Teacher's Page

WhoDunit?

A Mystery Web Quest for 6th Grade Language Arts

Designed by

Rebekah Ellis
rgranger7@yahoo.com

Introduction | Learners | Curriculum Standards | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits


Introduction

This lesson was developed as part of a gifted curriculum unit on mystery and forensics. It was developed during my graduate studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Masters in Gifted Education.

This lesson is designed to provide background knowledge of the mystery genre, prominent authors, and their sleuths. This lesson is the starting point and foundation for a language arts and science unit on mystery and detection, and forensics/crime solving.

The Understandings desired are for the students to:

  • Participate in realistic deductive problem solving.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of the history of the mystery genre.
  • Learn how to use the problem solving method that detectives use in crime solving.
  • Learn where to locate and how to use research methods and tools.
  • Know biographical information of famous mystery authors, and the reasoning behind their detective characters and their fictional works.
  • Gain background knowledge of mystery genre, authors, and famous sleuths.

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Learners

This lesson is anchored in sixth grade language arts and involves science to a lesser extent. The lesson can easily be extended to additional grades and subjects, especially the forensic sciences.

The learners will not need to have an extensive background knowledge in order to complete this Web Quest, as it is used as an introduction into the mystery genre. This Web Quest was designed to entice the students into learning the background knowledge of the famous mystery authors and their sleuths, without having to memorize boring facts.

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Curriculum Standards

What will students learn as a result of this lesson? Describe the outcomes succinctly. Use the language of existing standards. For example:

  • Key Skills :
    • Creative Problem Solving
    • Research skills and tools
    • Analyzing
    • Synthesizing
    • Analytical and deductive reasoning
      Decision making
    • Creative writing
    • Effective argumentation
    • Critical reading skills
  •  

  • This WebQuest specifically teaches an array of thinking skills, including, Inductive and Deductive reasoning, Inference-making, Critical thinking, Creative thinking, Creative production, Creative problem-solving, Research, Observation, Categorization, Comparison, Teamwork, Compromise, Brainstorming, Classifying, Prediction, Hypothesizing, Analyzing, Synthesizing, Decision Making, Recalling information, Applying past knowledge to new situations, Sequencing, Identifying attributes, Drawing conclusions, Identifying cause and effect, Interpreting, Making analogies, Making inferences, Locating biases and making judgments,Determining cause and effect, Summarizing, Formulating questions, Identifying points of view, Determining relevance, Judging essential and incidental evidence, Identifying missing information, Detecting inconsistencies in an argument, Fluent thinking, Flexible thinking, and Attribute listing.

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Process

Procedures:

  • You will be working in groups of 3-4, so the first order of business is to pick your detective teams. (see grouping below)
  • As a group, you will research each suspectís (mystery author) life, characters, and novels.
    Begin with a timeline overview that ALL detectives in the group should read the MysteryNet.com history timeline.
  • Become an expert on one or two authors (depending on how the group chooses to divide the tasks).
    • Ask yourself the following questions:
    • Who are the prominent authors of the mystery genre?
    • What research tools will help you to gather clues and facts about each author and his/her past?
    • How will you organize the clues, important facts, interesting information, etc. that you collect?
    • Go to Organization Techniques for suggestions on organizing your data.

     

  • After data is collected, each expert will share with the group all data, facts, and information gathered.
  • As a group, you will then analyze the data and begin the process of eliminating suspects who do not meet all the criteria of the profile set forth in the case.
    • Ask yourself the following questions:
    • Which authors match the criteria of the criminal in question?
    • What characteristics and past experiences/situations cause these famous authors to fit the profile? What are their motives?
    • Is the criminal author leading me astray with red herrings?

     

  • ATTENTION junior sleuths, my assistant has just informed me of
  • Interviews that need to be conducted.
  • Continue eliminating suspects and narrowing down to a few key suspects.
    • Ask yourself:

    Which of the suspects has a motive?

    Who may be lying?

  • ATTENTION junior sleuths, my assistant has just informed me of
  • new clues that were recently discovered.
  • Continue eliminating suspects and narrowing down to a few key suspects.
    • Ask yourself:

    Is there a suspect or two that I ruled out too early and may need to reconsider?

