Being Born a Crime Didn't Only Happen to Trevor Noah:

A Student Inquiry Project on Criminalized Identities


  • Amanda Durnal Greater Kansas City Writing Project and Blue Valley School District



race, discrimination, Born A Crime, Trevor Noah, memoir, research, identity, writing, reading, ELA, high school


Born A Crime, a memoir by Trevor Noah, has been a common addition to high school curricula in recent years. This paper addresses how to effectively teach this complex text and incorporates a research project that allows students to personalize chosen topics. The students who completed the focus work were on-level 10th grade ELA students and the unit took eight instructional weeks. This class met three times a week for two 88-minute blocks and one 44-minute class. The unit was engaging, and the rigor was appropriate for normally developing or advanced 10th grade students. Modifications were made for support-seeking students and those notes are included in this paper. The focus standards for this unit are Common Core W.10.9, RL.10.6, and RI 10.6. Students had access to a variety of academic databases for the research project, their own school-issued computers, and a copy of the memoir.

Author Biography

  • Amanda Durnal, Greater Kansas City Writing Project and Blue Valley School District

    Amanda Durnal is a classroom educator in Overland Park, KS. Her career began in Missouri as a Mizzou Teaching Fellow in 2006 and she will complete her 16th year of teaching this May. Students have ranged from 7th-11th graders during this time and currently she teaches on level 10th grade ELA and AP Language and Composition. She has been a member for the Greater Kansas City Writing Project since the summer of 2007 and will be one of the first Teacher Educators to complete the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing through the University of Central Missouri in August 2023. Outside of her teaching passion, she enjoys being outdoors, cheering on her two children at their various activities, brewery visits with her husband, and snuggle fests with the family dog. Amanda (she/her) can be reached at






Practitioner Pieces