Helping students comprehend what they read is an essential skill that promotes success in terms of academics and career readiness. This close reading exercise helps students derive deeper meaning from the twenty-first chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. By engaging in this activity, students will apply literary devices to the text, draw rational inferences about character background, define complex vocabulary in context, and more. Two brief passages are included: one focusing on Walter Cunningham’s interaction with Jem and Scout, the other focusing on Scout and Calpurnia’s contentious relationship. Featuring 10 multiple choice questions, this editable resource includes an answer key with explanations and covers 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.
This resource aligns well to Adolescent Literacy Project teaching principles. I recommend using these worksheets as the basis for small-group discussions, letting students discuss, debate, and support their reasoning for answer choices. 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.