Anyone who even remotely follows my work knows one thing - for sure - by now.
I LOVE true crime.
I've shared my materials for The Murder of Allan Ripley and my virtual CSI: AP Language. Now, I have an entire unit. (In my defense, it's what the kiddos wanted... Like over 75% of them.)
Introducing.... my version of Unsolved Mysteries.
[NOTE: The full unit will be for sale on my Teachers Pay Teachers site shortly.]
You'll notice that the rubric (scroll to the bottom of the inserted page) uses AP Language standards, including: Thesis, Commentary, Intro/Conclusions, Assertions and Evidence, but it also uses some of my own (Revision and Presenting Information).
Because everything in 2020/2021 must be flexible - that's how I allowed the students pace themselves. I gave them the checklist below and the suggested pacing calendar, but ultimately, everything was given a hard deadline at the end.
We have student iPads, so I directed them to Anchor, an app that makes podcasts really simple. (It is pretty limited, but at the end of the semester, that isn't necessarily a bad thing).
If you will be using desktops or laptops, I would recommend Audacity. I've used it in the past with students and they caught on pretty quickly.
For a sample, I created a podcast about the Manson murders with my fellow AP teacher. Ours got a little extra (SHOCKING!) so it's over 18 minutes. However, we wanted to be sure that students saw the many different things they could do with audio and discourse. (#noregrets)
As of now, students have (or at least they are pretending to have) completed their research and are putting together scripts. Because they are in groups, they have been pretty self reliant - with me just popping in to suggested resources and remind them about rubric criteria.
If you're looking for something to end the semester or a break from test prep monotony next semester, I hope you find this helpful.
I didn't even post in December! What??
Sorry for the radio silence. I have been a busy bee - along with pretty much every teach in America. My seniors have wrapped up our introduction to poetry and are now deep into Sing Unburied Sing by Jessmyn Ward. The juniors - AP Language - have finished their survey of the three essays on the exam and are now jumping in to a unit they helped me design - true crime podcasts! (As you might have inferred, they LOVED our True Crime week awhile back).
Regardless, today was one of those days where I just put all of that on the back burner. Moments such as yesterday are (fortunately) rare in our history as a nation, but they deserve dedicated time in class. For kids to process. To have big conversations. And - in AP Lang - to look at what role language has to play in the "real world."
Cue: Me, frantically texting my AP Language counterpart yesterday, rewriting the entire plan for this week.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I am a PLANNER when it comes to school. I plan months of material at a time. Struggling with anxiety, it is one of the things I can control, so I DO. (I'm the fool who has semester 1 planned out by the time school starts).
That said, one of the hardest lessons for me as a teacher has been knowing when things can wait. Obsessively watching the news last night and the stream of congressional debate, I found myself in one of those important moments. I immediately thought, "If there was ever a moment for kids to 'get' a rhetorical situation, this is it!"
We were going to revisit rhetorical analysis next week anyways, so I cut that stuff out. Pushed back today's work. Then, threw together a quick graphic organizer for them to practice identifying rhetorical choices:
I started class with a brief overview of yesterday's events. (A DIFFICULT task when you are trying to appear objective and unbiased).
Then, we walked through the graphic organizer before I shared the YouTube playlist. In small groups, they watched videos together and picked out one rhetorical choice in each video - which they then explained as well.
Some of my proudest moments of today were when ...
1. I got to tell a kid that she can write like Tammy Duckworth too, if she just keeps writing.
2. Another student marveled that they put these speeches together under so much pressure, allowing me to tell them that there is a reason behind timed writes and healthy pressure. (That it brings out our best at times!)
3. Two girls who have struggled all year FINALLY picked out a rhetorical choice on their own! And beamed with pride that they did it!
To put it simply, it was a really great day in AP Lang, and I actually think the kids will remember it.
What else can you ask for mid-pandemic? Am I right?