  • ATTENTION junior sleuths, my assistant has just informed me of
  • new clues that were recently discovered.
  • After analyzing this new information, begin the final selection of the criminal suspect.
    • Ask yourself:
    • Does the accused suspect have a motive and meet all aspects of the criminal profile?
  • AH, my faithful friends, there has been a new discovery in the case, we must consider all evidence before we make our accusation. Quickly to the crime lab.
  • Begin to synthesize all information into a hypothesis, complete with suspect, location, and weapon.
    • Ask yourself:
    • How will I establish my prosecution argument?
    • What will I base my case on? What will I use to convince the jury of the accused authorís guilt?

     

  1. Then, formulate your prosecution statement to convince the jury, consisting of your detective peers, of your teamís conclusion.
  2. You must publish your work to the class webpage. The product should include a well-stated reason of why the criminal is guilty; including motive, method, weapon, and crime location.
  3. As a group, you will then choose how to present your replay of the crime. Examples could be a reenactment movie, a PowerPoint presentation, art drawings, a story, etc.
    • Ask yourself:
    • Can I replay the crime? How will I choose to present my replay of the crime?
  4.  

  5. Each individual detective will post a brief synopsis of the research process to the website. It should consists of steps taken in: analyzing all suspects and data, process of eliminating red herrings and suspects that did not meet all criteria of criminal profile, and synthesizing to form the hypothesis and solution. This must also be published to the class website.

The lesson can be taught in a period of 1-3 days, more or less depending on time allotted. If covered in more than one period per day, it will take less days to accomplish. On average, it should take no more than 4 days. The lesson is interdisciplinary, covering science and language arts.

Students should be divided into groups of 3-5 students, depending on the number of students in the class and access to computers and the Internet. The groups should be as equal in ability range as possible. (i.e. each group should have both high achievers and low achievers, leaders and followers, etc.)

A few stumbling blocks may be:

  • Students are unaware of the problem solving process,
  • Students have not been pre exposed to the mystery genre,
  • Some mystery topics may be controversial (i.e. gruesome murders, etc.). Careful selection of age appropriate material will avoid this stumbling block.
  • A few definitions of mystery language may need to be provided.

This lesson is very easy and self explanatory, ideal for a novice teacher. This is a clever way of introducing background knowledge into a fun and exciting curriculum of mystery and forensics. The teacher should have knowledge of Internet research tools, the mystery genre, famous authors and their sleuths, and the problem solving process.

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Resources Needed

  • Class webpage (or other way of posting results so that all students may view them)
  • Internet Connection
  • At least 4-5 computers (depending on how many students per group)
  • This WebQuest requires only one teacher, but aides and parents would help to supervise and guide group progress and navigate Internet research.
  • The following websites:

Earl Derr Biggers :

Leslie Charteris http://www.saint.org/lcbio.htm

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=1860

http://directory.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/Authors/C/Charteris,_Leslie/

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/charteri.htm

http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/leslie_charteris.htm

http://www.btinternet.com/~therogermooreyears/lesliecharteris.html

http://www.biblion.com/litweb/biogs/charteris_leslie.html

http://dmoz.org/Arts/Literature/Authors/C/Charteris,_Leslie/

http://users.hunterlink.net.au/~lmcvd/saint/whois.htm

http://dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/Literature/Authors/Mystery/Charteris__Leslie/

Agatha Christie http://members.aol.com/MG4273/chris1.htm

http://www.angelfire.com/fl/christianx/page14.html

http://www.online-literature.com/agatha_christie/

http://www.simnet.is/jonasson/agatha/

http://top-biography.com/9045-Agatha%20Christie/

http://www.agathachristie.com/essentials/bio.shtml

http://www.agathachristie.com/

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/christie.htm

http://www.netsrq.com/~dbois/christie.html

http://fly.cc.fer.hr/~shlede/my/agatha.html

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kschwart/death/authors/christiea.html

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kschwart/death/authors/christiea.html

http://members.lycos.co.uk/Agaweb/Agaweb.html

http://fly.cc.fer.hr/~shlede/my/bio.html

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=1879

http://users.aber.ac.uk/jgs/ag4.html

http://users.aber.ac.uk/jgs/links.htm

http://www.bol.ucla.edu/~ryoder/mystery/christie.html

http://www.who2.com/agathachristie.html

http://www.underthesun.cc/Classics/Doyle/

http://www.online-literature.com/doyle/

http://www.buffalobiz.com/doyle.htm

http://www.ash-tree.bc.ca/acdsocy.html

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/acdoyle.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jconan.htm

http://dmoz.org/Arts/Literature/Authors/D/Doyle,_Arthur_Conan/

http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/jsp/db/author.jsp?authorId=15

