Week 6

This week we began to read “The Giver”. This book is by Lois Lowry, and was written in 1993. “The Giver” is a great discussion book because it raises questions about society and government. Would you rather live in a peaceful world where your life is decided for you, or would you rather live in a world where chaos and pain exist in everyday life, but you have the freedom to make your own choice?


In the book, precision of words is very important. To say “starving” instead of “hungry” is an exaggeration that will not be tolerated. We played a game of “Password” where it is very important to say the correct word. One member of each of the two teams tries to get their teammates to guess a word given to them on a card. The catch? The team leaders only get one word to help their teammates. Especially difficult was the word “employed”.


Another important aspect of “The Giver”, is the moment where all 12 year old members of the community are given an assignment chosen for them by the Elders of the community. We staged our own mock “ceremony” where classmates decided the fate of an individual, and then compared this decision to what the individual foresaw for themselves. Some decisions aligned nicely, others were way off! (I’m supposed to be an acrobat?) :)

Below are several of the discussion questions we considered.

1) What do you think of the sharing of feelings around the table? Do you think it’s beneficial?

2) What are the benefits of a committee deciding your assignment?

3) What do you think about the family units?

4) Precision of speech: Is this good or is it overboard?

5) Does your family have any rituals or traditions associated with birthdays or turning a specific age?

Week 5!

This was such a fun week. We watched the movie version of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Most of the students agreed that the movie was very well cast, but that it was impossible to fully capture the book in 2 hours. However, it was possible to devour two bags of skittles during the 2 hour movie!

This ends our study of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Below is a copy of the “Maycomb Tribune” that we put together last week.

Maycomb Tribune

Week 4!

We had a great week 4! Now that everyone has finished the book we were able to discuss  aspects of “To Kill a Mockingbird”as a whole.

First we played a a hilarious game of Mad Gab.

We watched this parody video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mreGrh_tVDQ Studio C is a sketch comedy show, and this one was perfect to watch with “To Kill a Mockingbird”. As a dog person, I found it especially funny. :)

Our creative writing time this week was spent on writing articles for “The Maycomb Tribune”. Everyone was very creative with their articles, and I can’t wait to share the newspaper next week.


Below is a list of questions that we discussed:

1)      What do you think of Mayella Ewell? Is she a victim or instigator?


2)      What do you think of Mr. Raymond? What do you think of his philosophy on whiskey? (pg 228)


3)      Why do you think Atticus says cheating on a colored man is 10 times worse than cheating on a white man (pg 229)


4)      Why do you think “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a classic? Or is it? Do you think it is still relevant today?


5)      “Your father’s a passing” Why did they stand? What did it mean?


6)      Why does Maycomb send all the food to the finches? (Pig Knuckles? Really!)


7)      Miss Maudie tells Jem Maycomb did rally around Atticus. Do you agree? Could they have done more?


8)      What do you think of the part about why women weren’t allowed on the jury? (pg 252).


9)      Jem and Scout have a discussion about the different kinds of people in the world. Do you think there are just “folk”, like Scout, or do you think that there are different types of people like Jem? Does education matter that much? (pg 259)


10)  Jem believes that Boo Radley wants to stay inside (pg 259). Why is that


11)  Tom Robinson was running away when he was shot and killed. Why do you think he ran? Should he have stayed? What would you have done?


12)  The Maycomb women believe that being a lady is very important. How do you deal with a situation differently than the men? Why do you think being a lady is so important to them?


13)  What do you think of Boo Radley now that we’ve met him? Why did he shut himself up again?


14)  Did the ending satisfy you? Did it surprise you?


15)  Atticus tries to get Mayella Ewell to admit that she is lying. What do you think would have happened if she had? Would Tom have still been found guilty?


16)  Is this book still relevant?


17)  What is the one thing you will take away from this book? Did you learn anything? How will you remember it?

Week 3!

Important Note: We voted to finish “To Kill a Mockingbird” THIS week. This allows the following week to be devoted entirely to essay writing. We will also watch the entire movie adaptation the next week. Please remember to finish your reading!


