Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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In Search of the Novel: Teachers & Lesson Plans

Diana Russell

Diana Russell

Diana Russell has taught in the public schools of Arlington County, Virginia, since 1990. She has worked in the county’s “Transitions” program, which focuses on minority and ESL students. She is a consultant for and member of the National Paideia Faculty and a practitioner of the Paideia method, giving workshops, speaking at conferences, training faculties, and developing materials.

Lesson Plan for To Kill a Mockingbird


  • After reading and discussing To Kill a Mockingbird, students will gain a greater understanding of relevant racial issues, especially as they touch upon economics, class, education, politics, and religion.
  • Students will develop skills in the Socratic method, following the Paideia philosophy.
  • Students will increase their understanding of plot, theme, character, and setting.


Ninth-grade GT English/History, three weeks

Reading and discussion of the following:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • How It Feels To Be Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston
  • On Being Black and Middle Class by Shelby Steele
  • The Final Days of Emmett Till by John Wesley
  • We Were Led by the Children by David Halberstam
  • The Struggle for Equality (a National Education Association publication)
  • The Movement by Anne Moody
  • The Decade: Visual Narration from the 1930s–1990s (students’ group work from the history class, given in class in PowerPoint presentations)

Write a personal, reflective essay that considers and cites the black/white community in To Kill a Mockingbird (four citations) and the readings and visual narration listed above (one citation from each). The essay will discuss your understanding of civil rights and the treatment of the various communities in Maycomb, Alabama, taking into account economics, politics, social class, education, and religion.


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