Mockingbird

An Annotated List of Online Sources
Useful in Teaching
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

I am indebted to the developers and creators of the following resources, directly or indirectly related to Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The comments I have made are geared especially towards instructors of English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL), since that is what I teach. If you find any of these links are no longer available or if you have suggestions for links that might be added, please contact me at ca_in_sapporo @ me.com.

List of Topics for Online Sources: Study Guides; The Setting

Study Guides for TKAM | Harper Lee | Monroeville and Alabama | Mockingbirds
Photographs | Interviews | Southern Life | The Film

List of Topics for Online Sources: History; Trials

Historical Background Material | The Civil War | Jim Crow Laws and Racism | Ku Klux Klan
The Scottsboro Trial and Lynchings | The Great Depression | The Holocaust | Courtroom Language

List of Topics for Other Online Sources

Sites Especially for Students | Sites Connected to Allusions in TKAM | Other Sources

Study Guides for To Kill a Mockingbird

This study guide was designed especially for students in the U.K. It includes an outline of the novel, chapter-by-chapter questions, activities for responding to the text, and much more that is of use to both students and teachers. The guide can also be downloaded as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.
This has been the most helpful resource of all for me in developing materials for the class. The side includes a valuable list of allusions (particularly historical and cultural references) with links to definitions, information, and visuals (some of which are, unfortunately, outdated). There are also extensive lists of vocabulary and idioms, set up in frames so that they can be accessed by clicking on the chapter.
Mrs. Bradley's English Pages includes materials prepared for 9th grade students to guide them in studying the novel. Particularly valuable is the Introductory Activity of 11 statements with which students can agree or disagree. The site includes vocabulary, poetry by Langston Hughes, and questions for chapters 1-10. Questions for the remainder of the chapters may be purchased.
A teacher in Illinois has developed chapter-by-chapter questions on the novel as well as discussion questions on character, plot, and themes. Short lists of vocabulary are also included. An interesting comment of his is that he uses the term "black" since that is the one his black students – in a racially mixed class – were the most comfortable and found the least offensive of those in the novel.
The site includes projects for high school Sophomores. One is a characterization exercise with an example for one of Boo at http://www.stratford.k12.ct.us/our_schools/stratford_high/faculty_pages/mr_whiteside/sophomore_english/to_kill_a_mockingbird/index.html. There is a list of hints for making a map of Maycomb, both sentences and page numbers. There are questions for every chapter as well as suggestions for journal entries. Most of the links to other sources are already listed on this page, except for one that goes to "Hidden Rules" for Generational Poverty, Middle Class, and Wealth.
The guide has sections on the historical background of the novel, including parallels between the Scottsboro and Tom Robinson’s trials; a close look at the film, including scene analysis and the tools of filmmakers; and a close look at the novel, of which the most valuable exercise is an examination of forms of address used for the characters. There are also suggestions for special projects, including making a map of Maycomb, creating a collage of images from the novel, producing a newspaper from Maycomb "then" and "now," and writing a secret entry in Boo Radley's diary. [Also see Interviews below.]
Prince William Network (PWN) broadcast two live, interactive satellite teleconferences on April 24 & 25, 1997, and this guide was prepared by a team of teachers for that event. It includes some of the activities taken from the Teacher Study Guide which was inserted in the April, 1997 issue of NCTE's English Journal and can be downloaded as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. "The vision to reunite the cast and creative team from the TKM movie, putting them in touch with today's students who were not born when the film was made, belongs to Mary Badham (Scout)."

Harper Lee

An opportunity to listen to Harper Lee herself is available on this site, even the pronunciation of her name! You can listen to her biography as well as other works by the author. There is a synopsis of To Kill a Mockingbird as well as interesting information about the challenges it has faced through the years. The site includes a bulletin board for posting comments and questions about the novel, and a chat room (that I haven’t tried) which is open on Mondays. Links to other online resources and an annotated list of secondary literature are also provided. Unlike others, this site is kept up to date.

