Detective Academy Graduates: Shakespeare's Secret

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SWBAT identify and apply context clues within small group discussion on solving mysteries.

Big Idea

Students will "graduate" from the "Detective Academy." They will gain more independence in solving mysteries.


Lesson Opener

20 minutes

This lesson starts out with me dressing the part of a detective (just like in the first lesson in this unit).  Only this time I will be sporting my briefcase.  (I will have a book, an iPod, and a certificate for a "John B. Fritzheimer," a fictitious character, in the briefcase.)

I will congratulate the students on a job well done in the detective academy and let them know that they are now ready for the title "detective."  I need their help with the first case.  I explain that I found this briefcase in the school parking lot.  Before opening the briefcase, I will ask:

What do you think is inside?

Who could it belong to?

After we brainstorm ideas and look for clues, we will open the case and examine the contents.  

What clues do we have now?

Who could this belong to?

What do these items tell us about the possible owner?

After discussing the contents of the briefcase, I will have the students write a short story about the mystery of the unknown briefcase.  Who owns the briefcase?  How was it lost?  Why were those items in the briefcase?


Lesson Project

45 minutes

I will introduce the novel we will be reading "Shakespeare's Secret" by Elise Broach, and let them know that they get to use their best detective skills.  I will also pass out the magnifying glasses for effect.  (I may regret that later.  I'll let you know how it goes.)  Hopefully that won't be too much of a distraction.  Each student will also receive another copy of the Detective Academy Handbook to organize their thought and ideas with the novel.  

We will then begin reading the novel.  I am going to tackle this novel "Book Club Style."  That's what I like to call it.  For this novel (Being our first novel of the year) we will read together as a class, and then we have "book club" discussion groups where they will discuss and analyze what they have read.  Often when we do our book clubs, I let them read in their groups as well as discuss.  I like to have parent volunteers come in and take charge of a group.  The parents love to help with book club groups.  I am careful to assign groups making sure there is a strong leader in each group.  One who can take charge and lead a discussion.  Of course I assign that role to different students each day, but it helps to have someone there who can keep the group on track even if they aren't necessarily "in charge."  I also like to keep my struggling readers balanced between two group that also contain some strong readers.  The strong readers can help the struggling readers.  I bounce between those two groups to assist as well.  I check on the other groups, but for the most part, they are able to work independently.

We will read to chapter 5 together and then I will assign them to read chapters 5,6, and 7 on their own.  This edition of the novel published through scholastic has great discussion questions which we will discuss tomorrow after having read through chapter 7. 


Broach, E. (2005). Shakespeare's Secret. New York, NY : Scholastic Inc.


Lesson Closer

5 minutes

Detective Academy Debriefing:

Detectives will review the parts of a mystery.  Which parts have we seen so far in the novel?  I will let them know that we will begin on chapter 8 tomorrow, so be sure to read tonight and be ready for discussion tomorrow.  (Study up on the case) :)