What Makes Us Fit In? Inclusion and Exclusion in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Sam Ford, Kaitlyn Nix, Paige Schoenborn, and Margaret Timmer

Discussion Questions


1. In both To Kill a Mockingbird and Wonder, there is extreme importance put on the relationship between the main characters, (children), and their parents. In what ways are Jem and Scout's relationship to their father Atticus the same as Auggie and Via's relationship to their parents? In what ways are they different?
2. Imagine the different characters had to switch parents in the books. How might life have been different for Jem and Scout if they had Auggie's parents and how might life have been different for Auggie and Via if they had Atticus for a father?
3. Is it possible for children's perspectives to differ from their parents? Think specifically of the Ewell's, the Finch's, the Pullman's, and the Alban's. Do you think in your own life many of your perspectives differ from your parents'?
4. How would you describe August and Arthur in the first few chapters of the novels? How does that description change by the end of the novels? How do other character's perspectives and opinions change?
5. What is the significance of the titles of the two novels? Do they give the reader any insight as to what the novel might be about? What are the authors' purposes for choosing the titles?
6. What characteristics caused both Arthur and August to become social outcasts in the beginning of the two novels? How did this change by the end?
7.How do you see Atticus' role as a single parent differ from the family structure of Auggie's parents? How do these different styles and structures of authority influence their respective children?
8. How do the opening lines or first pages in each book foreshadow events in the story? Do these opening problems get resolved? How so?
9. Who do you find to be more of a sympathetic character: Arthur Radley or Auggie?
10. What defines a particular social group in Wonder? What about in To Kill a Mockingbird? Are these the same rules that social groups follow in our school?
11. Do the social groups change during the course of the stories? Is it possible for characters to belong to more than one group at a time? Do you feel it's possible for students here at our school to belong to more than one group at a time?
12. How do the characters include and exclude one another in Wonder and To Kill a Mockingbird? Why do you think that happens?
13. Wonder depicts the year of school that moved Auggie Pullman from exclusion to inclusion. To Kill a Mockingbird depicts a course of years where Boo Radley goes from an outsider to a close friend of Jem and Scout. What had to happen for these positions to change? Have you ever had an experience where your position changed radically like this? Can you think of an example from something else you've read where someone's situation changed radically?
14. What actions in the stories seem to spark change? Can you think of any examples in our school where students change their social groups? Who, how, and why do people become excluded?
15. What characteristics define the social groups in Wonder and To Kill a Mockingbird?
16. August Pullman is excluded because of a physical deformity. Arthur Radley is excluded because of a mental deformity. Which situation is more difficult to deal with? How might one situation be better than the other?
17. At the end of the stories, do you think there was significant change in the dynamics of the social groups? Do you think it is possible for people to change their opinions about other people who are unlike them?

Class Activities


1. Pick a theme that is consistent throughout both novels. Create a storyboard depicting examples that support that theme and briefly describe examples from the text.
Incorportate online learning by using a Storyboard Crafter template online.

2. Create a character map for both novels. Include their physcial appearance, character traits, relatives, friendships, and their role or motivation in the story. Then using the character map, choose two characters (one from each novel) and describe their similarities and differences. How do these characters change throughout the story? Templates for this can be found by clicking this link: Character Map.

3. Students will re-write one scene from each novel from the perspective of Arthur and August. They will work in small groups, first discussing the scene they choose to re-write, and then working together they will rewrite the scenes from the perspectives of Arthur and August. Later they will share their work with the class.


Original Multimedia


Additional Resources


1. Be Nice Campaign: This resource is great if the discussion of the classroom turns to bullying. Because there is such a focus on inclusion and exclusion in the two texts of this lesson plan, this is a great resource to show students some of the campaigns and things that are happening in real life today to help make a difference.

2. Literature Circle Handouts: This website offers many helpful different handouts to give the students while doing literature circles in high school. Some of the handouts include tables to keep track of the different people participating and the different questions that are being asked. This is also a great resource because it includes handouts to give the students at the beginning of their literature circles to learn how a literature circle works and the different ways the students can learn with eachother.

3. Literature Circle Handouts for Online Learning: This is another great website for teachers to use if they want more handouts for literature circles. These handouts include calendars for reading and meeting times, but this is also an excellent resource because it includes different handouts, calendars, and instructions for students/teachers who are learning in an online classroom.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird Activities: This website offers different activities and corresponding handouts to accompany the text To Kill a Mockingbird. The activities offered on this website are all hands-on and creative, and could all be tailored to fit Wonder as well.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird Informational Resource: This is an amazing resources for students and teachers reading To Kill a Mockingbird. On this website there are plot summaries, character descriptions, background information, narrative element notes, and descriptions of different possible themes. Along with these resources, there are also example questions and possible activities offered for the different sections.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird Story Boards: Because one of our activities will have the students create story boards for both To Kill a Mockingbird and Wonder, this site with example story boards will be very helpful. Just in case any of the students are having any trouble or would just like a good example, this site has hundreds of different story boards and will give the students a good idea of how to do a quality story board.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird Teacher Resources: On this website there is a plethora of resources that teachers can use to help them teach "To Kill a Mockingbird." The site offers various lesson plans, historical resources, and great information about the author.

8. To Kill a Mockingbird Video Clips: This website offers movie clips of the TCM version of "To Kill a Mockingbird." While there are many different sites with video, this site has the clips pre-made and titled for different sections of teaching. For example, there is a clip labeled, "Introduction" and then different clips labeled for some of the different themes. It makes the use of video extremely easy for the instructor.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird Vocabulary Lists: This great resource has lists of the difficult vocabulary found in all the different chapters of the book To Kill a Mockingbird. The vocabulary lists offer definitions, the sentence found in the novel, and another sentence example so the students have a very good idea of the meaning. Because the text is so dense, giving the students this resource at the beginning of their reading will surely help with their comprehension and reading overall.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird Writing Activities: This website has all great writing activities in connection to To Kill a Mockingbird. This is a good resource because while there are many hands-on activities that students can do with the texts, it is also important to have the students do different writing activities and this website offers many great prompts to promote creativity and academic writing.

11. Reference Notes for Wonder: This great website has different pages for the different parts of Wonder, but a teacher that taught this text created this website because students had some different questions about some of the references in the book. So, for each of the different parts the teacher explains some of the important references in the book and how they connect to the story. For example, there is a note about Doogie Hauser because August's parents call him that for a nickname. The teacher has a brief explanation of the fictional TV show character and makes the connection between the character in Wonder and the character in the TV show.

12. RJ Palacio Website: This is the author's, RJ Palacio's, website for the book Wonder. On this webpage the author offers a blog about what she has been working on, along with frequently asked questions that people have asked her, and teacher resources. This is a great resource for teachers because it is possible for the students to make connections with the author herself and there are also campaigns the author has for readers to write in new ideas for her new books.

13. Wonder Author Information and Activities: This website has a lot of information on the author of the book, Wonder, RJ Palacio. The website offers interviews with the author and the lesson plan the author planned to have connected to her text. Many of the activities are connected to inclusion/exclusion, bullying, and the solutions to these problems.

14. Wonder Pinterest Page: This is a board on Pinterest created by a teacher with different resources and activities that she/he had done with the text. What is so nice about this resource for teachers is that there are pictures of all the different activities and it is possible to continuously add resources to this page.

15. Wonder Student Workbook: This website offers an inexpensive download for a student workbook for Wonder. The workbook divides the text up into smaller sections, 7 in total, and has different activities for each section. This resource was created by a fellow teacher, so the quality of the material should be high. This is an especially good resource for language arts teachers focused on the analysis of literary language (similes, metaphors, etc.).