About this web page...
Ever since our school's computer labs have been hooked up to the Internet, I've watched students (and teachers) struggle with web searches. Although they seem more than capable of finding web pages devoted to the WWF, Marilyn Manson, soccer, and skateboarding, doing academic searches can prove to be frustrating and time consuming. The WWW can be a powerful teaching resource, but learning to master it for research purposes takes a lot of time and a great deal of patience, something most of our students and many teachers simply don't have.
Someone once said that the Internet is the world's biggest library -- but all the books are on the floor. What I've tried to do here is to pick up some of those "books" and put them on a "shelf" where they can be accessed with more ease.
This web page is meant to serve as an annotative source for To Kill a Mockingbird. Over 400 words, allusions, and idioms have been defined or explained. In addition, links have been added in many cases to provide further clarification.
Why To Kill a Mockingbird?
Harper Lee's novel is the fourth most taught piece of literature in the United States (preceeded only by Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Huckleberry Finn). The reasons for its popularity are obvious, including relevant themes and memorable characters. It is not, however, always the easiest book to teach. After all, in order to reveal those themes and recognize those characters, students must first make their way through a maze of words, allusions, and idioms that are not always recognizable, especially to students with limited English proficiency.
It is my hope that, by providing the annotations on this web page, students will have an easily accessed source to guide them through the mechanics of their reading. This should, hopefully, allow the classroom teacher more time to spend on discussion of other aspects of the novel.
Vocabulary, Allusions, and Idioms
In going through the text, I isolated three main areas to be annotated. The first, and by far the most extensive, is the vocabulary. In order to make this page student-friendly, I have attempted to provide the briefest explanations possible. While many of the words listed here have multiple meanings, only the most relevant definition is provided.
Historical figures and events, geographical locations, and literary references make up most of the list of allusions. Although smaller than the vocabulary list, the allusion section is perhaps the richest in terms of its links. The majority of these words and phrases are linked to either pictures or other web sites that provide further explanation and clarification.
The list of idioms provides explanations of various expressions and turns of phrase, many of which may be somewhat mysterious to those students who claim something other than English as their primary language.
Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird
The main purpose of this web page is to provide an avenue of assistance to those students reading the novel. It is not meant to serve as a substitute for reading the novel, nor is it designed to teach the text. The job of teaching the text, as well as related lessons on literary elements, etc., falls to you.
There are a variety of published teaching guides available for To Kill a Mockingbird. Online resources are somewhat scarcer, but I've located a few gems you might want to peruse:
To Kill a Mockingbird: Then and Now is a website with some excellent suggestions for teaching strategies and a very useful historical archive section.
Part of the EducEth site is devoted to this novel. There you'll find a variety of links -- including a few that will lead you right back here! Oh, the irony!
The fine folks at SCORE have also published some excellent lesson plans on the WWW.
Finally, on my Related Links page you'll find lots of other web resources that may assist you in planning your lessons.
Fatta the land, George!
If you or someone you know is teaching, reading or studying John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, The Of Mice and Men Student Survival Guide is online and ready for use.
Questions, comments, suggestions...?
I hope that you and your students will find this site useful. I would be most appreciative of any feedback you'd like to offer. I'm especially curious to know if there are other books to which you'd like to see me give the Student Survival Guide treatment. I can be reached at the email address listed below.
Nancy Louise Rutherford
Belmont High School, Los Angeles, CA