This editable close reading exercise features 10 text-dependent, higher-order questions, helping students improve reading comprehension of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (chapter 3). Two passages are included: one focusing on Walter Cunningham’s interaction with Jem and Scout, the other focusing on Scout and Calpurnia’s contentious relationship. An answer key is included.
This resource aligns well to Adolescent Literacy Project teaching principles. I recommend using these worksheets as the basis for small-group discussions. Through these discussions, students pose and respond to questions relating to plot, broad topics, and character development, demonstrating an ability to analyze how complex characters transform and advance the plot and themes by applying logic and citing compelling, meaningful textual evidence. They will also evaluate their peers’ reasoning and use of rhetoric to advance claims, clarifying or challenging unclear ideas. Using this resource for structured guidance, students, ultimately, will present information, conclusions, and supporting textual evidence clearly, concisely, and appropriately, thereby helping their peers – and teacher – comprehend their thinking. In the role of facilitator, I observe my students becoming more consistently engaged with the novel and taking greater ownership of their learning.
In addition to helping students gain deeper understanding of the material and greater confidence in their ability to read harder texts, this resource may prepare students for ACT-style questioning.
Questions pertain to the following:
- Analyzing character: Walter’s defensiveness (“His fists were half cocked, as if expecting an onslaught from both of us”).
- Discerning meaning from idiomatic expressions: “an air of speculation.”
- Applying grammar rules: punctuation and quotations.
- Determining the effect of language on a reader: “Walter looked as if he had been raised on fish food.”
- Applying literary devices: simile.
- Applying grammar rules: proper sentence structure.
- Applying literary devices: hyperbole.
- Drawing logical inferences: the significance of Calpurnia’s being literate in historical context.
- Defining vocabulary in context: iniquities.
- Analyzing craft: determining tone in a passage.