Tech-erentiated Assessment Projects for To Kill a Mockingbird

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.

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2 thoughts on “Tech-erentiated Assessment Projects for To Kill a Mockingbird

  1. Paul Franzetti says:

    my tic tac toe project:To Kill a Mocking bird is still relevant today due to the themes of the book. Themes such as good and evil, social inequality, racism, bravery, and the law. Just like in the book with good and evil such as Tom Robinson, the Ewells and the Radleys, there is good and evil in our society with criminals, and people who have foundations , charities and people who donate a lot of money. There is a lot of social inequality. There are the poor such as the Ewells and Radleys, and the people who are a little more rich such as the Finch’s. There is plenty of racism in the book as well as in real life. Tom Robinson is discriminated against heavily in his trial when he is eventually murdered. We discriminate against African americans, Hispanics, muslims, in our everyday lives. We make jokes towards them without even realizing it every day. Bravery would also be a part of it. Boo Radley was brave for coming out of his hiding spot toward end the end of the book. Dill was brave by taking a chance and sneaking away from his parents to be with Scout and Jem. We are brave in our lives. We take chances that we aren’t sure about that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. The law is also a theme. When Tom Robinson is accused, charged, and eventually killed because of rape, when Bob Ewell is killed and Jem is accused. We hear about the law every day. Whether it is hearing about an arrest, a release, or an escape from prison. Whatever it may be about the law. So there are many themes about the book that are also involved in are everyday lives from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed.

  2. Sydney says:

    The novel To Kill a Mockingbird relates to today’s society because the primary theme of the book, racism, still exists today. Also, it is a coming of age story, illustrating a girl’s growing understanding of the real world, and that there are still “small town” mentalities which influence people’s behaviors.
    In To Kill a Mockingbird, which is pre-civil rights movement in the south, we see racism in its most ugly form. Tom Robinson, an African American who is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman, is unfairly sentenced to death because it is his word against a white person’s. Unfortunately, racial discrimination is still seen today. For example, in 2012, 17 year old Trayvon Martin of Florida was killed in a white neighborhood for wearing a “hoodie” and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The white man who shot Treyvon is protected under the Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Like in TKAM, we see a white man escaping punishment after criminal treatment of a black man.
    In the beginning of the novel, Scout is a carefree girl who makes up silly plays with her brother for fun. By the end of the story, Scout understands the injustice of Tom Robinson, the society of Maycomb, and why Boo Radley chooses to stay in his house. Scout gets upset when everybody makes fun of her dad and her family for the choices Atticus makes in defending Tom Robinson. Also, Scout has a mature revelation about why Arthur Radley stays inside to escape Maycomb’s discriminating ways. Scout learns that Maycomb is a harsh town and there is a specific treatment of African Americans. All young girls like Scout lose their innocence and grow up in order to fully understand life.
    Another thing we see in TKAM is the society of a small town. In every small town people know each other’s business. Word travels fast, so all citizens feel pressured to act a certain way. We see hypocrisy in the sense of saying you are against racial prejudice and discrimination, but not doing anything about it, even today. Although TKAM is set in a small town, this represents human nature regardless of where people are located.
    TKAM is such a powerful novel because it discusses so many controversial and important topics that are still relevant. Even though we have come a long way in the sense of racial discrimination with regard to our first African American president, we still see racial profiling such as Trayvon Martin. Scout’s understanding of the world as she grows up happens to everyone, but yet the ideas of what we understand are still the same. For example, having to act a certain way to please society, and behaving differently at home than in town, or public. Although this novel is focused on a small town, it teaches lessons that are relevant to the whole world.

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