Sunday, September 7, 2014

Really Getting Into the Mystery Genre

Ha!  I love it!
There is a reading incentive program at my school that involves grades 4 and 5 students reading a certain amount of books in each genre.  To help students figure out distinguishing features of each genre, I'm taking individual class periods to teach one genre every other month.  The first genre I'm teaching is mystery.  I'm SO excited about teaching mysteries because I'm dressing up as a detective! 

Class started with student's background knowledge.  I let them come to the board and finish the prompt, "A mystery is..."  I get a kick out of how many of my students seem reluctant to go up and then all it takes is one and the whole class wants to write their opinion.

The heart of the lesson involves a re-purposed book care activity. The basic jist is I let the students know there has been a crime in the library and that books have been damaged (insert student gasp here).  They receive their own detective's notebooks to write down the information.  I introduce the vocabulary in their notebooks by modeling how to fill in the notebook.  Then I introduce the suspects.  I use cartoon villains--Shredder, Mr. Crabs, Pizza Steve, and Aloysius O'Hare.  Students LOVE seeing the suspects!!
Detective's Notebook (inside view)

We move on to the part where they need to fill out the sections: crime committed, suspects, evidence, clues, and who they believe actually committed the crime out of the four suspects.  They choose a book from the evidence pile and work with a partner or their table to look through the book and figure out what's wrong with the book.  Possible issues are: ripped pages or binding, writing, food stains, and water damage.  They use their inferring skills to connect the villain to the crime...Mr. Crabs lives under water, so he probably damaged a book with water or Pizza Steve is food so he most likely got food stains on books.

Student interest and excitement...check!
Using this lesson yearly now...oh yeah!

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