Friday, March 9, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird: Communicating One's Understanding

Mr. Gilbert's language arts class just completed their reading of To Kill A Mockingbird. The students were challenged to express their understanding of the book through various formats. See below for a Mr. Gilbert's write up of the unit assessment options with images from some of the student projects. 


Congratulations! You’ve read, discussed, and analyzed various components of To Kill a Mockingbird (one of my personal favorites and according to, the #9 ranked).  For your final project of the winter term, choose one of the options below.  AS with any project, I want you to be excited and enthusiastic about it; however, you must truly understand the scope of the project before you begin to tackle it.  While each project will have very specific requirements, you must understand that it’s about YOU and what YOU want to do – not what you think I want you to do.  Let’s take a look…

1.  Book Cover – It is said that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest, we all do.  For this project, you are to create a new book cover for To Kill a Mockingbird.  Understand that a book’s cover is also an advertisement for the book.  Thus, you must really consider what you think is “the essence” of the book.  Is it a concept?  Is it a moment?  Is it a blend of moments?  What colors are displayed?  How does it work together to create one piece of “art.”  While you must consider what picture/images you’ll put on your cover, you must also remember that all book covers have a title and an author.  As a result, you must consider how you place those words (and any other words or phrases you may want to include) on the cover. 

2.  Literary Magazine Cover – Everette E. Dennis, leading scholar on media studies (he now teaches at Fordham University), has been quoted as saying, “Broadcasters are storytellers, newspapers are fact-gatherers and organizers of information and news magazines are kind of a hybrid of both.”  For this assignment, you are to create a literary magazine and have To Kill a Mockingbird as the cover story.  What is the name of your literary magazine?  Why is it called that?  Will the name be easy for your readers to “get” (i.e. understand)?  What other topics are you going to cover in this issue?  Understand that magazine covers are also advertisements – they’re trying to sell the entire issue to passersby in a store.  Keep in mind, that every magazine is different (and so you have a lot of creative freedom) but all magazines have dates, issues, and other essential things.  Just like the Book Cover assignment, you need to know every reason for your choices.

3.  Movie Trailer – No question, movie trailers are an important part of the movie-going experience.  In fact, some people actually enjoy seeing a movie trailer more than the movie they are planning to see.  Just like book covers and magazine covers, movie trailers are advertisements for the movie.  The big difference, of course, is that movie trailers use the medium of film to capture the attention of their targeted audience.  With quick cuts, slick editing, interesting narration, music, etc., a movie trailer gives a glimpse of the 120 minute-long movie in just two minutes.  Here, you must create a two minute movie trailer that highlights/promotes a movie version of To Kill a MockingbirdBE WARNED:  There is a whole lot that goes into making a movie trailer.  And, if you don’t use the Gregory Peck version of the movie, then what movie do you use?  If you use your “own” then you have to create new scenes and then film them.  One must make a lot of decisions to create an impactful movie trailer, but if you do it well, the pay off is awesome.   

4.  Soundtrack – In the early years of film and Broadway, music was very much instrumental to the success of a production.  People could relive their favorite moments and scenes through music without going back to the theater or sitting down and watching a two-three hour movie version.  As music became more important to s, some directors even contacted musicians and other artists to create music specifically for the movie they were making.  Thus, soundtracks were often noted as being “music inspired by the motion picture” and some will forever be linked to the movie (ex:  “My Heart Will Go On” – Titanic and “Eye of the Tiger” – Rocky III).  Nowadays, people in Hollywood do a little of both.  They may ask musicians to create music, or they may simply say, “That song is perfect for my movie.”  In any event, your task is to create an 8 song (minimum) soundtrack for To Kill a Mockingbird.  In choosing your songs, you must understand where in the movie they would work and why.  Thus, you must provide a typed-up list that explains why this song works for the movie and if appropriate, what scene it would accompany.  For your soundtrack, you must also create a cover for your CD, provide a “jacket” for the soundtrack – where you write your explanations on the inside, and burn (i.e. copy) the CD onto a disc.  In the end, you are creating a soundtrack, thus you need to provide all of the essentials.   

5.  Advice to Live By Tablet – To put it simply, advice is an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.  Generally, advice is a good thing – a way for people to share things they’ve learned in the world.  For instance, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” and “Today is the best day of your life,” are a few variations on commonly repeated themes.  Of course, advice (no matter what the topic) is debatable, and not everyone will agree.  I believe that To Kill a Mockingbird is full of great advice and for this task you are to create a Tablet that “highlights” the 10 most important pieces of advice given in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Consider these tablets to be 10 Commandment like; however, there should be absolutely no religious component to your tablet.  While the pieces of advice you include are taken into consideration for your overall grade, the presentation of your tablet, the way in which the words are written, structure, etc. is of higher value. 

*6.  Board Game – Create a board game that chronicles the adventures that exist in To Kill a Mockingbird.  When thinking of your game, you have to consider all of the events that happen in the novel and how they could be “good” or “bad” moments in a board game.  What is the overall goal of the game?  What happens if you don’t succeed?  How does someone win?  What types of things doe s a person “collect” or do they simply have to get from one point to another.  In addition to creating the concept of the game, you must create the actual board for the game and the pieces that one would need in order to play the game.  In the end, one should be able to play the game.  *This is the only project where one can work with a partner.

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