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Lesson Plan

Creating Psychological Profiles of Characters in To Kill a Mockingbird

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Creating  Psychological Profiles of Characters in To Kill a Mockingbird

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions plus additional time for collaboration and presentations
Lesson Author

Lauren A. Gibbons

Lindenhurst, New York


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson asks students to explore the motivation behind characters' actions in To Kill a Mockingbird. Students first engage in a freewrite activity. They then do research and creative thinking to design a poster and plan a presentation representing a psychological profile for a selected character, while determining what specific factors (such as family, career, environment, and so forth) have the greatest influence on the characters' decision making throughout the novel.  The groups present their findings to the class by assuming the persona of their character and explaining the psychological factors influencing their behavior in the novel.

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Graphic Organizer For Psychological Character Profile: This handout can be used to analyze characters from a variety of literary works.

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Many students feel as if literature written in the past, near or distant, is irrelevant. The differences in time and place create a gap too significant between them and the characters in the novel. Students can be guided to overcome this resistance and more fully engage in a text when they recognize the relatable human qualities of a text's characters.

Louel Gibbons acknowledges the importance of relating past literary works to the current students' experiences in To Kill a Mockingbird in the Classroom: Walking in Someone Else's Shoes. Gibbons states, "As teachers, we understand that the appeal of timeless, classic literature lies in its ability to tap into the universality of the human experience and convey feelings and situations to which readers of all ages and eras can relate" Our discussions [in the classroom] remind us that no matter how different our backgrounds, the shared similarities in our life experiences provide a common thread connecting us all." (13)

Further Reading

Gibbons, Louel. To Kill A Mockingbird in the Classroom: Walking in Someone Else's Shoes. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2009.

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