In this lesson, students examine the impact of rumors and gossip in their own lives and in To Kill a Mockingbird. After analyzing the difference between what is said and what is known about Arthur Radley, students write a sensational, tabloid-style news article.
I usually use this lesson early in the novel, just after we are introduced to Arthur (Boo) Radley.
For more great lessons, please see my full unit plan for To Kill a Mockingbird.
- Ask students to share examples of being the victim of gossip or rumour.
- Why do people gossip?
- Students are to make a T-Chart in their notes.
- Have the students consult the first chapter and make a list of things that they know are true about Boo Radley, and things that are rumour.
- When they are finished, have them share with the class and make a master list on the board.
- Then discuss other examples of truth and rumour being different – high school students should be able to provide a few examples of this phenomenon.
2. Truth vs. Rumor
Truth (known fact)
3. Maycomb Enquirer
- Pass around some newsstand gossip magazines – national enquirer, etc.
- Examine together and talk about how these articles might affect people’s lives. How much is fact and how much is fiction?
- After they have had a look at the gossip magazines, tell students they are to write an article for the Maycomb Enquirer.
- Their articles should have one foot planted lightly in fact, but can be sensational and largely invented.
- Have students share their articles when they finish.