Who Done It? Mystery Genre Kick-Off

It's nice to move on from Nonfiction. That unit seemed to dragggggg. Maybe because it was both before and after winter break that we worked on it. Anywho, I was excited to start our next unit: mystery genre book clubs! Here's a peek into our first 2 weeks!

For this fictional unit, we bring out all the engagement strategies we know! We launch with a real life classroom mystery that lasts the whole day. We do book clubs. We do exciting read alouds. We watch mystery movies. It's a great unit before we transition into test prep.

We started with a real life mystery. I didn't take pictures really because it was a crazy day! Not only was it the day of my last formal observation of the year, but I had to perfectly choreograph all the suspects and clues so that I could teach into the mystery vocab. Here's a little run down on our mystery:

Due to severe allergies, snack is provided each day for students. A favorite is puff corn. Knowing this, I brought some and told them that was our snack that day. Pumped! Little did they know that it was going to go missing. I had my principal in on it, who was going to be in the room anyways for my last observation. She even was sneezing and coughing on purpose to make sure that students knew she was there so they would suspect her. I had the music teacher have some on her desk for when they went there for music. I hoped at least one observant kid would notice... and they did. I had our instructional coach walk in with some as her 'snack' to give me something. We had pretend announcements over the intercom, generated questions to ask our suspects, nonchalantly walked around the school looking for clues, called suspects, the whole 9 yards! I had kids who literally couldn't contain themselves with the excitement. We had indoor recess that day to the cold and all of them wanted to write down notes on this case so they made their own graphic organizer and whenever we learned something new, they wrote it down. All the while, I was plugging in mystery genre vocabulary. To quote one student, "It was the best day of my entire life." (Ok- maybe not MY life... but for an 8 year old, perhaps this isn't too far from the truth.)

The next day, we did this matching activity for the vocabulary we learned the day prior. We used my teammates awesome mystery pack. It's in our binder to reference if we forget.

I also had to be gone one day due to a committee meeting. So students got to watch a movie! But not just any movie, a Scooby Doo movie to reinforce vocabulary, story structure, and inferring.

We also promoted engagement by doing mystery book clubs. We learned how to prepare and what roles we can play when we meet. It's going pretty good. Our wonky schedule with testing is making it difficult to keep track of things, but we're trying. It'll look different these next two weeks because I loose my coteacher to ACCESS testing. Boo. We finally were getting into a good rhythm.

We've talked about story structure quite a bit to help us review fiction since we've been out of it for what seems months. We used this story arc during our fiction unit:

I then showed them this story arc:

We compared the two and why they are similar (mystery is typically fiction so it has the same elements) and how they are different (mystery typically escalates in spurts due to clues and suspects, reaching a very exciting parts and then wrapping up quickly). This was a nice refresher and helped them to know what to look for.

To wrap up our first bend, we created this chart inspired by my other teammate! I loved his thinking with organizing this chart. We've been all about the trees this year as a visual for our learning. Not sure of our fascination with it, but it just works for so much! And so we continue with it.

We reviewed that we have to be rooted in the text by rereading, reading closely, and stopping and jotting. We should be noticing the different characters and what kind of people they are as well as the clues (evidence) the author is giving us about the mystery. Lastly, we talked about the type of thinking we do with mysteries: questioning, inferring, and predicting. I had all the post-its off the chart and we sorted them together. Then, they talked about which part of the tree they wanted to focus more on in the second bend of our work. I loved how most students knew exactly where they needed to grow!

We are onto the next bend in this mystery genre. I wonder if we will run into any red herrings??


1 comment

  1. Wow, Kelli! This is AWESOME! I love that you started with a real-life mystery and worked in all of those vocabulary words. I also love the anchor charts and the mystery story arc. One question... was is ACCESS testing?


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