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Lizzie Borden: Infamous Murder Case Nonfiction Unit, Tone, Bias, Persuasion

Bespoke ELA
Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Higher Education
Formats Included
  • Zip
82 pages
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Bespoke ELA

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Lizzie Borden was tried and ultimately acquitted for the MURDER of her PARENTS in the 1890s. The trial was controversial. How could a WOMAN possibly hack her parents to death and why? How could this have happened while she was HOME if she didn't do it?

In this nonfiction unit, students will read articles about the case and then decide for themselves if they think Lizzie Borden is INNOCENT or GUILTY.

If your students like this nonfiction unit, be sure to check out the Bespoke ELA activity on deciphering tone and bias through the media coverage of the infamous Jack the Ripper!

Students will complete the following activities:

1. Close reading of news stories, including text features (ten total)

2. 5 multiple-choice questions for EACH ARTICLE to prep for standardized testing

3. Debate the verdict in the trial

4. Close read the Prosecutor's Closing Arguments

5. Write a Closing Argument Speech

6. View a Documentary about the trial

This is a HIGH-INTEREST WAY to integrate nonfiction into your curriculum and get students interacting with nonfiction texts that they won't be able to put down!

Learning Objectives

• To determine how bias affects our perceptions of truth

• To persuade an audience using rhetorical devices + strategies

• To select strong and relevant evidence to support an argument

• To analyze the structure of non-fiction texts

• To evaluate sources for reliability

• To write a persuasive speech for a specific audience and purpose • To close read a text for tone and central ideas

Essential Questions

• How does word choice affect tone?

• How does tone affect the perception of the truth?

• How are news stories structured? How does this structure affect the presentation of facts? • How does context create meaning in a text?

• How does a writer create characterization in a text?

• How does rhetoric, structure, word choice, and evidence persuade a reader?

• How is a persuasive speech constructed effectively?

Common Core Standards

R1-6, 8-11/ W 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11/ SL 4, 6/ L 1-6

If you like this bundle, be sure to check out these other HIGH-INTEREST nonfiction bundles:

The Donner Party Tragedy-- A Nonfiction Research Synthesis Project

Nonfiction: Tone and Bias in the Media Coverage of Jack the Ripper


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Total Pages
82 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.


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