Monroeville and Alabama

This simple website has a photograph of courtroom of the old Monroe County Courthouse. Developed by students, it shows visitors some of the tourist attractions in the town and includes a gift shop.
Students can use MapQuest to locate Monroeville, Alabama, the home of Harper Lee, as well as other cities mentioned in the novel.
A map of the fictitious town of Maycomb is based on a map of the town where Harper Lee grew up, Monroeville. The fictitious map provides links to photographs of actual buildings in the 1930s by clicking on the Courthouse http://www.educeth.ch/english/readinglist/leeh/courthouse.html, Jail: http://www.educeth.ch/english/readinglist/leeh/jail.html, The Radley Place: http://www.educeth.ch/english/readinglist/leeh/radley.html, and the Schoolhouse: http://www.educeth.ch/english/readinglist/leeh/schoolhouse.html.
In addition to a map of Alabama, this site includes information about the state symbols, climate, land statistics, and a brief timeline of historical events. One link leads to a 10-question Quiz on Alabama http://www.netstate.com/states/quiz/al_quiz.htm that students are unlikely to be able to answer. They may be more familiar with some of the names on the list of Famous Natives.
Alabama statistics and historical information are available on this site. A detailed timeline is broken down into periods, including from 1901-1950.

An animated GIF of the Alabama state flag can be downloaded from this site. There are also a few statistical facts about Alabama.

Mockingbirds

With some beautiful (copyrighted) photographs of mockingbirds, this site provides descriptions, interesting background details [see below], and information about the habitat and distribution. The material is brief enough for ESL/EFL students to handle.
I found the following information particularly interesting: "The Northern Mockingbird is the most widely-known songbird in America. It is the state bird of Texas, but perhaps best known for its singing abilities. Not only can it perform 39 species’ songs and 50 call notes, but it also can mimic sounds such as that of a barking dog, squeaky hinges, notes from a piano and even a cackling hen, so expertly that even an electronic analysis could not tell the difference between the mockingbird and the original."
To hear a mockingbird, students can access this site, which contains 7-second recordings of the songs of four distinct species. Two are WAV files and two require RealAudio. Other information about mockingbirds, simple enough for ESL/EFL students, is also provided.
Walt Whitman, in his poem "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," refers to "two feather'd guests from Alabama." The poem, archived by Prof. Batke of Princeton University, can be used as a literary supplement to students as they read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Migrant Mother - Dorothea Lange

Photographs

  • Oakland Museum of California. (2005). Dorothea Lange. [February 12, 2005].
The famous Dorothea Lange photo of a migrant mother [see right] is only one of her many powerful photographs from the 1930s. Click on the slide show to see other photographs by Lange.
An absolute must for giving students a visual background for understanding To Kill a Mockingbird, this site has photographs are in the form of a slide show. Including authentic commentary by residents of Carbon Hill, these photographs provide students with a look at the churches and people of various occupations.
This site, which includes the photographic document of Carbon Hill, Alabama [see above], has numerous photographs depicting the daily life of American people in the 1930s.
Photographers for the Farm Security Administration took pictures to document the effects of the Depression, especially in rural America. The four photographs on this page speak volumes segregation during that period.
These black and white photographs of signs from the 1930s speak for themselves about the discrimination of the times. Click on each photograph for an enlarged view. "The Library of Congress is unaware of any restrictions on the use of the images."
"The images in the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. In the early years, the project emphasized rural life and the negative impact of the Great Depression, farm mechanization, and the Dust Bowl." This searchable collection contains 160,000 black-and-white photographs.
Compiled in somewhat random order are black and white photographs about events in American history, many pertaining to the Civil War, the Great Depression, and other topics that are pertinent to To Kill a Mockingbird. Clicking on the title provides an enlarged image of the photo, each of which is accompanied by a lesson, keywords, and the suggested grade level. The purpose of the host website, "Engaging Students in Historical Inquiry," is to bring active and exciting learning experiences into the classes of the teachers who use it. Hosted at the Grand Forks Public Schools, North Dakota, the on-going project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education "Teaching American History."

