Once your class has finished Ch. 22 of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, take a break from the story and use this 45-minute non-fiction lesson to draw compelling parallels between the conviction of Tom Robinson and the real-life injustice faced by the nine teens known as the “Scottsboro Boys.”
In the early 1930s, these nine African-American teens were rounded up, arrested, and convicted on incredibly shaky “evidence” that would be thrown out of court today. Your students will follow the twisted path that led to the miscarriage of justice and then compare the treatment of these innocent young men to Tom Robinson, victims of the WW2 holocaust, and even their own treatment of each other in today’s high school environment.
This non-fiction lesson includes access to a well-written, high-interest article from the New York Times book review section and an attractively designed worksheet that will require students to dig back into the article, Lee’s novel, and their own minds to find the answers.
After students have completed the article and worksheet (either in teams of two or as a solo assignment), pull the class back together and discuss/debate students’ answers to the questions. (A detailed answer key is included to help you easily grade papers and guide the class discussion.) Many of the text-based questions are open-ended, meaning lots of great discussion will come about in the debriefing.
This lesson adds a rich layer of understanding as students head into the final chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird.
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