Behold the tragic case of Justin Laboy, an 18-year-old high school senior who agreed to sell a baggie of marijuana in a foolish attempt to impress his crush at school – a girl who turned out to be a 25-year-old undercover police officer. Yes, it’s a real-life version of a 21 Jump Street episode that concludes with a broken heart and a felony conviction. 

Laboy was interviewed for This American Life’s “21 Chump Street” podcast episode in 2012 and Broadway’s Lin-Manuel Miranda turned the podcast into a one-act musical in 2014. Together, these two pieces create a compelling compare/contrast analysis that’s certain to get teens talking. 

First, listen to the 13-minute podcast here:

Then, check out the 16-minute musical here:

You can write your own questions/discussion starters or download my set of materials here. I tagged this lesson in my TpT shop for grades 11 and 12 because the story focuses on drugs being sold at school; the lesson, however, would also work with 8th, 9th, and 10th grades since there aren’t any swear words or otherwise objectionable content. As always, use your good judgment about the appropriateness of this media for your classroom and community.

Let me know what other podcasts are filling your earbuds these days. I’m always on the hunt for great stories that’ll work in the classroom. Teach on, everyone!

Blog header image credit: Pixabay, public domain

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