To Kill a Mockingbird Unit Essay
Pre-AP English 9, 2020 100 points possible in Major Assignments
Peer Editing (bring a PRINTED copy of your rough draft):
Wed. Jan 15 (Period 2) or Thurs. Jan. 16 (Periods 1 and 3)
Final Drafts Due Friday, January 17. Submit to turnitin.com by the end of the class period.
Scout, the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, begins the novel as a nave six year old with limited experience beyond her own quiet street. Throughout the course of the novel, Scout and her big brother Jem encounter attitudes and beliefs that challenge what they have been taught at home. Most significantly, the trial of Tom Robinson opens their eyes to the racism that permeates their small town and threatens peace and justice for all.
Your Task:
Compose a multi-paragraph essay exploring the theme of racism in To Kill a Mockingbird in the context of the African American Civil Rights Movement from emancipation to the present.
Begin your essay with a 2-3 sentence summary of the novel, including the title and author. Do not start with a question. Conclude the introductory paragraph with a thesis statement (no more than 2 sentences) articulating what the text is saying about the appointed theme. In other words, based on evidence in the text, how might the author answer the following questions: What are the origins of racial prejudice? What effect does racism have on the well- being of individuals and society as a whole? Do not use the word theme in your thesis (or anywhere else in the essay).
In the following body paragraphs, support your thesis with multiple specific examples of racist attitudes and/or actions in the novel and make connections to what you have learned about the history of African American Civil Rights from student presentations and the videos Race on the Oprah Show and Many Rivers to Cross. For example, its helpful to know about the practice of lynching black men in order to fully appreciate the danger Tom Robinson faces when he is transferred to the Maycomb jail. This section should be at least two healthy paragraphs. Be sure not to just summarize the text. Explain what the text is saying about the theme and how it says it.
Next, explain how To Kill a Mockingbird can help the reader better understand Leanita McLains point of view in the anchor text The Middle-Class Blacks Burden. How are the challenges she faces as a financially successful black woman in the 1980s related to the nations history of racism and segregation? This section should be at least one healthy paragraph.
For your conclusion, consider in what ways To Kill a Mockingbirds lessons are still relevant today. How might a student at BHS in 2020 apply this text to his or her own experience? How is the concept of privilege related to Atticuss advice that “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it?
Scoring: This essay will be scored holistically according to the rubric provided.
Exceptional Writing – A
Insightful, thoroughly developed, organized ideas
Clear sentence sense; variety and transitions; consistently correct spelling & punctuation
Superior vocabulary/no forbidden pronouns [I, me, my, mine, you, your/s]
Clear, concise thesis statement that follows appropriate introduction in 1st paragraph
Strong body paragraphs (including topic sentences) that fully support the thesis
Excellent evidence: Well-chosen, direct quotes from the text, plus other concrete examples
All quotations are introduced, integrated (no quote plopping), and cited correctly in MLA format
Uses present tense when discussing literature
Strong Writing – A A-
Communicates insightful, analytical ideas in an organized fashion
Clear sentence sense; variety and transitions; mostly correct conventions
Strong vocabulary/no forbidden pronouns
Clear thesis statement after appropriate introduction in 1st paragraph
Body of essay matches outline provided, supports thesis statement
Strong evidence: well-chosen two+ direct quotes from the text per paragraph (not including the introduction or
conclusion), plus other concrete examples
Quotations are introduced and cited correctly
Uses present tense when discussing literature
Capable Writing – B+ B B-
Attempts to use insightful ideas within organized pattern/some analysis evident
Some sentence variety; few fragments and run-ons; mostly correct conventions
Grade level vocabulary/ no forbidden pronouns
Thesis statement exists but may not be entirely clear
Intro. may not be entirely effective or appropriate
Body paragraphs may not entirely match up to thesis; ideas may wander a bit
Some effective evidence: At least one well-chosen direct quotation per paragraph and other examples
Developing Writing – C+ C C-
Attempts to communicate ideas with perhaps occasional insight/may lack analysis
Many simple sentences, some fragments and run-ons, conventions may be a problem
Ordinary vocabulary, may have slang/nonacademic language/may use forbidden pronouns
Average to weak thesis statement/introduction may be weak, ineffective
Ideas may wander or lack evidence
Tense may be inconsistent
Weak evidence: Less than two well-chosen quotes from the text, few concrete examples
Emerging Writing – D
Limited or undeveloped ideas/lack of analysis
Unclear sentences; wording may be awkward/difficult; many fragments and run-ons
Ineffective vocabulary
Weak thesis statement
Essay lacks unifying ideas/ lacks proof
Evidence almost nonexistent: Textual evidence is weak
Limited Writing – F
Undeveloped ideas
Unclear sentence structure
Ineffective vocabulary
No thesis statement
Forbidden pronouns
No direct quotes from the text



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