Paul E. Turtola
There are many titles of short stories, which are applicable to the teaching of this curriculum unit. Any detective mystery may be used in the following lessons, for the lesson plans are created to be both flexible and formulaic in their composition. The simple materials that are called for, and the way they are used, are easily adapted to any detective story, since the activities deal with investigative strategies for solving all types of cases.
In the lessons provided, I used two different types of puzzles. The first one is from a book called Two- Minute Mysteries by DJ School. It lays the story out in a concise and straightforward way, and gives students an opportunity to think about the details of the narrative. The need to use sensory skills and research come into play as students search for answers. The other type of puzzle I have selected deals with resourcefulness also, but is a more necessary skill in making an essential discovery in order to solve the case. In other words, the answer is cleverly spelled out for the investigator while actually mapping out the instructions given in the story. This puzzle comes from a book entitled Great Quicksolve Whodunit Puzzles by Jim Sukach. The main character, Dr. J.L. Quicksolve, is included in most of the book's chapters. His son Junior also helps out, and as the detectives uncover clues to each mystery, the reader gets an opportunity to solve the case (the answers are provided in the back of the book.).
Some of the lesson plan strategies deal with using creative ideas to gather data, review the information and make a final statement. Most of the materials provided are art supplies and library reference tools, but theatrical activities also play a vital part with creativity. The need to act out certain cases will help the "junior detectives" work out their theories and perhaps even solve the crime.
By understanding the need to be observant, students who work on their listening and watching skills by creatively engaging in fun activities, will learn a great deal about the work of the detective. They also need to process information in order to report accurately on their findings and conclusions. Included in the lessons are ideas to improve observational skills, and with the collaboration of other teachers, this objective can be successfully reached. The use of teamwork will be important to this undertaking, for it incorporates many levels of thinking in different academic areas. Using a science teacher to explain forensics, a geography teacher for map making, and even a math teacher to read a scaled diagram can be both fun and an interesting and educational way to study each case.