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To Kill a Mockingbird

The Big Read: National Endowment for the Arts

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2014 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2014. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

Background from OER Project Review Team
The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. They support organizations across the country in developing community-wide programs which encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Resources include reader, teacher, and audio guides. Though the program supports organizations developing community-wide reading programs with associated events, the digital materials are available to all in pdf format which may be printed. This unit was designed to meet NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) standards and predates the Common Core State Standards. This should factor into the viewer's analysis of the review results.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Revision needed (4.5)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 1.25, Instructional Supports: 1.0, Assessment: 0.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.25, Interactivity: 0.0, Exercises: 1.0, Deeper Learning: 1.0.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Moderate (2.8)

Comments/Ideal Use:

These lessons are all well introduced and developed. Each lesson is organized the same way. There is a section to introduce the concepts focused in the lesson (symbol, character, plot, theme, etc.), followed by discussion activities, then a writing assignment and finally the homework assignment for the next day. The daily lessons progress logically and help the student build a deep understanding of each element of fiction and analysis of the novel. The elements are considered a bit too much in isolation. The summative assessment ideas provide teachers or students a selection of ways to demonstrate their understanding of the novel and the skills taught in the unit. The summative assessment ideas are all writing but there is no time in the unit, as written, to teach any of those writing skills.

This unit on To Kill a Mocking Bird would work well in a standard level (readers on grade level or above) classroom. As written, though, it would have to be a class in which all students have a quiet place to read three chapters a night and the motivation to read each night. The lessons clearly build in complexity over the course of the unit and the instructions are clear for teachers. There are no suggestions for how to scaffold instruction for ELL students or students who are reading well below grade level.


  • How do teachers know if students have meet the standards addressed in the lessons? No rubrics are provided for scoring assessments or answer keys.
  • Timing of the lessons is not realistic. The unit is presented as a series of 10 one day lessons. This requires students to read three chapters a night and on the last night of the 10 day unit, read three chapters and outline an essay.
  • Lacking a focus on Tier II vocabulary (words in the novel that students are likely to see in other contexts).
  • Skills/concepts addressed in isolation - each day focuses on a different topic.


  • Make suggested answers for the various activities in the lesson plans as well as rubrics for the larger assignments.
  • Provide more time for each lesson.
  • Identify words in the context of each chapter that will allow students to build their vocabulary.
  • Tweak some of the discussion questions or writing tasks to focus on how elements of fiction work together rather than each in isolation.

Comments/Ideal Use:

As an experienced 9-10 teacher, I would use this material as a supplemental reading around a core unit, perhaps of a Southern Era, Justice, or in a writing class, illustrating certain points of composition.


  • A major problem with this unit is the lack of scaffolding, modeling, and assessments. There needs to be an expression of what is expected of the student. Although there are requirements, there is no modeling of expected outcomes.
  • The Common Core Standards are not referred to nor are they implemented in any explicit manner.
  • Little progression of readings difficulty or varied writing styles appropriate to different audiences. The book selected has a consistent level of reading ease or difficulty, but there is little help from the lesson introduction or assignments in exploring the vocabulary or the writing style.
  • The lessons are not sensitive to the needs of the non-average student to grow and learn as well.


  • Develop assessments and provide the students with them as well as develop models of what is expected of the different standards.
  • The purpose of each lesson is provided, but the overall outcome is not. The outcome of both lessons and unit should be describe and associated with CCSS.
  • There needs to be structured vocabulary exposure and an auxiliary reading program. Writing techniques and editing skills should be explored.
  • Provisions should be made for the non-average student to grow and learn as well.

Comments/Ideal Use:

This resource could be used by an experienced teacher who would modify the assignments and add the appropriate instructional supports. The unit has some excellent support resources for author and historical background. There are other supplemental items, such as recommended jazz songs, that could also be used.


  • Skills to be addressed are not clearly outlined in the lesson.
  • Writing assignments are vague and only rarely used as springboards for discussion.
  • Close reading and analysis are not the focus of instruction. Reading skills are assumed to be at mastery rather than taught.


  • Identify CCSS Standards and then revise instructional units to develop skills in the standards.
  • Create specific writing assignments with mini-lessons explaining how to do the assigned task. Spend time evaluating the writing. Create rubrics to assess and self-assess writing.
  • Classroom instruction should include modeling and practice with close reading strategies.

Comments/Ideal Use:

Teacher would have to be a master teacher who understood the CCSS ELA extremely well in order to adapt this successfully.


  • No assessments included.
  • Minimal use of text dependent questions. Many of the questions are vague and do not lead students directly back to specific areas of the text to answer.
  • No direct vocabulary instruction.
  • Adaptations for students who read below grade level, are ELL, or need accommodations are not present.


  • Include assessments aligned to the material. If the essay at the end is considered an assessment, include a scoring rubric and/or student essay examples for teachers.
  • Rewrite questions so they require students to analyze the text and cite specific evidence within the reading.
  • Include specific academic vocabulary that students need to acquire or learn in order to be successful.
  • Include materials that scaffold for students of diverse needs. Address the issues of academic vocabulary for all students. Provide specificity for teachers on inclusion of all students.

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.