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A lesson on “To Kill A Mockingbird”


Language Arts  


8, 9  

Title – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
By – Mat Campione
Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – Grades 8/9

This book creates a learning environment for the grade 9 level of reading. Included in this book are a lot of racial issues and sexual issues. To teach lessons throughout the book, the teacher must be prepared to deal with the thoughts of a society that is different than what we are used to right now.

In order to begin the book:
Make a list of 10 vocabulary words that will be used as a guide throughout the book. Here are some examples:
The following words are used throughout the story and help the children understand the meaning of the book.

terrain, stealthy, predilection, curiosity, mutilated, gouge, repertoire, teemed, concession, nocturnal, vapid, eccentric, malevolent, assuaged, jagged, secured, expression, assumption, cooperation, scrutiny, disposed, severed, propelling, deem, sufficiently, irrelevant, immaterial, warranted, affirmative, audibly, obscene, speculations, solitary, blissful, irascible, lament, mournfully, mortification, gait, reeling, floundering, pinioned, staccato, distraction, garments, despised, untrammeled, Negroes

Lesson 1:
Create a Handout that can be used throughout the book. Typical questions that can be used for this handout could include:
1. Describe the setting. What is the Radley place like? Describe the front yard, back of the house and surrounding yards.
2. Compare the Ewells’ home with the Negroes’ cabins nearby.
3. In what ways does Jem mature through the story?
4. Compare the characters of Miss Maudie and Miss Alexandra.
5. What incidents before Halloween night give an indication of Boo Radley’s interest in and friendliness toward the children?
6. What episodes reveal various meanings of courage to Scout and Jem?
7. How is the mockingbird theme used to unite the two plot elements of the Radley mystery and the Robinson trial?
8. Discuss the ways in which Scout learns to value individuals by “climbing into their skins” for a while.
9. How does the use of Scout as narrator as to the impact of the novel?
10. In what ways are the prejudiced whites’ attitudes toward blacks refuted by the author?
11. What are the parallels between the lives and writings of Harper Lee and Truman Capote?
12. How the mockingbird used similarly in Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Wait Whitman’s poem “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”? (You might need to obtain a copy of this poem so the students can answer this question…It is also a very good ending to the book)

I do have answers to the preceding questions. If you would like them please email me at: Thank-you.

Also in this lesson you can inform the students of the word PREJUDICE

Write this word on the board. Have the students try to describe what they think it means and write their answers around the word. Give them the correct meaning of prejudice. take all of their definitions of the word and create a class definition. Put this on a large piece of paper and hang on the wall. You will want to refer to this later.

Lesson 2:
Pass out the packets of questions and begin to explain the depth that you are looking for in the answers. Most questions involve giving examples throughout the book and could take a page or so written to explain the entire question as it pertains to the book.

Read aloud the first chapter of the book. At the end ask them to tell the first chapter back in their own words as their assignment. I have found that one page usually does the job well.

Lesson 3:

Collect the assignment from the last class meeting. Pass out the books. Have students get into groups of 4. In their groups they are going to read the second chapter. While reading picking out vocabulary that they believe they need to look up definitions for. Have them try to find at least 10 words. Each group writes their words on one piece of paper and submits them to you. For the next class meeting…create a word list for the week. Each week create a new word list from the words that they have chosen and from the words that you find on your own and/or from the list in this lesson plan.

Each day they should get into their groups and discuss the chapter from the class meeting before. You may wish to have them read silently during a class meeting.
Summaries work well when reading solo during class or at home for assignments.

Lesson 4:

Create a character List with your class. They need to come up with the list and something about each character. Here is an example:
Atticus Finch: Lawyer in Maycomb, father to Jem and Scout
Jean Louise Finch: Scout, narrator of the story
Jem Finch: Scout’s brother, adventurous, risk-taker
Calpurnia: Negro cook in the Finch household, in charge of raising Jem and Scout.
Dill: Scout’s friend who lives in Mississippi, visits every summer and stays with his aunt Rachael.
Miss Rachael: Dill’s Aunt who lives next door to the Finchs
Miss Dubose: Old woman who can’t do much on her own, Jem goes to her home and reads to her.
Miss Maudie: a gossiper, knows a lot about what goes on in the town of Maycomb.
Arthur Radley: Boo, not very pleasant, doesn’t like people much, doesn’t have a very clean yard.

Have them create a character plot and summary for the next class meeting.

Lesson 5:

Introduce an essay: they are to write an essay about one of the following questions:
1. How does using Scout as the narrator during the novel make an impact on the reader?

2. Does the theme of black and white racism follow truth?

3. Compare the characters of Miss Maudie and Miss Alexandra.

They should begin that in class making sure that they pull examples from the book and can backup what the passages mean.

Lesson 6:

I would suggest quizzes every few chapters to make sure the students don’t get mixed up with the facts. There are a lot of facts in this book. For chapters 1-6 give a quiz on the characters. For chapters 7-10 ask questions. Here is an example of a quiz that I have given:
1. What did Dill and Jem and Scout find in the tree?
2. Why did Jem need to return to get his pants?
3. What did Nathan Radley do to make Jem, Dill and Scout upset?
4. Why did Atticus tell Scout to “walk around in Jem’s skin”?
5. Describe the term “Nigger Lover”.
6. Why is it important not to kill a mockingbird?
7. Why did Uncle Jack spank Scout? Why was it wrong?
8. Describe Atticus’ attitude toward fighting.
9. Why does the conflict between the adults no understanding the kids come up?
10. Who is Jack Finch?

Again if you would like answers to these questions please email me at and please specify what questions you would like answered.

Lesson 7: WRAP-UP

Create your own take home exam. Allow them to use the book and to be careful that the questions are more in depth than they may think. This should wrap up the book. On the take home…make sure that you use the vocabulary words that they have chosen throughout the book when you are asking the questions. This will help them continue to develop their vocabulary skills.

If you have any questions about my lesson plan, please email me at Also if you need answers to any of the questions on here also email me. Thanks, Mat

E-Mail Mat !

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