Promote Nonviolence (Grade 10)

9, 10, 11, 12

Students read To Kill a Mockingbird and discuss examples of violence. They promote the idea of doing for others by organizing a rally for nonviolence. 

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to two 45 minute class periods, plus time to read the book

The learner will:

  • read To Kill a Mockingbird, a story about racism and violence.
  • organize and sponsor a rally for nonviolence.
  • student copies of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • one sheet of posterboard for each small group
  • assorted markers
  • optional: tools for making flyers
Teacher Preparation 

If there is not time for the class to read the entire book of To Kill a Mockingbird, there are other options. The teacher may choose excerpts from the book for students to read and discuss. Different groups may read different excepts and share a summary of what they read, or everyone may read the same parts. In addition, the DVD version of the story follows the themes and language of the book closely. The class may view parts of the movie to gain a sense of the tone and themes of the book.

This lesson may be part of a larger unit in which the class reads To Kill a Mockingbird over a longer period of time.


service: to provide a community or organization with something that it needs

nonviolence: the principle of refraining from using violence, especially as a means of protest

advocacy: active verbal support for a cause or position


Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0061120084


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students to think about how big changes in history were started, such as abolition and the Civil Rights Movement. Tell the students that often big changes in laws and government come about because people took action through advocacy and the nonprofit sector. Tell them that in this lesson, they can act as advocates for nonviolence to raise awareness about the issue of violence in our society.

  2. Introduce the theme of the day: promote nonviolence. Tell the students that after reading about the effects of violence, they will form a rally to promote nonviolence in their community or school.Through their efforts, they may get the school or community to make policy changes to promote peace.

  3. Have students read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Or they may read significant sections from the book. Discuss the theme of violence in the book. Bring this to a discussion of violence in today's culture and in what forms violence shows up at school.

  4. Discussion:

    • Violence and the mob mentality are seen in chapter 15 when Atticus tells Jem that mobs are "made up of people."He implies that people lose their individuality when part of a group. Discuss: Why are individuals far less apt to do the things that mobs do? What examples of this have students seen at school? What other aspects of violence are discussed in the novel?
    • In the last few lines of To Kill a Mockingbird Scout says, "he was real nice..." and Atticus replies, "most people are, Scout, when you finally see them." Discuss what he means by this statement. What are examples of "seeing people"? Do you agree that most people in the novel are nice once you “see” them? What about people in the real world? Have students discuss examples of good people also having bad traits.
    • What types of intrinsic values does Atticus Finch possess? How do you think that these traits help to develop his character in the story? How could these values help others cope with dealing with sensitive topics?
    • At the end of the book, Scout says that telling people Boo Radley committed the murder would have been "sort of like shootin' a mockingbird." What does that mean?
    • In what ways is Boo like a mockingbird? What real-life connections can you draw from this?
    • Compare Atticus to Martin Luther King, Jr. How are the men alike? How are they different?
    • Have students brainstorm ways to support students who encounter violence or bullying.
  5. Explain that students will organize and promote a rally that promotes nonviolence in the community. An anti-violence rally is a great way to bring a large number of people together to learn more about the importance of peace. The community, politicians, and businesses will be sent a clear message about the importance of this topic.

  6. Planning Elements:

    • Recruit a team to organize the event. These people can help make flyers and signs to get the word out.
    • Brainstorm and research with the team to come up with slogans.
    • Pick an area that can hold a lot of people. Call the local police station to find out if you need a permit. It's always in your best interest to keep the police well informed and to cooperate with them.
    • Recruit a panel of inspiring, well-rounded experts to speak at the event and bring insights, stories and perspectives.
    • Chants, music, performances, and street art can also make a rally much more enjoyable and generally more noteworthy. You may want some "pre-rally" entertainment, such as a band or a dramatic performance.
    • Make sure there's a schedule of events. Ensure that your speakers are ready and know how long they can talk. Make sure you have all the right permits with the police and community development groups.
    • Have flyers handy with some facts about your cause and create some extra signs for people to hold.
  7. Reflection is a key component of service-learning that adds meaning to the experience. Ask students how they felt about the rally and promoting the messages of their campaign. Ask them how they think others will feel about their act of service. Discuss with students why doing this project was important.

  8. Have students complete the following statement. I expected community members to be______.

Cross Curriculum 

This lesson involves selecting an issue of concern to the students and then participating in a peace rally to take action as advocates for change.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
      2. Benchmark HS.7 Describe how the civil society sector provides mediation for individuals and governments.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.