Analyzing Themes: The Golden Rule and Taking a Stand (Chapters 16-17) | EL Education Curriculum

You are here

ELA 2012 G8:M2A:U2:L3

Analyzing Themes: The Golden Rule and Taking a Stand (Chapters 16-17)

You are here:

Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze the development of a theme or central idea throughout the text (including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot). (RL.8.2)

Supporting Targets

  • I can analyze how the themes of the Golden Rule and taking a stand are developed in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Structured notes for Chapters 16 and 17 (from homework)
  • Analyzing Themes Note-catcher
  • Exit ticket


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A.  Engaging the Reader: Connecting Vocabulary to Atticus's Character (4 minutes)

B.  Review Learning Target (1 minute)

2.  Work Time

A.  Analyzing Theme: The Golden Rule (20 minutes)

B.  Analyzing Theme: Taking a Stand (19 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A.  Preview Homework (1 minute)

4.  Homework

A. Complete a first read of Chapter 18 with structured notes.

  • In this lesson, students will read a portion of Chapter 16 that they did not read for homework. The scene involves Atticus's conversation with Jem and Scout about the angry mob outside the jail the night before. Students will discuss a key quote from the reading and relate it to the Golden Rule.
  • Students will then view and discuss the Little Rock Nine photograph that they viewed in Unit 1, Lesson 1 in relation to the angry mob scene. This part of the lesson develops the students' continuing understanding of the module's theme of taking a stand by providing an opportunity for students to discuss the difference in taking an informed stand and taking an ignorant stand. This comparison also examines taking a stand as driven by the Golden Rule, as opposed to a stand driven by prejudice.
  • In advance: Decide on Discussion Appointment partners.
  • Post: Learning target.


formidable (213), amiably (226), acrimonious (229), benignly (230), genially (234)


  • To Kill a Mockingbird (book; one per student)
  • Analyzing Themes Note-catcher (one per student)
  • Analyzing Themes Note-catcher (for Teacher Reference)
  • Document camera
  • Little Rock Nine photograph, which may be found on the National Park Service's Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site page, at (one for display)
  • Exit ticket (one per student)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird Structured Notes graphic organizer, Chapter 18 (one per student)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird Supported Structured Notes graphic organizer, Chapter 18 (optional; for students needing additional support)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader: Connecting Vocabulary to Atticus's Character (4 minutes)

  • Have students to take out their structured notes homework and find their new Discussion Appointment partner to compare the definitions they each came up with for the vocabulary words. Next, have the students discuss which vocabulary words from the homework they would use to describe Atticus's character and why. Cold call several pairs to share their thinking.
  • Use of Discussion Partners allows for total participation of students. It encourages critical thinking, collaboration, and social construction of knowledge. It also helps students practice their speaking and listening skills

B. Review Learning Target (1 minute)

  • Read aloud the learning target and share with students that today they will study two more examples from the novel that relate to the themes of the Golden Rule and taking a stand.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Analyzing Perspective: Scout and the Reader in Chapter 15 (15 minutes)

  • Remind students that for homework they read only part of Chapter 16. Today they are going to study an earlier part of the chapter. Invite them to turn to page 210 in their copies of To Kill a Mockingbird. Begin with: "I thought Mr. Cunningham was a friend of ours." Have students read along silently in their heads as you read aloud to the top of page 211, ending with: "I don't want either of you bearing a grudge about this thing no matter what happens."
  • Invite students to turn and talk to their partner to share the gist of this excerpt. Cold call student pairs to share their understanding of the gist.
  • Distribute the Analyzing Themes Note-catcher and read aloud the directions. Explain to students that they are going to complete only Part A of the Note-catcher now. Give them about 8 minutes to complete the questions in Part A, circulating and supporting as necessary. See the Analyzing Themes Note-catcher (for Teacher Reference) for help as you support students.
  • Next, invite students to temporarily find a different discussion partner to share the answers to the questions in Part A. Explain that they should take turns sharing answers and that they may add or revise their answers during this time.
  • Invite students to return to their original discussion partner and debrief any additions or revisions they may have made based on their sharing with a different partner.
  • Some students may benefit from having access to "hint cards": small slips of paper or index cards that they turn over for hints about how/where to find the answers to text-dependent questions. For example, a hint card might say: "Check back in the third paragraph on page 157."
  • Consider partnering ELLs who speak the same home language when discussion of complex content is required. This can allow students to have more meaningful discussions and clarify points in their native language.

B. Analyzing Theme: Taking a Stand (19 minutes)

  • Use a document camera (or other available technology) to display the Little Rock Nine photograph. Remind students that they first saw this photograph in Unit 1, Lesson 1, when they looked at other photographs in which people took a stand. Ask:

*   "What made this photograph different from the other ones we looked at?"

  • Cold call several students to answer. Ideally they will remember that this was an example of taking a stand in a hurtful way. Ask:

*   "Can you draw any connections between this photograph and the angry mob scene you envisioned when you read that part of the novel?"

  • Invite students to turn and talk to their partner; cold call several pairs to answer.
  • Draw students' attention to Part B of the Analyzing Themes Note-catcher and have them complete this second part with their partner. Remind them to use the strongest details from the text to answer the questions. Circulate and support students, using the Analyzing Themes Note-catcher (for Teacher Reference) as a guide.
  • Next, invite students to find a third discussion partner to share responses to Part B of the Note-catcher. Remind them to take turns sharing and that they should add or revise their answers based on their conversation.
  • Debrief with students by asking:

*   "Both Atticus and Mr. Cunningham took a stand. When is taking a stand a positive action?"

  • Cold call students to answer. Be sure students understand that when taking a stand is driven by the Golden Rule, it's positive. Ask:

*   When is taking a stand a negative action?"

  • Be sure students understand that it is negative when it is driven by self-interest.
  • Distribute the exit ticket and have students respond independently. Collect the exit tickets to formatively assess their understanding of the analyzing themes in the novel.
  • Using exit tickets allows you to quickly check for understanding of the learning target so that instruction can be adjusted or tailored to students' needs before the next lesson.

Closing & Assessments


A. Preview Homework (1 minute)

Distribute the To Kill a Mockingbird Structured Notes, Chapter 18 or To Kill a Mockingbird Supported Structured Notes, Chapter 18. Preview the homework.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Complete a first read of Chapter 18 with structured notes. Answer the focus question:

*   "Why do you think Atticus speaks so formally to Mayella during her testimony? What is your impression of Atticus based on Lee's descriptions during Mayella's testimony? Use the strongest evidence from the novel to explain your answer."


Note: The next lesson is the Mid-Unit 2 Assessment. This assessment involves showing a portion of the film for a text to film comparison. Be sure to have the necessary technology ready to show the film selection.

  • Provide struggling learners with the supported structured notes for additional scaffolding as they read the novel.

Get updates about our new K-5 curriculum as new materials and tools debut.

Sign Up