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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

It’s A Mystery To Me

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/hornik/mystery/mysteryindex.htm

How it works:
Who doesn't enjoy reading and trying to solve mystery stories! In this WebQuest unit, students become both mystery readers and writers. They utilize the Internet to understand the elements of this classic genre; employ critical thinking skills when reading various stories in both print and electronic formats; form groups to solve mysteries; use Venn Diagrams and graphic organizers to compare and contrast stories; supply the ending to a Magic Mystery story starter; and write, edit, illustrate, print, and bind a book of their own mystery stories. Students can also create a board game based on a story or act out part of that story and have the class try to solve the mystery.

Standards addressed:  
Students read and comprehend books in the same genre; produce work that follows the conventions of that genre; demonstrate knowledge of story elements and a basic understanding of the rules of the English language in written work; and analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness. They participate in group meetings; use electronic media to gather information for research purposes; and use word processing and drawing applications to write and illustrate original work.

Materials used: 
Materials include computers with Internet access; "Carmen Sandiego: Jr. Detective" and "Midnight Rescue" CD-ROMs;  various mystery books (such as the Nate The Great, Encyclopedia Brown, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew series); software for word processing and painting (Microsoft Word or AppleWorks, and Kidpix); and a printer.

The students:
It’s A Mystery To Me is designed for third grade students working in a computer lab. It can be adapted for higher grades and may be done in a classroom or library setting. Students use checklists to evaluate their progress.

Overall value:
This WebQuest results in students developing a sense of pride and accomplishment as they synthesize and organize information found via Web-based research, and use their writing and word processing skills to create their own mystery stories and books while employing their art skills to illustrate those books.

For introductory purposes, use at least one online mystery as a read-aloud and one as a guided reading activity, and plan a mystery as a whole class activity (with the teacher sharing the pen) before students begin writing. Conference with each group to assess the students' progress.


Carolyn Hornik has been a New York City public school teacher for twenty five years (12 years as a classroom teacher in third, fourth, and fifth grades and 13 years as a technology coordinator.) She teaches in-service courses for the New York City Board of Education After School Professional Development Program and on-line courses for new teachers through Teachers Network.


Estimated Class Periods To Complete: 10 or more

Subject: English, Social Studies

Beginning Grade Level: 4

Ending Grade Level: 8



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