When I first posted about the 50th anniversary celebration for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, I received many positive responses from people who had read the book (some recently, some ages ago) and had felt a great impact.
One blogging friend, Constance at Perfect Retort, told me that her niece’s 7th Grade English class recently completed a To Kill a Mockingbird unit, and that the teacher had a wonderfully creative way of encouraging the students to see Maycomb and the trial through the eyes of various characters.
Linda teaches at an independent school for girls. Please welcome her as she shares a peek at the grand finale for the unit … I think it’s brilliant!:
Each girl came dressed as a character from Maycomb and answered a few questions as her character would answer them. Some of the questions were:
- What did you think of the jury’s decision in Tom Robinson’s trial? Did you think it was a fair trial? Why or why not?
- What was your reaction to the death of Bob Ewell? Why?
- Do you think there is hope that the citizens of Maycomb will someday overcome their racism? Why or why not?
My goal in asking these questions to the various citizens of Maycomb was to give members of the community a voice who do not have much of a chance to express their views in the novel. For instance, I wanted the girls to hear what Calpurnia, Reverend Sykes, and Mr. Dolphus Raymond, to name a few, had to say about Tom Robinson’s trial and the racism in their community.
We called our event a Maycomb Social because the second part of the activity involved bringing a “gift” for some other character in Maycomb (the girls drew names for this part).
For instance, Jem Finch brought Reverend Sykes a new Bible, Dill brought Jem a football, Aunt Alexandra gave Miss Maudie her special recipe for charlotte, etc.
The girls had to think about what gift would be especially fitting for that character. The gift giving added to the fun for the girls and helped develop a sense of community both in our classroom and in the town of Maycomb.
I imagine that next year’s 7th graders have heard about this event and are already looking forward to their opportunity to participate as characters from Maycomb.
Thanks so much, Linda! I imagine that getting into a character’s head with both the tough questions you asked and the more upbeat gift selection process was a very fun lesson, and likely one that will stay with your students.