What's the Best Mystery Out There? Mine Own of Course!

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SWBAT write their own mystery stories.

Big Idea

Our detectives will now become author's of their own mysteries!


Lesson Opener

15 minutes

Yesterday we read "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" by Chris Van Allsburg.  The story is about a man who went to a children's book publisher with pictures to entice the publisher to publish his work. He took with him just a single picture from each of his stories and was told that his work was great and to return with the completed versions. However, the man never returned and could not be found and all that remain are the single pictures which were first taken to the publisher. 

To start the lesson out today, we will look at the illustrations again from the book to refresh our memories in order to complete our writing project today.

I will use the doc camera to put the images onto the smart board so that the details of the pictures can be seen more easily.  

"The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" by Chris Van Allsburg

Van Allsburg, C. (1984). The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. New York, NY : Houghton Mifflin  Company

Group Project

20 minutes

Once we've reviewed the pictures from the story of Harris Burdick, we will use the graphic organizer that we filled out yesterday to write a mystery together as a class.  We will talk again about the essential components of a good mystery.  We'll talk about the characters, the setting, the mystery, the plot and clues, and the resolution or how the mystery is solved. Together as a class, we will build our mystery.  I will call on students to come up with ideas to fill in the graphic organizer together as a class.  (Lack of participation is never a problem with this lesson.  They all want to have their ideas used as part of our class story.)  After we have filled in the graphic organizer, we will review the information we have on the page.  I will then have volunteers come up to the doc camera and write sections of our mystery as we put it together.  I will remind them that this is our first draft and it is ok to change parts of the story as we progress with the mystery. This modeling really helps the students understand how to start a mystery of their own.

Independent Project

30 minutes

Now it's the kids' is turn!  The students will use the graphic organizers that they filled out yesterday to compose a mystery story about one of the pictures from the book.  I will remind them that their story should contain a well thought out beginning, middle, and end.  They should also pay close attention to spelling conventions as well as the organization of the piece.  I will give the students a copy of the rubric I will be using to grade their stories so the students understand what it is I'm looking for when I grade their stories.  The students now know from our group mystery how to use the graphic organizer to compose their own mysteries.  Of course, I will walk around assisting anyone with questions or anyone who needs help getting started.  I find that composing a sample piece of writing as a class cuts down on the confusion of the assignment.  They usually understand what to do and are excited to get started.

Lesson Closer

10 minutes

After the students have been a given ample time to write their stories, we will hold our detective debriefing. I know the students will be excited to share their stories, and will be expecting to do just that. But I will let them know that I have alternate plans for their stories. Tomorrow, the detectives will get to try to solve a mystery written by a fellow classmate. After attempting to solve the mystery, we will then get to share our mysteries with each other using the Royal Reader Throne.