Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Ichabod and Brom: Ghostfacers

Credibility and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Margaret Salesky, Lindsey Link | Published: July 20th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 120 minutes
  • Duration More 2-3 class periods


Students will watch videos to learn about firsthand accounts of ghost encounters and decide whether these stories are believable. Students will then read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and examine if and how Brom's story of the Headless Horseman was credible. Students will conclude the lesson by creating a credible ghost story of their own.

Essential Question(s)

How do you determine credibility? 



Students watch a video with stories of ghost interactions and share their thoughts about the stories' believability.


Students read and analyze an article about ghost hunters as they are introduced to the A-CLAP strategy.


Students read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," by Washington Irving, and complete an A-CLAP analysis to determine its credibility.


Students formulate credible ghost stories and use Flipgrid to tell their stories.


Students watch their classmates' stories and respond with feedback about how credible the stories were.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • A-CLAP handout (attached; one per student)

  • Pens/pencils

  • Student devices with Internet and camera access


Display slide 2 and inform students that today, they will be reading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and discussing credibility.

As an introduction to the lesson, have students view a video with people telling stories about ghost encounters. Before playing the video, display slide 3. Describe the Fist to Five instructional strategy. Invite students to hold up a fist (zero fingers) or up to five fingers to indicate how believable they thought each story or storyteller was.

Display slide 4, and show the video "People Tell Their Spookiest Ghost Stories" below.

Display slide 5. For each story, ask students, "On a scale of 0 to 5, how much do you believe this story?" Allow students to share the reasoning for their responses with the class.

Display slide 6, and ask follow-up questions to help guide the discussion:

  1. Did you believe these storytellers? Why or why not?

  2. What made these stories believable or not believable?

  3. What did you like or dislike about these stories?

Display slides 7 and read out the essential question: How do you determine credibility? Then, display slide 8 and share the learning objectives for this lesson.


Display slide 9. Students will now read the article Ghost Hunters Sound Credible With a Little 'Science' from Live Science.

When students have finished reading, ask them whether the article was a "credible" source, and what it tells them about credibility.

Display slide 10, and pass out copies of the A-CLAP handout. Inform students that they will use the A-CLAP strategy to help them determine whether the article was credible. Share the meaning of the A-CLAP acronym using slides 11-15 (detailed below). As you show each slide, have students look for supporting evidence within their copies of the article.

  • A: Authority (slide 11). Is there an author, editor, institution, or a publisher provided? Does the individual or organization list their qualifications or credentials?

  • C: Currency (slide 12). Is there a date that shows when the source was published or last updated? Keep in mind that not knowing the date of publication for factual or statistical information can call its accuracy into question.

  • L: Leaning (slide 13). Look for objective sources that present information with a minimum of bias and without the intention to persuade. If a debatable issue is covered, are both sides presented?

  • A: Accuracy (slide 14). Based on the reading you have already done on the subject, can you corroborate this information with other sources? Is factual information referenced in footnotes or in a "Works Cited" list?

  • P: Purpose (slide 15). Judge whether the source is geared toward a scholarly or general audience. Is the information relevant to your needs? If online, use the URL or other linked websites to help you determine its purpose.


Transition to slide 16, and invite students to read the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

Display slide 17. As they read the story, ask students to practice A-CLAP analysis and note details on their handouts that provide clues as to whether the story is credible.

When students have finished reading, display slide 18. Use the following questions to help guide a whole-class discussion about the reliability of the story:

  1. Is this story believable?

  2. Is the ghost story shared in this story believable?

  3. How does hearing stories second-, third-, or fourth-hand take away from their credibility?


Display slide 19. Invite students to use Flip to tell a ghost story. The story can be a firsthand account or a retelling of something they've heard or seen.

Before students begin working independently on their stories, consider having them read an article about How to Tell a Ghost Story or watch the video "How to Tell a Ghost Story" on slide 20 (and below) to learn a few helpful tips. As students prepare their stories, encourage them to use the A-CLAP prompts to help them ensure that they have a credible story.


Transition to slide 21, and have each student watch a few of the Flip ghost stories recorded by their classmates. Students should use the second page of their A-CLAP handouts to help them analyze and determine the credibility of three other stories told by their classmates. Students should then record a response to the classmates whose videos they viewed, making sure to provide evidence about why the stories were or were not credible.