The Trial Begins

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SWBAT review chapters 14-16 of To Kill a Mockingbird through sharing and discussing their focus questions, followed by whole-group reading of chapter 17.

Big Idea

Order in the classroom: students take a front row as the trial of Tom Robinson begins.

Homework Check

10 minutes


I begin today by checking my students' focus question homework for chapters 14-16 of To Kill a Mockingbird.  This is homework assigned in this lesson and has been an on-going assignment throughout our reading of the text.

Reading Quiz

10 minutes


Once homework has been checked, I instruct my students to clear their desks for the reading quiz on the chapters they were to read for homework.  I have prepared a series of ten questions from the chapters so that I can vary the five I will ask my students from class to class.  That way, I can somewhat circumvent the possibility of the questions (and answers) being passed about from student to student all day.

The questions I have created from chapters 14-16 include:

  • Who does Scout ask Atticus if she could visit?
  • Who says "no" to Scout's request?
  • Who is hiding under Scout's bed?
  • Why does Dill run away?
  • What does Dill say he and Scout should get?
  • Where does Atticus go in the middle of the night?
  • Who does Scout recognize in the mob?
  • Who breaks up the mob?
  • Who is above the jailhouse with a gun during the mob scene?
  • What is unusual about Dolphus Raymond?
  • Where do Scout, Jem, and Dill sit during the trial?

As I mention in previous lessons, the reading quizzes are meant to test whether or not my students are keeping up with the reading I assign them to do on their own, rather than ask them to perform interpretation and analysis. The focus questions my students are creating for each chapter provide us with more open-ended questions that contribute to analytical and interpretive discussions about the text.

Whole Group Review

15 minutes


After the quiz, we will spend a few minutes reviewing whatever answers necessary, as well as allowing for focus question sharing.

I anticipate that my students will have much to say about the mob scene, as well as about the return of Dill.  These are two key scenes about which I am very interested to hear their interpretations, particularly:

  • How is Scout able to inadvertently disband the angry mob?
  • What further do we learn of Dill's family life, and what is inferred by his suggestion, "Scout, let's get us a baby" (163).

Both scenes allow for the exploration of a child's perspective and function in this/a text, which I am eager to hear my students discuss.

Whole Group Reading

35 minutes


We will end the period by beginning chapter 17 as a whole group, which is the first chapter of the trial. In this chapter, my students will hear the testimony of Heck Tate and, as time permits, Bob Ewell. 

I will ask my students to analyze the testimony of each witness as we read together, giving them an opportunity to support whether or not the witness seems a credible witness.  This will be a good opportunity for my students to apply close-reading skills and to work with evidence from the text to support their claims.  By promoting this type of analysis and discussion throughout the trial chapters, I can then lead my students into the application of ethos, pathos, and logos, which is where this week's lessons are headed.

Whatever reading of chapter 17 remains unfinished by the end of the period will be assigned for homework, along with at least one focus question.