April Fleming, MSDE Admin, Kathleen Maher-Baker
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • MSDE
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • wa-ela
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Examining Human Compassion (Remix) Day 1: Defining Compassion and Morality

    Examining Human Compassion (Remix) Day 1: Defining Compassion and Morality



    Is compassion the basis for morality?


    Students will:

    • examine and interpret the definitions of morality and compassion as presented in a variety of texts
    • read, analyze, and discuss quotations and/or multimedia sources
    • write an original definition of a moral person (This definition will be used later in an argument paper which cites Atticus Finch's acts of compassion as evidence of his morality.)


    Image source: "Mockingbird" by skeeze on

    Defining Morality and Compassion


    Reading: Informational Text

    RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

    Speaking & Listening

    SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

    SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.


    Write the words morality and compassion on the board and have students generate a list of words they associate with these terms.  

    1) Show the video clips provided in the resources section, telling students to think about their word lists as they watch.  When they have finished watching each, provide students time to share their word lists in pairs or small groups and add to their individual lists.  Discuss their lists as a class and create a single list on the board by having students add to the list themselves or by using Kahoot or other polling software to share ideas.  

    2) Use the resources provided to show students quotations about morality and compassion.  Have them add to their word lists and then discuss their additions in pairs or small groups.  As a class, revisit the class list, adding any other terms or ideas the students suggest.

    3)This lesson has a variety of options for closing activities.  Students could use their word list to generate a defintion for what it means to be a moral person either individually or in small groups . Students could also use their word lists to create a word cloud or wordle using the attached website or another of your choosing.  When using this last option, keep in mind that students may repeat words as they enter them to enlarge what they believe to be the most important terms in their lists.  They will also need to use their word cloud to articulate more clearly  their definitions to use later in the unit.

    Defining Compassion and Morality


    What do the terms morality and compassion mean to you?  How are these words related to one another?  Create a list of words or terms you associate with each of these ideas.


    When you consider the movie clips, which terms or words would you add to further clarify these concepts?


    How do the quotations you've read further inform your understanding of morality or compassion?  Develop your list by additng more terms to reflect what you've learned.


    Follow your teacher's directions to create a definition or word cloud that reflects your understanding of what it means or be a moral person.