This spring my eighth grade students read To Kill a Mockingbird. As an assessment of their reading and understanding I gave my students a Think Tac Toe board with nine different technology based, differentiated project choices. Hence the word “tech-erentiated.” The idea behind the assignment is that students complete any three assessment projects as long as they make a tic-tac-toe on the board.
Below is the assignment and rubric. Also included is a blog post written by one of my students on the relevance of reading To Kill a Mockingbird today.
The novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an old story that relates to modern times in many ways. In the story, Scout is a growing child who is finding her place in the world. She is constantly reminded that she is a “lady” and that women don’t wear overalls or play football. She is also scolded by her Aunt Alexandra for not acting like a women. Her role as a Finch in the town of Maycomb is to become married to a respectable man and to raise children to be kind and polite people. In modern times, many of these expectations still apply. Most fathers and mothers want their daughter to grow up, marry, and have children so that they can carry on the family name. The parents also want to make sure that their child is appealing to others in the community, even if the child doesn’t want wear skirts and dresses. The expectation of girls has declined from the 1930s, but it is still there. Most families simply want their daughter be a mother when they are older.
Racism of African Americans is another example of how the novel relates to real life. In the 1930s, blacks were treated with extreme disrespect and hatred. Like in the story, blacks were blamed for crimes that they didn’t commit, and also scolded for actions they didn’t do. Many African American women were nannies or housekeepers, while the men were hard laborers who worked out on the fields. After the government put an end to discrimination, segregation, and hatred towards blacks, most of the racism and cruelty died down. But even today, with a black president in office, white Americans still treat African Americans in ways they shouldn’t be treated. One example would include stereotyping, where a white person judges a black person just by the color of their skin. Another would include bullying in schools for being different than the majority of the students.
In the novel, Dill is ignored by his parents. Even though Dill is given the toys that he desires, his parents never want to spend time with him. Because of this, Dill runs away to the Finches, where he knows he can find a friend. In present times, this actually occurs quite frequently. Today, people would call Dill a spoiled brat. Kids his age would envy him for the toys he possesses, but what they don’t understand is that Dill is all alone. Many modern day children also run away from their homes, because they have know one to play with. Even if a child receives all the toys in the world, he would still not have a friend to enjoy his toys with. This happens mostly to children with no brothers or sisters, but it can happen to anyone.
Jem faces the challenges of being an adolescent as he grows older. During the novel, Jem starts to play football, read magazines, and stay away from Scout more and more often. Jem starts to show more appreciation for becoming a lawyer and analyzes the Tom Robinson rape case with intensive concentration. In modern times, boys go through the same kinds of phases; they become more mature and look to their future more than when they were children. Jem and boys of the 21st century would agree that hanging out with your little sister is embarrassing and that football is the best sport to ever be invented. They also both look to their future careers, be it a lawyer, doctor, or even scientist. Jem and modern day boys are more similar than most would imagine.