Studying the SERIAL Podcast in Nairobi, Kenya

We got an awesome email recently from a teacher in Nairobi, Kenya, who uses our Serial podcast lesson plans with his 8th grade students, and it left us feeling humbled and energized. He really captured the data-gathering aspect of some of the Serial (Season 1) exercises, and we hope the following pictures and his descriptions help you visualize how these exercise can look and work in your own classroom (photos lightly edited for privacy).

“I was trying to capture as much data as possible around one main idea: the changes in each student’s feelings about Adnan’s guilt/innocence episode to episode. I’m sure it can be improved, but this is what I put together for this first run at it. Basically, the vertical axis is a 0-100 guilty scale (0-totally innocent, 100-definitely guilty). The horizontal is the 12 episodes. After listening to each one, they are to ask themselves if their feelings have changed. (So last week, Adnan’s guilt ticked up a little bit after we learn that Adnan changed his story to the cops, and today, after listening to Episode 4 and hearing a bunch of Jay’s sketchy inconsistencies, a lot of them reduced the chances that Adnan did it.)”

“As you can see, we’re using colored little stickers. I also did different colors for male-female, to see if we would spot any gender-related clustering. Finally, I had them draw their initials or a little symbol on each sticker. The chart is mostly showing whole-class trending ā€“ with side-by-side comparison between all three classes ā€“ so I’m not really tracking this person-by-person. But I thought I might want this later if I wanted to ask them to connect their dots. It would probably totally overwhelm the charts and become a giant mess, but I suppose I could also give them a pre-printed personal grid at the end and ask them to use the master chart to plot out their own journey.”

“I had to adapt the second question for my middle schoolers. Most don’t have much dating experience, so knowing actual people who have done that thing would get pretty low numbers. More interesting, I thought, was to modify the question to “How many people (up to 10) do you know who you think WOULD do this?”

We LOVE (all caps, LOVE) hearing from other teachers and students about how they engage with the lesson plans we’ve produced. It’s one thing to enjoy the “ah-ha” moments with your own students, but a whole other thing to hear about these moments happening across the country, and around the globe. We’re grateful this teacher took the time to write, and we’d love to hear from you too. You can always email us, or find us on Twitter at @mrgodsey.

Real or “Fake News”? Teaching Discernment of Credibility in Journalism


With all the talk of “fake news,” we thought it’d be helpful to create a resource that practically helps students (of any age!) learn how to discern credible sources from sources lacking credibility. Using non-controversial examples (i.e. nothing remotely political), we’ve created a three-day “Fake News” unit, which empowers students with the vocabulary and sensibility to discern legitimate journalism from “fake news” (and the gradient of content between the two).

Subscribers to our email list received this three-day unit for free. If you’d like to receive future lesson plans free of charge, sign up here.

You can take a look at the preview of the unit, or buy it for yourself, here.