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Contextual Learning Portal



  • TitleMockingbirds
  •  /project312_9101/DSC_0173.jpg
  • ThemeCivil Rights
  • Submitted BySarah Connell
  • OrganizationAuburn Middle School
  • Brief DescriptionStudents from neighboring school districts engaged in complex discussions about issues of race and poverty by utilizing an online discussion board. After reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, students developed a plan to meet and construct birdhouses to protect "mockingbirds" and other innocent or defenseless creatures. Students painted quotes from the text about tolerance on their birdhouses to serve as protection/support for fellow classmates whom they sometimes view as defenseless mockingbirds. In addition, students created pottery pieces to place inside their birdhouses to represent the generosity shown by Boo Radley. Students were able to show generosity to their classmates as a means for generating communities of kindness and tolerance.
  • Materials / ResourcesCopies of To Kill a Mockingbird
    Moodle Online Discussion Board
    Birdhouse Building Kits
  • Team membersSarah Connell and Jessica Young
  • Pre-requisite knowledgeGreat Depression, American Literature, Civil Rights
  • Technical support neededFacilitator of Online Discussion Board

Key Questions

  • Key QuestionsAnalyze the varying perspectives in HarperLee`s novel regarding race and poverty. Debate how one should determine who falls into his or her universe of obligation. Identify "mockingbirds" throughout the novel. Apply the concept of "mockingbirds" to your own life; is there a defenseless individual whom you feel responsible for?
  • Connections: How or why was this topic identified? Why is it meaningful?Tolerance is an essential element of becoming an effective citizen. As a student of English Language Arts, young people learn to communicate through a variety of means. Students are encouraged to advocate for and empower others - especially for those whose voices have been silenced.
  • Background Research: What resources were used to find background information for this project?To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Outcomes: What was the outcome? How was it shared or applied in the community?Students from both schools engaged in their first "in person" meeting at a non-profit organization called Camp Putnam. Camp Putnam aims to provide a safe summer camp experience for at risk youth, and has never turned away anybody for his or her inability to pay. Students donated four birdhouses to Camp Putnam, and divided the remaining birdhouses between the participating schools to be hung on school grounds.

Units / Activities

  • Civil Rights 10 WeeksDebate: MLK vs. Malcolm X
    Case Studies: Emmett Till & Bussing Boston
    Facing History and Ourselves
  • Great Books Online Discussion Group 8 WeeksOnline Discussion Between Two Middle Schools: To Kill a Mockingbird
    In Person Collaboration
    To Kill a Mockingbird

Instructional Techniques

  • Carousel ReflectionPhotos and quotes are posted on chart paper around the room. Students silently circulate (while period music plays) and leave written reflections on each piece of chart paper.
  • Twitter TuesdayStudents hone media literacy through a variety of lessons concerning word economy, safe online sharing, and collaborative innovation.

Assessment Techniques

  • Online Discussion BoardStudents from two middle schools engage in discussions about a text, sparked by higher order thinking questions.

Tags = communicating | poverty | tolerance | race | Subject = ELA, Technology, Service_Learning | Grade Level = MS | Time Period = School Year | Program/Funding = 354 |
Direct website link to this project: