Saturday, February 11, 2012

'Who is the Dead Person?" Historical Investigation Lesson Plan

When social studies teachers teach history, they have 2 options: the normal way and the not-so normal way.  Of course, it is easiest to cover it the normal way... By having students take notes, listen to a lecture, and watch movies.  But last November, I worked with our media specialist at SMMS to create a lesson unlike any I've ever done before.


A MURDER INVESTIGATION!

When students came in, they saw this outline of a body on the floor.  
There was a small sign sitting in the outline that read 
"CRIME SCENE: DO NOT CROSS"

The only fact that students had about the victim was that 
he/she was an important figure related to one of the World Wars. (I don't want to go into too much detail because some of my students read this blog and it might give away the answer!  If you would like more details, please feel free to email me: obertopia@gmail.com )

All my students work in Learning Teams (see my post about learning teams here).  In each of my 4 classes, I have 8 teams of 4 students each.  Each team received an almanac and a folder of clues.  They had 5 minutes with each set of clues.  Once the timer (always have a timer) went off, they passed the folders and received a new one.  Eventually, they saw 8 folders of clues.  As a ticket-out-the-door, they had to tell me who the victim was, how they were killed, why they were killed, and what happened as a result of their death.  

This was the only day in my 5 years of teaching that multiple students said, "Can we do this again sometime soon?"  I would call that a success!  

I couldn't have done it without Mrs. Rhonda Boggs, our great media specialist at McClure.  She gave me so many ideas for the clues when I was left dumbfounded!  Just one more reason to be nice to the librarian!  :)



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