By Jen Lindsay
It’s that time of year again! Spring is upon us and the eighth graders head into the final stretch in language arts as they begin Harper Lee’s timeless novel of courage, respect and hope. As an introduction to the unit, students study the 1930s, learning about that decade’s advances in science and technology, fads and fashion, people and places, literature and more. Technology integration this year will include research and the opportunity to use a WIKI in class. If time permits, we will also be creating digital scrapbooks of the characters.
TKM, as we lovingly refer to it, follows several years in the life of Scout and Jem Finch, children who, while living in racially charged Alabama, learn valuable life lessons about the equality of all people. Two independent stories converge as Scout and Jem learn about justice and responsibility through their interest in the elusive and misunderstood Boo Radley, and the mistreated Tom Robinson.
Themes we will study include courage, justice, race and family. Students will complete a thesis paper, learning the steps of how to write one as we go. One white board in Mrs. Lindsay’s classroom will be used as a “community” board where students will share their favorite quotes from the book and ask their classmates for others. Some famous words from the novel include:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
“I wanted you to see what real courage is….when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
After reading the novel, students will enjoy the movie starring Gregory Peck. This classic version won numerous awards and captures the heart of what To Kill a Mockingbird is all about.
If you have never read this wonderful book, consider reading it with your eighth grader! If you read it long ago, please read it again—you’ll be glad that you did!