Interviews

This interview with Mrs. Peacolia Barge, who grew up just outside Birmingham, provides a look at a woman who defies all stereotypes. She had grandparents who were slaves and three children are college-educated, professional men and women. Students might gain a better understanding of Calpurnia by reading this interview.
One of the most valuable resources from the NCTE 35th Anniversary guide, this site has an interview with three ladies from prominent families who grew up in the deep South in the 1930s. In a format that is easy for students to read, the interview may help them understand the conflict between Scout and Aunt Alexandra.
  • Drilling, Carmon Belle, as told to Janet Claire Porterfield. (1999). Solgohachia. [February 14, 2005].
Students can learn about clothing, food, school, and everyday life in the 1930s by reading this firsthand account.
Photos and the story of the Saxe Schoolhouse (now known as the Community Center), located in Saxe, Virginia, in Charlotte County. Students can enjoy Ms. Ellington's first-hand account of school in the early part of the 20th century, which will help them understand more about what Scout encountered at school.
One of the most fascinating sites I've come across for educational use, it gives students the opportunity to listen to people talking about life during the depression as they read the transcripts. Main topics include Making Money, Machines, Crops, Water, Farm Life, Pests and Weeds, and World Events. By exploring these areas, one can find personal accounts of everything from the KKK to four sack clothes. Hours of exploration are possible at this site, which requires Flash Player 6.0 and Quicktime to watch and listen to the interviews.
This site is a collection of firsthand accounts by four people in Michigan who lived through the Great Depression. Students can read about music, Christmas, turkey farming, and many details of life during those hard times. The reminiscences were first published in Michigan History Magazine, January-February, 1982 (Vol. 66, No. 1).

Southern Life

Typical Southern foods–including cooking country ham, black-eyed peas, lima beans, collard green, turnip greens, poke sallet, okra, sweet potatoes, sorghum syrup, blackberries and dewberries, and muscadines–are described on this site. Many of these foods are mentioned in the novel, so students unfamiliar with them can read descriptions. Some include recipes.
From the Southern Women Webring, this site provides a look at many Southern delights, including Southern Bites such as cornbread grits, vidalia onions, fried green tomatoes, Southern fried chicken, and Southern sweet tea. There is even a link to kudzu!
  • Wessels Living Farm History. (n.d.). Foodways [February 14, 2005]
See this site for a list of foods "invented" during the Depression, some of which is surprising. The page includes an illustration of an original Kool-Aid package.
This is a delightfully humorous way for students to learn Southern "terms" such as Okra
The description of a typical family life, particularly the furnishings of the house (with links to everything from lye soap to toilet paper), provide students with an authentic background for the novel. The photographs of the family and school give a look at the type of clothing worn in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Smeralda. (2002). Dixieland [February 11, 2005]
To the strains of Dixieland, students can see a romanticized depiction and read one Southern woman's description of "my beloved Dixieland." There is an extensive list of nearly everything that connects to the South. Students can then continue to a list of what a Southern belle does and does not do [see below]

If Scout would follow the DOs and DON'Ts suggested on this site, she could be a proper Southern belle.
  • Suncastle, a card-toting genuine Southern Belle :). (2001). A Southern Belle [February 22, 2005]
In addition to DOs and DON'Ts, this site has a scenario for what to do if a gentleman misbehaves. The Maycomb ladies would approve.

Sites about the Film To Kill a Mockingbird

For anyone interested in background information on the film, this is one of the most fascinating sites I've come across, including possibilities on true people the characters were modeled after (Atticus on Lee's father, A.C. Lee, a lawyer in Monroeville, and Dill on author Truman Capote). The comments by the Academy Award winning Art Directors, Alexander Golitzen and Henry Bumstead, include how they set up "Maycomb" on the back lot of a studio in Hollywood and why the film was shot in black and white. Of particular interested to students might be an opportunity to see some of the original storyboards from the film and compare them to actual frames taken from the motion picture. It is also possible to watch the first two minutes of the film using RealPlayer.
A thorough 3-page synopsis of the film including dialogue and a list of the cigar box collection shown in the opening credits.
Requiring RealPlayer, this site includes a conversation with Gregory Peck, comments by the Oscar winning art designer Henry Bumstead, and commentary by William Windom. (I can't evaluate the site further until I have an opportunity to listen to the commentaries.)
Watch a clip, watch the movie, or download the movie. Real Player is necessary. The site also includes a few photographs from the movie.
This is a source for photographs from the film To Kill a Mockingbird. There is an explanation of publicity stills and suggestions for their use in the classroom.

CONTINUED

Compiled by CA Edington, Sapporo, Japan, Spring, 2005.