Happy Banned Books Week! This is the week that we celebrate books that have been banned all over the country… including “To Kill a Mockingbird!” Many famous books have been banned: Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Lord of the Rings, Where the Wild Things are… most of the student’s in the class had read at least a few!

But on to the banned book we are currently reading. One of the big topics of discussion was the differences between the black and white churches. We discussed differences in the preachers, congregations, and buildings. We also talked about why several of the African American congregation did not want Jem or Scout there!

Here are some other points that we considered:


1) What did you think of the scene where Scout talks to the Maycomb men? Why did they react that way? How would they have reacted differently if she was not there?

2) What did you think of the courtroom scene? How is Atticus on the stand? What do you think of Mr. Ewell? What is your prediction for the outcome of the trial?

3) At one point in the novel, Atticus says “Mr. Cunningham’s basically a good man, he just has his blind spots.” What are some blind spots of the other characters?

4) Why does Calpurnia now call Jem, “Mister Jem”? Why does she talk differently at her church? Have you ever acted differently because of the people you are with?

We also had a creative writing assignment this week. In chapter 17 (page 149 in my book!) the “Caste” system of Maycomb is described. Scout talks about how “No Crawford Minds His Own Business,” “Every Third Merriweather is Morbid,” ‘The Truth is not in the Delafields, and “All the Bufords walk like that”. Each student chose one of these dictas to write about. We had some very funny results!

Looking forward to next week! (Especially because we don’t have to be afraid of any spoilers!)


Week 2!

This week in class we watched a video that discussed Harper Lee’s early life. The entire documentary is more than an hour, but definitely worth a watch! It is called “Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird.” The part that I found especially fascinating was when I found out that several of Harper Lee’s closest friends gave her a monetary gift, telling her to quit her job for one year, so that she could write whatever she pleased! This generous gift gave us the gift of “To Kill a Mockingbird”!

We also tried “Lane Cake”, which is a southern specialty made famous by it’s mentions in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I am including the recipe below. We also drank homemade lemonade!

We discussed chapters 7 to 11. Below are some of the questions we considered:

*”To Kill a Mockingbird” was banned from many schools for it’s language (specifically the n word), and because of the lack of positive authority figures in the books. Most of the students in the class said that the language offered authenticity to the time, and also showed the discrimination toward negroes. We also discussed the fact that the Finch family has a strong role model in their father, and the reader understands that he is respected.

*We also discussed Mrs. Dubose and her addiction problem. (Read Atticus’s statement on page 128).

*How was Atticus portrayed after killing the mad dog?

*What is the impact of the book as you see injustice through the eyes of a child?

Below is the recipe for the Lane Cake!









Week 1

Week One: Finished!

This week was the very first week of “Noteworthy Literature”. We’ve just started Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and already had quite a bit of material to discuss! We considered the questions below:

1) How does the author use the first few paragraphs to draw you in and make you keep reading?

2) What do you think of the way Harper Lee writes from the point of view of a young child? How do you think this book would be different if expressed by an adult?

3) What do you think of Atticus’s explanation that some people don’t have to follow the law. Do you agree? Are there examples in society today? (pg 33-34).

4) Did you believe far-fetched stories when you were younger like Scout, Dill, and Jem believe about Boo Radley? What were some of your exploits?

5) What do you think about the line, “the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of… your father.” (pg 50).

As a class we also made some predictions about Boo Radley and where the novel is heading. (Notice how the very first paragraph in the novel offers some clues).

We also talked briefly about Harper Lee. She grew up in a southern town, and her father was a lawyer. To Kill a Mockingbird was the only book she published, despite it’s success.

For some creative writing exercises we all spent time describing our own towns. Discoveries: Dublin is full of round-abouts and Mom-and-Pop shops. Marysville is excited over the arrival of a Meijer, and Ohio is primarily covered in corn!

We also wrote notes to Boo Radley, trying to convince him to come out of the Radley Place. In Lee’s novel, Jem and Dill offered to buy Boo ice-cream and promised not to hurt him. In class we offered him hot apple pie, a game of football, and told him he just needed to come out and see the sun!