow South, Lynching, and social justice are discussed.




- The Murder of Emmett Till PBS documentary


The Lynching of Emmett Till (lessons)


Emmett Till Notes (doc)


Emmett Till Day One Homework: TKAM chapters 13, 14, 15 (until the end of the lynch mob chapter) pgs 127-155


Emmett Till Day Three Homework: TKAM chapters 16 - 21 (until the end of the trial) pgs 155 - 211


Lesson Title: Bein Green, Deferring Dreams, and Wearing Masks


Time Frame:






Bein Green, Deferring Dreams, and Wearing Masks (lesson)


Green Mask Deferred - Poems (doc)


"We Wear The Mask" awards performance (video, at 4:46)


"Bein Green" Sesame Street 1976 (video)


Homework: Strange Fruit, and Black and Blue (article and lyrics)


Lesson Title: Strange Fruit, Black and Blue


Time Frame: One Class




Black and Blue Strange Fruit (lesson plan)


Billie Holiday "Strange Fruit" live performance (video)


Billie Holiday belts out a song (pic)


Billie Holiday with flower (pic)


Louis Armstrong "Notes in Black and White" (pic)


Louis Armstrong classic smile (pic)



Lesson Title: Painters and Color


Time Frame: One Class


Overview: In “Painters and Color” students look at the paintings of Aaron Douglas, Lois Mailou Jones, and Norman Rockwell and their ties to the Civil Rights Movement.




Painters and Color (lesson)


Painters and Color (PPT)



Lesson Title: Contrasting the Trial (Ch16-21)


Time Frame: Three Classes


Overview: After reading chapters 16 - 21 students watch the corresponding parts of the TKAM film keeping notes on changes the film makes from the chapters. After students will consider why the changes were made, and how those changes affected the story. Finally, each group will present their findings to the class.




Contrasting the Trial to the Novel (lessons)


Contrasting the Trial (graphic organizer)


[and watch TKAM movie up until Jem and Scout leave the Halloween pageant]


Lesson Title: Our Longest Journey




Our Longest Journey (Ch 28 lesson)



Lesson Title: Stab! See! Sin!



Stab! See! Sin! (Lesson plan / final chapter)


TKAM AF and other materials