The goals of the unit were threefold:
- Work on active listening to understand text and complete notes
- Complete secondary research to support interpretations of the primary source (the actual podcast)
- Write a research report using proper APA formatting
To begin the unit, I used the hook designed by Michael Godsey. Trying to get students to think back six weeks in their lives got them thinking, and they realized that their memories weren't what they thought they were. It also got them to connect to the challenges Adnan faced when asked to remember a specific day.
We then focused on what active listening looked like. You can see my students' ideas in the photo. I found brainstorming active listening as a class made it easy for me to keep them on task. I often just had to point to the list, and students would know that they couldn't fully engage if they were looking at their phone or weren't taking notes.
|After the first episode most students thought|
that Adnan was "not guilty". For the most
part that belief didn't change.
We also kept track of our thoughts about Adnan's guilt as we worked through Serial. One of the most engaging, yet frustrating things, about the podcast was the constant uncertainty. After each episode students were responsible for moving their magnetic pin from "guilty" to "not guilty" or vice versa, as they saw fit.
Overall, it appeared that students were engaged in the podcast. There would occasionally be heated discussions in pockets of the classroom about the evidence presented.
For the most part, I was happy with the summative research report, but there are aspects that I need to improve upon. The large number of formative work we did focusing on point, proof, and explanation paid off in their reports. For next year, I need to work on bringing in secondary sources and helping students to incorporate them into their work. Additionally, students struggled with the format of a research report. I think they had difficulty with the template I created. I will need to be explicit in my teaching of it. They also need more guidance to complete their references page.
I think that the unit was a nice alternative to using traditional texts in the classroom. I have included my folder of resources below, and please don't hesitate to give me feedback to make the unit better for next year. The actual Serial website has great resources to use, and the Serial sub-reddit on Reddit was also very helpful, especially since people had typed up transcripts of each episode.
Serial Teaching Folder