Pretend for a Moment that You're in Ninth Grade

OK. So you're in ninth grade, which makes you about 15 years old. You're reading To Kill a Mockingbird in your class, and you have to write a major paper. What would you rather have as your assignment?

1) Interview a person born in the mid-1920's about what it was like to grow up during the 1930s. You'll have a series of questions that you should ask regarding various aspects of life in the Great Depression--school, games, friends, trends, family, music, politics, economics, etc. After you have interviewed the person, you must write an article-style paper in which you not only tell about the person and report on your interview, but also introduce information about the 1930s that you have researched on your own.

2) Pretend you are a child in the 1930s. Research this period in American history, and then write a series of letters to a child of the first decade of the 2000s in which you tell them:

- what your home and neighborhood are like.
- what your family is like (family activities, standard of living, parents' jobs, etc.)
- what your school and friends are like (school, classes, teachers, activities with friends)
- what is going on in the world around you (politically, economically, fashions, music, radio, etc.)

I think #2 would be more work, but I also think it would be more fun. The final "paper," whether an article or a series of letters, will be about five pages.

I think it will be fun because they can really get an idea of what the "real people" and the "real world" were like during the days that Scout and Jem were running wild around Maycomb.

I will definitely be assigning a paper; I just can' t decide if I want to assign the journalist-style paper or the creative paper. Both will require research and citations (I know, I know, that takes all the fun out of the creative paper). I've thought about giving them a choice.

So ... those of you who have commented that you wish you could be in my class (and whoever else wants to put in their two cents): Which assignment would you rather be given?

Or would you just rather do a research paper on some aspect of the 1930s that gives a clearer understanding of the issues in the book--Jim Crow laws, expectations of women, etc.?

Here's what I think: Atticus Finch is just about the sexiest man in all of American literature, and Scout Finch is without question the coolest female ever conjured up in a writer's brain.


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