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

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Jack the Ripper. One of the most notorious serial killers of all time. And he was never caught. There are over 100 theories about his identity. If you're looking for a high-interest nonfiction topic to get your students interested in analyzing nonfiction, this is it!

This activity has two parts. The first parts takes students through an exercise of identifying tone in a news article written about Jack the Ripper. There are four articles in this part of this lesson that all come from The London Times, late 1800s. (please note that all texts are in the public domain)

Each article is followed by a series of three multiple-choice questions written using Common Core question stems. These questions will help students understand the overall message of each article and encourage them to read critically. Students are then to record examples of tone from the articles and label the tone accordingly. Identifying tone will help with part two of this activity series in which students begin to analyze sources for bias.

In part two of this activity, students will assess a series of stories about Jack the Ripper all written on the exact same day, all about the exact same grisly discovery of two more female victims. By reading multiple sources on the same event, students will be able to compare/ contrast how each source represents the "truth." After assessing sources for bias, students will evaluate which source is more reliable and present their findings to the class.

I have also included FIVE extension activities to use with your students after completing this activity in order to keep your students engaged with nonfiction.

***Please note that there are a couple of paragraphs in this collection that are quite graphic and may be inappropriate for some students. Please censor the articles as you see fit.***

Jack the Ripper is a topic that will keep your students intrigued from the very get-go!

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Total Pages
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