This lesson came from a teachers pay teachers activity that I purchased and modified. It was intended for the upper grades, but it was perfect for my kids. It would be completely easy to re-create with information from your school. The activity reviewed primary and secondary sources, brought in the reading skills for multiple accounts, evidence to support opinions, making inferences, vocabulary, and so much more. It was completely worth the money because the author gives you the word documents to make all of the changes. I did create some of my own things and I'll be happy to share those. I pulled in my 4th grade teachers to help make the investigation meaningful. One of them "kidnapped" a student teacher that was apparently spending too much time with her best friend. We had witness testimonies about the suspects and their whereabouts the morning of the disappearance, pictures of the crime scene, foot prints, hair samples, news footage (which really made the secondary source meaningful), and fingerprints. It did take a bit of pre-planning, but my kids LOVED it. They had so much fun pulling all of their reading skills together, so it was worth every bit of work.
Our next adventure in multiple perspectives is a crime scene investigation. Mia thought you might like this activity to keep hitting that strong evidence standard and to work on our inferencing skills. One of those sweet, newbie student teachers went missing and it's up to you to figure out where she may be. You know how easily they get lost...
First, you will receive a series of documents. You'll get crime scene reports, witness statements, crime scene photos, and all kinds of materials to figure out this case. These will all need to be placed securely in your notebooks, as they are ridiculously important. Then, we will work in teams to investigate the disappearance of the student teacher. I will check in with the whole class every so often to keep you on track. It is essential that you read and record observations carefully in order to solve this crime. This will take us two days to complete a thorough investigation. Hopefully, by tomorrow we'll have an answer.
Before we get started, we need to review a few important vocabulary words. What do you remember about primary and secondary sources? Take a minute to talk it over with your table partners. Then we'll share your ideas.
To review, we'll be doing a primary and secondary sort with a SMART board feature. The kids will drag the source into the vortex. If it's correct, the source is taken, if it's wrong, then it's spit back out. Here's a great resource if your kids need a bit more background. We used this lesson in social studies at the beginning of the year, so I won't need much instruction here today. We also reviewed it in the court case lessons earlier in this unit. I like to provide lots of experiences for the kids to apply their skills, especially at the end of the year when they can pull so many together. I think of my first two units as building the foundation, and then start to move into the application phase for the rest of the year. The kids are much more responsible and able to complete these tasks.
If your crime scene report, suspect information and the witness statements are glued into your notebooks, you may start working with your teams to read the information and annotate for the following:
- Place a check mark by anything that sounds like valid information
- place an X by anything that sounds like faulty information
- write any notes of thoughts you have while reading
While the kids are reading, I'll just be moving around to see how they are doing. I will not be helping at all over the next two days. The kids have to reply on their skills to try to pick the correct suspect. This is always the hardest time because my nature to jump in and help kicks in, and I have to hold back. One thing that usually gets the kids is that all of the suspects were wearing similar clothes (uniforms) on the day of the kidnapping. That's usually where I find the kids making a mistake.
In our next lesson, you'll get your crime scene evidence and start using your skills to put all the pieces together. If you want to take this home to reread tonight, that may be a good idea to make sure you have your facts straight. You won't have much time to revisit the material as there are lots of new pieces to review. We usually share about our reading, but today, I want you to just take a quick moment to think to yourself about what you've learned. I don't want anyone's thoughts to skew opinions. If a friend in another group thinks something different than you, bias made be created and you may want to change your mind.