Is the narrator of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" sane/guilty or insane/not guilty of murder? Teachers and students both *love* the experience of debating this question, which rests on the legal definition of insanity and a close and careful reading of a beautifully complex and chilling short story.
Here's a 1-min video that frames this inquiry in the most dramatic way possible: a trailer for a horror movie in which students (the audience) must determine the fate of the narrator.
This trailer features (ridiculously) dramatic music, textually-accurate images, and provocative lesson-framing language: "He confessed to murder...But is he guilty?...Not if he can prove insanity....But does he meet the legal definition?...Today...Get ready to decide...The Trial."
I used an iMovie template and the abundant and stunning images and illustrations of TTH that are available online. There's nothing original here. Hence, the free resource.
But it took me the better part of a Friday night to find the right images (close-ups, wide-angles, etc.). And as much as I appreciated the chance to play with all these free resources, it took quite a bit of time.
So without further ado, I offer you: "The Trial."
P.S. I deliberately omitted the language/definition of legal insanity, as I know teachers modify this element of the lesson based on students' needs. My hope is that any teacher could use this tool/hook, regardless of which students they're teaching or which language/definition they use to frame the argument/debate.
P.P.S. If you use this with your kiddos and have a minute (Haha! Teachers? Time for non-essentials? I know, I know...) But...! If...! I'd love to hear your students' and your responses.