- Students will evaluate characters’ attitudes based on close, critical reading of the text
- Students will explore multiple perspectives on the same topic using text
- Students will understand opposing viewpoints based on text
- Students will connect Mockingbird’s themes to current events and movements
- What can be learned from studying classic texts through multiple perspectives?
- How can classic texts with traditional perspectives be used to understand current social issues?
- Excerpt from To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 12 (specifically the pages describing Lula’s exit). This activity should be done after the reading of Chapter 12; however, only the excerpt is necessary to complete the lesson.
- Readers' notebooks
Although most students would agree that To Kill a Mockingbird explores the brutal injustice of the Jim Crow South in a small town, they do not always realize that the novel has little explicit acknowledgement of the African-American response. While the injustice is clearly perpetrated against African Americans, readers observe the suffering only through the eyes of the white characters. Chapter 12 provides a brief moment where students can see the reaction of one African-American character, Lula. Spending time looking at and understanding Lula’s anger toward Scout and Jem is critical to teaching this novel.
Students will do a close reading of one section of Chapter 12 in To Kill a Mockingbird and explore multiple perspectives in a Visible Thinking strategy called Circle of Viewpoints.
(adverb) showing deep hatred or disapproval
(adverb) feeling or showing anger because of something that is unfair or wrong
(adjective) likely to cause people to argue or disagree
(adjective) having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people
Tier Three—Domain Specific
(adjective + noun) showing many views
Alignment to Common Core State Standards/College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards:
R: 9-10.1-Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
SL: 9-10.1-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.
One way to convey Lula’s feelings, to legitimize her frustrations and create tolerance for her perspective, is to use the Visible Thinking strategy of the Circle of Viewpoints (Richhart) to create “a greater awareness of how others may be thinking or feeling” because it “reinforces that people can and do think differently about the same things” (Richhart, 111). To set up this activity in conjunction with Chapter 12, students will role-play the parts of characters Lula, Calpurnia, Reverend Sykes and Scout. These characters can present the circle in front of the class, or the class can be divided so that every student is engaged in Circle of Viewpoints.
Re-read, out loud, the section where Lula and Calpurnia have their exchange. In a discussion, have students respond to Lula as a character. (Note the intolerant comments made about Lula.)
Individually, have students write down the four assigned roles in their notebooks, and then write down the text that most reflects that character’s feelings about the confrontation. Ask, for example, how does Scout feel in this situation? What text supports this? Students may say, “[Lula] seemed seven feet high,” or “They did not want us here.”
Assign or have students choose roles. Some level of sophistication may be required of a student playing Lula.
Have students get in an actual circle (at the front of the class if you are using one circle or in their small groups if you are having every student participate) and introduce themselves as their characters. Using the text and events as backdrops to formulate their viewpoints, students should begin a discussion of the targeted text. A student playing Lula might say, for example, “Reverend describes me as ‘haughty.’ I don’t believe I am being haughty. If we aren’t allowed to attend the churches of white people, why should they come to ours?” The text is explicitly extracted, but the implications of the text will require students to find nuanced inferences in the text to support their characters' viewpoints.
After the Circle of Viewpoints activity, students should reflect on the activity in their notebooks. Students could answer the following questions about the Circle of Viewpoints activity: How did you feel about Lula before this activity? Did you change your mind about how you feel about Lula? If so, use the text to explain why you feel differently about her. Even if you feel the same about her, can you understand her any better? If you put yourself in Lula’s place (especially if you did not play the part of Lula), can you see why she might react the way she did to Scout and Jem’s presence in First Purchase?
After students write, ask them to discuss their responses as a group. Be sure the conversation includes the perspective of a student who understands Lula’s feelings, or offer it yourself.
Ritchhart, R., Church, M. & Morrison, K. Making Thinking Visible. How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Franciso: Josey-Bass, 2011.