Webquest: To Kill a Mockingbird

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WEBQUEST: To Kill a Mockingbird
The purpose of this activity is for you to use the Internet to find and review the historical backdrop

of To Kill a Mockingbird. The historical context will provide you with a deeper understanding of

the significance of the novel. You will be will be assessed on what you know and have learned.
Harper Lee

Read the following biographical information very carefully- remember, you will be explaining the information to your other group members.


  1. When and where was Harper Lee born? What was she like as a child and what was her family like?

  2. Who was her childhood best friend?

3. What did she study in college? Did she participate in any extra-curricular activities? Why might this be important to consider while reading To Kill A Mockingbird?

4. How did her decision to move to New York make To Kill A Mockingbird a reality?

5. What year was To Kill A Mockingbird published? When was it adapted to screen?

6. Was Harper Lee honored in any way following the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird?

7. Harper Lee's real life influenced many of the characters and events in To Kill A Mockingbird. Given what have you learned about her life (including personality traits, friends, family, experiences) make a prediction about what kinds of issues might surface in the book. Do you think that your knowledge about Harper Lee will influence your reading of the book? Should it influence your reading of the book? Why or why not?
The Great Depression & 1930s America

1. Click on http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/depression/photoessay.htm and explore the

pictures taken from the 1930s Depression Era.
2. Picture two’s caption comments, “Not only did bank failures wipe out people's savings, they also undermined the ideology of thrift.” What does this mean?
3. How do you think this event affected the post depression era generations?
4. What influence do you think this attitude may have had on the current economic situation (the downturn in the market, bankruptcies, foreclosures, high credit card balances and/or reduced lending availability?
5. Considering the content and captions of pictures, what contribution did the climate change of the 1930s make to the U.S.’s already troubled times?
6. In what ways did the economic and environmental events of the 1920s and 1930s impact the social events of the 1930s and 1940s?
7. What historical figure, do you feel, influenced or could have influenced this period and how?
Jim Crow Laws

  1. Click on http://www.nps.gov/malu/learn/education/jim_crow_laws.htm Read the information on this page and write a brief summary (150 words) of what you learned.

The Scottsboro Incident

  1. The setting for the Scottsboro case was the rural American South in the 1930s, when whites feared racial fraternization as much as blacks feared the mobs that enforced segregation. The defendants in the case were known as the Scottsboro Boys—a label that reflected their youth, but even more, in that place and at that time, an epithet used to imply racial inferiority. Click on the following links, read about the trial, and summarize what you learned from each link.


Final Assignment:

Type a one-page (300 words) synopsis reflecting upon what you have learned about 1930s America, Jim Crow

Laws, and the Scottsboro Trial. Be sure to adhere to MLA format.

• What surprised you?

• What made you angry?

• What do you think life would have been like for a small town, teenage, Caucasian girl or

boy during this period? Would they have been aware of the political and socio-economic

issues of the day?

• How would life have been different for a teenage, African American girl or boy during

this period? What concerns would they have had?

• How have these events shaped the world today? If you could go back and make one

change to the history that you have investigated in this assignment, whose shoes would you

step into and what would you do?

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