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Winning Lesson Plan
Using Literature To Study Setting


Subject: Language Arts, Art
Grade: 9-12

Albert Baggetta, who teaches at Agawam High School in Agawam, Massachusetts, submitted this week's lesson about the importance of setting in a story.

Brief Description

This lesson offers a focused approach to studying setting, using To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Students read the novel with an eye to collecting data that creates a mental image of the novel's setting. They catalog objects that are important location references to characters and events in the novel. Then they use the catalog to construct a physical map of Maycomb.


Students will understand the importance of setting in a novel and use computer technology to collect information and (possibly) create a map.


Reading, map skills, creating a database, mockingbird, setting

Materials Needed


Copies of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (all the same edition); a journal or a computer database for cataloging data; posterboard and drawing supplies or a computer drawing program

Lesson Plan

Note: This plan could easily be adapted for other novels or stories.



  • Students should use posterboard or heavy backing for their maps.
  • Artistic skill is not important, but neatness is.
  • Students should use color for their maps and label all objects.
  • Students should accurately identify at least ten stationary objects from the story. The maps should include the numbers of the pages on which the objects appear.
  • Journals and/or databases should be corrected for accuracy and neatness.
  • Attention should be given to spelling and phrasing.


Note: This activity works best as a joint project for two students. Sharing the work allows more time for students to read for enjoyment.

  • Discuss the lesson, mentioning examples of some of the objects and locations students should be looking for. Provide students with a starting reference point. For example, they might start by drawing Main Street or the Finch house. Reference to the setting sun is a good point for locating directions.
  • Students read the novel and collect data about stationary structures and objects used as part of the setting. Characters or the narrator of the story will usually reference those objects.
  • Students catalog each piece of information. The format of an entry should include a short quotation or paraphrase that includes the object, a reference to its physical location, and the page number from the book.
    Example: (not actually from the book)
    "There were chinaberry trees located behind the Finch house." page 57
    From this selection, a student should know where to draw the chinaberry trees in relation to the Finch house.
  • Students enter the information in a journal or database. Typing the data into a database allows students to search to locate specific objects quickly.
  • Students review collected data and draw maps. Encourage creativity by challenging students to create three-dimensional maps with Monopoly buildings, CAD programs, drawing programs, clip art, and other multimedia formats.


Base grading of maps and journals on their adherence to the instructions provided.


Lesson Plan Source


Albert Baggetta, Agawam High School, Agawam, Massachusetts

As our highlighted lesson, the submitter was awarded a $50 honorarium. See our guidelines to submit yours!


Originally published 02/07/2000
Last updated 01/13/2006

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