Gallery+Story: Brown Middle School students become Civil War true crime detectives

True-crime entertainment is all the rage on Netflix and podcasts, and now the genre is taking over the classrooms of EPISD.

Brown eighth-graders taking American Studies classes became sleuths and detectives looking for clues to solve a Civil War era crime that had implications to the development of history of the United States.

“It’s like Tiger King meets Law & Order,” quipped teacher Angela Word, one of the four teachers involved in the True Crime: Civil War lesson that took place earlier this week. “This a month-long New Tech project designed to get the kids excited and curious about the content.”

The other three teachers involved in the lesson were Veronica Fraire-Prado, Kelly Freeman and Tammie McNeely.

Student in four classes served as lead investigators in collaboration with virtual learners who followed along and helped from their computers. They walked through a historic crime scene picking up clues and determining what leads to follow.

Word said the lesson is designed to engage students in English and social-studies units, but also to have them use critical thinking and problem-solving skills. One added bonus to the lesson: safe group work during the time of social distancing.

“This worked well because our kids got to work with students they haven’t seen in a year,” she said. “It was uplifting to see and hear the kids smiling rushing around the room and outside in the hall gathering evidence with their classmates who are at home.”

In true Serial podcast fashion, the students will be tasked to create a final episode consisting of a full episode docudrama of the crime and their findings. All the final episodes will be judged and the winner will receive Brown’s version of an Emmy, called the Maximus Award.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  –  Photos by Brown MS  | El Paso ISD