To Kill a Mockingbird

WISELearn Grant Lesson Plan 
Title:  To Kill a MockingbirdAuthor:  Harper Lee
Subject(s):  English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): Grade 9 Total Time:  4-5 weeks

Overview / Description:

In this unit, students will develop their ability to closely read text while studying the theme of taking a stand. During the first half of the unit, students will read a speech and a letter reflecting examples of real people taking a stand. By reading these speeches they will build background knowledge about the module’s overarching theme, engage in a study of the speaker’s perspective, and analyze the craft of forming an argument. In the second half of Unit 1, students will read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and continue to study the theme of taking a stand as it is revealed in the novel. Students will engage in a character study of Atticus by analyzing his actions and words, and what others say about him, to better understand him as a character. This analysis will provide details and evidence for students to use in their argument essay in their next unit. In addition to reading and studying the text, students will view excerpts of the To Kill a Mockingbird film that strongly convey the novel’s themes, and they will analyze how the film remains true to the original text as well as how it veers from the original.

Also, students will continue to study the theme of taking a stand as they finish the novel. They will develop their argument writing skills through scaffolded writing lessons, culminating in a literary analysis essay in which they argue whether or not it made sense, based on Atticus’s character, for him to have taken a stand and defend Tom Robinson.  Finally, having finished the novel, students will return to key quotes from the novel that relate to the themes of the Golden Rule and Taking a Stand.

Learning goals/objectives:

After completing this activity, students should be able to . . . 

·        analyze figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

·        analyze how difference in points of view between characters and audience create effects in writing.

·        analyze how different structures impact meaning and style of a text.

·        analyze how specific dialogue or incidents in a plot propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

·        analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.

·        analyze the connections between modern fiction and myths, traditional stories, or religious works (themes, patterns of events, character types).

·        analyze the development of a theme or central idea throughout the text (including its relationship to supporting ideas).

·        analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production follows the text or script of the same literary text.

·        analyze the extent to which a filmed version of a story stays faithful to or departs from the text, evaluating the choices made by actors or directors.

·        analyze the impact of word choice on meaning and tone (analogies or allusions).

·       analyze the structure of a specific paragraph in a text (including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept).

·       cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

·        compare and contrast the structure of multiple texts.

·        determine an author’s point of view or purpose in informational text.

·        determine figurative and connotative meanings of words and phrases as they are used in a text including analogies or allusions to other texts.

·        determine the meaning of words and phrases in literary text (figurative, connotative, and technical meanings).

·        determine the theme or central ideas of an informational text.

·        effectively engage in discussions with diverse partners about ninth-grade topics, texts, and issues

·        evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different media to present an idea.

·        evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text (assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims).

·        evaluate the choices made by the director or actors in presenting an interpretation of a script.

·        identify the argument and specific claims in a text.

·        objectively summarize informational text.

·        objectively summarize literary text

·        use a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words or phrases.

Workplace Readiness Skill: 

 X    Social Skills  X  Communication 
  X  Teamwork      X    Critical Thinking
  X  Attitude and Initiative    Planning and Organization
   Professionalism    Media Etiquette

Content Standards:  

R1.  Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

R2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

R3.  Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme

R7.  Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment

RI 1.  Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI 4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone

RI 5.  Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text

RL 1.  Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

W10.  Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.


Explanations of and directions for all to of the activities (Module 2A & B) can be found on EngageNY at

To Kill a Mockingbird Student Handout

To Kill a Mockingbird Literary Circle

I Have You Have Vocab Activity

Learning Activities:

WHO (T=Teacher Focus Lesson; WG=Whole Group\; SM=Small Group; I=Independent)

Learning Activity Task                                                WHO is responsible
for this step?
Approximate time
for task
All learning activities are found in the student packet.

Day 1:  Take a Stand Frayer Model, Power Point on 

Great Depression, Explain literary circles

T, SM45 min.

Day 2: Shirley Chisholm letter and close

 reading activities, Ch. 1 Mockingbird

T, SM84 min.

Day 3:  "Ain't I a Woman" Close Reading, 

Ch. 2 Mockingbird

T, I, SM84 min.

Day 4:  Ch. 2 Mockingbird reread, read Ch. 4,

 close reading activities and vocab

T,WG, SM, I84 min.

 Day 5:  Quotes gallery walk, Read

Ch. 4 Mockingbird, close reading and vocabulary

WG, SM84 min.

 Day 6:  Karen Armstrong TED talk,

Ch. 5 Mockingbird, close reading and vocabulary

 WG, SG, I84 min. 

 Day 7: Ch. 5 cont, Read Ch. 6-7 Mockingbird, 

close reading and vocabulary

 WG, SM, I 84 min.

 Day 8:  Read Ch. 8 Mockingbird, "Those Winter Sundays," close reading and vocabulary

 WG, SM, I 84 min.

 Day 9:  Ch. 9 Mockingbird, close reading and vocabulary,


  WG, SM, I 84 min.

 Day 10:  Ch. 10 Mockingbird, World Café activity

Prejudice Picture gallery walk, evidence gathering and vocabulary

 T, WG, SM, I 84 min.
 Day 11:  Ch. 11 Mockingbird, close reading, plot map, "Solitude", allusion  T, WG, SM, I 84 min.
 Day 12: Ch. 12-13 Mockingbird, close reading and vocabulary, Watch part of film version, lit circle 8-11 T, WG 84 min.
 Day 13:  Ch. 14-15 Mockingbird, close reading and vocabulary activity "I Have, You Have," Notecatcher activity T, WG, SM 84 min.

 Day 14:  Ch. 16-17 Mockingbird, close reading and vocabulary,

Perspectives activity

  SM, I 84 min.
 Day 15 & 16:  Literary Circle 12-17, Ch. 18-19 & 20-22 Mockingbird, evidence gathering, taking a stand, point of view, vocabulary and word choice activity  T, WG, SM, I 84 min.
 Day 17 & 18:  Read Ch. 23-24 To Kill a Mockingbird, activities in tomorrow's lesson, lit circle 17-22 I 84 min.
 Day 19: Read Ch. 25-27 Mockingbird, lit circle 23-24, text dependent questions for ch. 22-26, sentence strip activity, integrity Frayer model T, WG, SM, I 84 min.
 Day 20:  Ch. 28-29 Mockingbird, close reading and vocabulary  SM, I 84 min.
 Day 21:  Ch. 30-31 Mockingbird T 84 min.
 Day 22:  lit circle 25-31, Final test I 84 min.


To Kill a Mockingbird Student Packet

To Kill A Mockingbird Literary Circle

Final Test

Wrap-Up: The summative assessment is the final exam for To Kill a Mockingbird: however, this unit leads into the next unit's summative assessment (an argument essay based on evidence from To Kill a Mockingbird.) 

Extension Activity (for intervention or enrichment):

Creative Common License: 


Return to top