Open Source Template Tuesday: Fun and Games with To Kill a Mockingbird

It’s Open Source Template Tuesday! Time to change the game on one of the most beloved texts in American literature…

OpenSource

Hi! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! I’m John. And I’m the author of EDrenaline Rush: Game-Changing Student Engagement Inspired by Theme Parks, Mud Runs, and Escape Rooms, a new book from Dave Burgess Consulting. I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to share it with the world! And I truly believe that enthusiasm is infectious — so I love sharing lesson plans, classroom activity walkthroughs, and open source slideshow templates on this site whenever I get the chance.

Because great pedagogy isn’t relegated to any particular subject area. And we don’t teach content. We teach people.

I have a bunch of templates available on this site, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to adapt them to suit the unique needs of your classroom! Regardless of age, content area, or skill level — it is my sincere belief that, in the hands of a great teacher (that’s YOU!), a creative teaching tool or technique can be a total game-changer for any classroom.

So here’s where you come in!

Each week here on the blog, we celebrate OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATE TUESDAY in an effort to help readers get a clearer sense of how adapting shared templates from this site can be super helpful in saving teachers time, effort, and frustration.

Here’s how it works:

    1. For each OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATE TUESDAY, I’ll feature a guest blog from a fellow teacher who’s adapted one of the resources available on this site and used it to change the game in their classroom! I’ll also post an original copy of the template that inspired their lesson so you can see its life cycle in action.
    2. We’ll also feature a guest blog entry from the teacher who adapted each template in their classroom. This is their chance to talk about the tweaks, adjustments, and modifications that they decided to make to the original resource in order to help it be a neater fit in their classroom. It might also help inspire you to take their template (or the original) for a spin in your school! Click any of the links below or check out their Twitter handle to connect further!
    3. In the spirit of OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATES, everything that you’ll see in one of these guest blogs is designed to be shared, customized, and adapted for use in your classroom! Steel sharpens steel, right? And by paying it forward to fellow educators around the globe, the rising tide of #EDrenaline can truly lift all ships — inspiring untold ripple effects of teacher creativity and student engagement around the globe.

This week’s OPEN SOURCE TEMPLATE TUESDAY:

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The Original Resource:
#QRBreakIN

Today’s Guest Blogger:

Alison Lewis (@MissLewisEng), 9th grade English teacher & 7th grade Innovation teacher at Tohickon Middle School

Here’s the Story…

The first novel my 9th graders read is To Kill a Mockingbird, which, I will admit, can be dense and a challenge. This past school year, I wanted to try to focus on the bigger ideas and not the nit-picky, especially in the opening chapters. With my one class, I decided to chunk the reading to force myself and the kids to look at the larger picture. When it came time to discuss, I focused on a few key concepts, and I gave my students a variety of ways to analyze what they had read.

I started with the Monopoly board template that I found on John Meehan’s Twitter. Focusing on Scout’s neighborhood was perfect for this activity, since the small-town mentality is so crucial to our understanding of the characters. Thus, Maycombopoly was born.

I made six game boards and had my students in groups of 4-5. Since it was still the beginning of the year, I wanted them to collaborate and converse. So each team raced against each other. 

The best suggestion I can offer when developing/adapting a game board is this: before designing the game, determine what skills or concepts you want the students to explore and decide how best to assess that information, and then adapt the template accordingly. I knew I wanted to focus on characterization, so I looked at the types of activities I could have my students complete with that goal in mind. I also wanted to keep a balance with technology and pencil and paper.

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I used Microsoft Forms for a short answer response about empathy, so students could see how Scout begins to carry over her father’s advice on walking in another’s shoes. I used sketching for students to analyze Boo Radley’s intentions by having them track and sketch the gifts left in the tree for the kids. Quizziz helped me see their reading comprehension and gave me my focal points for direct instruction. Students used graphic organizers to track evolving character foils and analyze the town’s “help all” mentality. They also watched a video on Edpuzzle about the Jim Crow Era to understand the upcoming conflict between the Finch family and the rest of the town. Finally, they went to FlipGrid to explain their thoughts on Arthur “Boo” Radley; despite the rumors flying around town, there is evidence that this man is not the monster people say he is, and I ask my students to develop an opinion on whether he is a “malevolent phantom” or a benevolent hermit. They must use evidence from the text to support their answer.

I had never done something like this before, and some of the most positive outcomes of this experience were the student collaboration and conversations circling their tables, the analyses, and the engagement. This activity encouraged my students to work together, and I found they were more confident in their answers since they were able to discuss their ideas before submitting a final response. Because of this, the students were also more willing to ask questions. Finally, the students were on-task and engaged with one another which allowed questions and discussions to flow more freely.

Hi all. John here. Thanks so much for sharing this resource, Alison! To Kill a Mockingbird has long been a staple of so many high school English courses, and so I’m thrilled to see teachers taking creative steps to help students better engage with the text. Way to go! Creativity inspires creativity. And anything that helps our students feel more confident engaging in our course curriculum is a step in the right direction for teachers all around the world. As a bonus in the same spirit of open source template sharing, I created a class escape room for To Kill a Mockingbird that’s designed for Breakout EDU. Happy lesson planning!

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, Laura, a high school music teacher and fellow graduate of The Catholic University of America, and a giant-sized Maine Coon cat named Jack.

2 thoughts

  1. What a nice way to check the reading of the novel! I’m new to all this and I’d be happy to,try it in class. CAn we download the boardgame somewhere?
    Thanks in advance for the answer.
    Laure from France

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