YAL - Young Adult Literature Presenter Unit 2013/2014



Highlighted Strategy

One of the strategies highlighted in this YAL Conference workshop is Take-a-Place, an experiential writing activity that coaches students to discover and explore a place, the very grounding of the scene as form in fiction and creative nonfiction writing. 

Through this integrally linked sequence of activities, which may take place over one or two high school class periods and ideally with students sitting in a semicircle, students journey through an experiential model of the writer’s process. Go to this strategy.

Learn more about these and other strategies that align with the Common Core Standards that were demonstrated in YAL Conference units.

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To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee


YAL Presenter Unit 2013/2014

Subjects: English
Grade Level: 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Posted: 2014, CCSS, Common Core State Standards
Unit Created by: Polly Mills

What makes this a good YAL choice...

To Kill a Mockingbird is a beautiful work of art, offering opportunities to teachers and students to explore literature as art, including exploration of the writer’s technique and process. It’s also a beloved and controversial classic story, whose themes present a worthwhile challenge to the adolescent reader who is eager to define true north on her own moral compass. Atticus, Scout and Tom (who puts himself at risk to help Mayella with her chiffarobe) are upstander characters, behaving from an internal sense of justice, even when they must go against social mores. Because the context of the story places it at the heart of the depression, in the Jim Crow South, the novel is ripe with opportunities to connect to history and social justice themes.


This novel is often on the assigned reading lists of high school English departments and is a grade 9-10 exemplar text in the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and Literacy. Teachers can address the CCSS (including reading, writing, and the use of informational texts and primary sources, including analysis of themes) while using a book that they are comfortable with or are required to teach. — Polly Mills


YAL Conference Workshop Description
To Kill a Mockingbird: Using CCSS to Engage Today's Readers with a Masterpiece
Cappy Ricks, Presenter

Harper Lee's masterpiece of civil rights, ethics, and local color invites us to stand in the shoes of Atticus, Scout, Tom, and, in fact, every character in Macomb County, Alabama in 1933, staked to a moment in our nation's past whose themes and concerns resonate against today's most disturbing headlines. With an eye on CCSS (Common Core State Standards) for Stories, Drama, and Poetry, and with insight from the workshop leader's experience as a fiction writer, we'll look at ways that you and your students can dig in to the author's technique, including Lee's extraordinary use of point of view and scene, and explore the novel's themes, which present an engaging challenge to the adolescent reader eager to define true north on her or his own moral compass. Addressing CCSS for Informational Texts in English Language Arts, we'll use primary sources, especially those related to the Scottsboro Boys Trial, and consider classroom mock trial activities. — Workshop Description for YAL 2013