Upon our return from Christmas vacation we will be approximately half-way through the second quarter. I plan to share my feelings of what positive gains were made during the first four weeks of the unit with the students. I will also invite them to share how they would evaluate their experience.
It has been my experience that for the first two days scheduled after vacation I will not enjoy full attendance. I plan on renewing those students present with a 2 day plan of exercises that will review the process of clustering and vignette work. The first theme will be an exercise on developing a vignette on vacation. The second theme will be an exercise on school. It will allow for freedom of self-expression and clear away any debris cluttering their mind at the time. It takes time for the students to mentally return to the demands and routine in school after vacation. Many of the students will voice they would prefer a longer vacation but are usually glad to return to see their school friends and even their teachers. Sometimes their vacation is filled with boredom and disappointment and school at least distracts them.
After full attendance has been reached (probably the third day) I will initiate Part VI of this curriculum unit. The major objective of the next four weeks will be to involve my students in developing a short story. I plan to have them each develop a murder mystery. Many of my students enjoy police television shows and love horror stories. I would like to tap their imagination and ability to draw from past experiences seen in movies or television shows in writing their own murder mystery in the form of a short story.
I plan on using the clustering process as a way to free ideas and impressions on each segment of their story. I will plan on a 20-day experience during the remainder of this second quarter. My approach of this short story will be planned out by carefully taking the students through segments involved in a short story. There will be a daily assignment presented to them to develop in writing. There will be approximately ten segments.
The first segment I will introduce is the setting. I will write a list of physical settings on the blackboard for their perusal. I will direct them to choose one setting that they feel they would be able to describe easily. I will list settings such as: city, country, town. I will then ask them to cluster images to the one setting they are focusing in on mentally. They will then be expected to write in detail everything they can associate and describe.
The second segment will be exploring the main character in this story. There will be three assignments attached to this segment. 1.) The first day of this segment I will focus their attention on choosing a detective, detective team, or private inspector. They will have to give this person a name, sex, age, personality, and describe him in great detail. 2.) The second day of this segment I will focus their attention on this detective they have created and describe who is his employer. They will have to choose the name of the agency or police department, name his supervisor, co-workers, and whether he likes his job or not. 3.) The third day of this segment the students will have to describe this detective’s past accomplishments, if any. They will have to decide whether this is his first homicide or has solved many other homicides. If this is not his first case, the student will have to give a description of his other cases that he solved in the past.
The third segment will deal with the person murdered. I will list a number of possibilities on the blackboard. Some of the suggestions will be an old man, young man, old woman, young woman, child or family. The students will have to decide who they want to be the murder victim. They will be expected to describe this character in full detail, noting the person’s name, age, sex, employment, unemployment, retirement, and social class. They will also have to describe where that person lived in full detail.
The fourth segment will deal with the murder scene. The first day will name the murder weapon. I will propose a list of possibilities such as: knife, gun, hammer, poison, or rope. The students will be limited to one choice as a murder weapon. They will have to describe fully what was the shape, size, brand, or label of pills or liquid. The second day will deal where the detective found the murder weapon and what clues were received from the weapon. I will give suggestions like: initials, fingerprints, a piece of cloth attached to the weapon, hair, or footprints. The third day will deal with a description of the murder setting. I will provide a list of possibilities such as: a bedroom, alley, parking lot, boat, basement. The students will have to choose one setting and describe it fully. The fourth day will deal with the people who were at the murder scene when the detective arrived. The students will have to describe what the scene was like and give names.
The fifth segment will deal with the witnesses who were at the scene of the murder. The first day the students will have to describe them in terms of neighbors, friends, relatives, landlord, or strangers. They will be expected to describe them in detail. The second day the students will invent the dialogue that takes place in the interview with the detective and witnesses. I will give suggestions like: how do you know this person who was murdered, where were you at the time of the murder, what do you know about this crime, did you hear anything, or did you see anyone leave the scene of the crime.
The sixth segment will deal with the suspect. The students will have to give a description of the suspect being held. They will give him a name, age, sex, race, and personal history. The second day will deal with the interview between the detective and the suspect being held in custody. I will encourage writing it in the form of a dialogue.
The seventh segment will deal with the motive. The first day will explore the detective thinking out loud trying to come up with the motive for the murder. I will give a list of possibilities. Some might be: jealousy, revenge, blackmail, getting caught in a theft for drug money. The students will have to choose one and write a dialogue. The second day will deal with the detective going to his boss and sharing the motive he has reasoned for the murder and gives all the evidence pointing to the suspect. The students will have to write another dialogue between the detective and his boss.
The eighth segment will deal with bringing the suspect to a conviction in court. The students will have to describe what went on in the courtroom and share the sentencing in writing.
The ninth segment will deal with the detective’s feeling of bringing another murder to justice.
The tenth segment will be taking all these parts written and bringing them together as a whole work. I will assist them by proofreading and giving suggestions for a better organization of parts if need be.