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=2077

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=23053

http://www.classicreader.com/author.php/aut.19/

http://www.slainte.org.uk/Scotauth/doyledsw.htm

http://members.aol.com/MG4273/doyleera.htm#Doyle

http://www.ebs.hw.ac.uk/EDC/edinburghers/arthur-conan-doyle.html

http://www.acdfriends.org/

http://directory.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/Authors/D/Doyle,_Arthur_Conan/

http://www.linkstoliterature.com/doyle.htm

http://www.sherlockian.net/acd/

http://www.siracd.com/life.shtml

http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/

http://top-biography.com/9065-Sir%20Arthur%20Conan%20Doyle/

http://fl.essortment.com/detectivestorie_rlow.htm

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kschwart/death/authors/doyle.html

http://www.siracd.com/index.shtml

http://www.litgothic.com/Authors/doyle.html

http://www.accd.edu/sac/english/bailey/doyle.htm

Ellery Queen http://www.mysterynet.com/books/testimony/0003.shtml

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=14051

http://neptune.spaceports.com/~queen/Whodunit_1.html

http://meltingpot.fortunecity.com/kirkland/266/eq/eqnovs.htm

http://www.mindspring.com/~mkoldys/index.htm

http://directory.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/Genres/Mystery/Authors/Q/Queen,_Ellery/

http://dmoz.org/Arts/Literature/Genres/Mystery/Authors/Q/Queen,_Ellery/

http://members.aol.com/MG4273/queen1.htm

http://www.tvacres.com/nick_e.htm

http://www.themysteryplace.com/eqmm/about/history.shtml

http://dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/Literature/Authors/Mystery/Queen__Ellery/

Erle Stanley Gardner http://www.grooviespad.com/esg/links/Links.htm

http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/gardner.html

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=15028

http://www.erlestanleygardner.com/

http://www.grooviespad.com/esg/index.htm

http://members.aol.com/mg4273/gardner.htm

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/gardner.htm

http://www.cwru.edu/artsci/engl/marling/hardboiled/Gardner.HTM

http://www.ncsu.edu/encore/erle.html

http://www.erlestanleygardner.com/nolan1.htm

Dashiell Hammetthttp://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/hammett_d.html

http://www.vintagelibrary.com/pd.cfm?pcode=dvd006

http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/hammett.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A507016

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=15513

http://www.angelfire.com/sd/kreelah/hammett.html

http://www.transki.freeserve.co.uk/index.htm#

http://www.vintagelibrary.com/books/hammett/bio.cfm

http://www.hycyber.com/MYST/hammett_dashiell.html

http://www.booksfactory.com/writers/hammett.htm

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/dhammett.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhammett.htm

http://www.bastulli.com/Hammett/Hammett.htm

http://www.cwru.edu/artsci/engl/marling/hardboiled/Hammett.HTM

http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/read/blacklizard/hammett.html

http://www.linkstoliterature.com/hammett.htm

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/shammett.htm

http://www.counterpointpress.com/1582430810.html

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/12676

http://members.aol.com/MG4273/hammett.htm

Carolyn Keenehttp://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1999/10/08/keene_q_a/

http://www.ga.k12.pa.us/Summer/OnLineBookclub/Emily/indexemily.html

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=16441

http://books.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4424275,00.html

http://www3.sympatico.ca/alanbrown/Kids/Biographies/Carolyn_M_Keene.html

http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/Bai/lapin.htm

http://www.herinteractive.com/corp/press/benson.shtml

http://www.studentpilot.com/articles/aviation_articles/article.php?aviation_id=13

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/525/92770

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mildred_Benson

http://www.freep.com/news/obituaries/benson30_20020530.htm

http://www.goodbyemag.com/apr02/benson.html

http://desmoinesregister.com/extras/iowans/benson.html

http://desmoinesregister.com/extras/iowans/benson.html

http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/Bai/benson.htm

http://writetools.com/women/stories/benson_mildred.html

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/oversikt?Kategori=COLUMNIST01

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/05/30/Worldandnation/Nancy_Drew_s_author_d.shtml

http://www.stratemeyer.net/stratemeyer/ghostwriters/benson/mildred.htm

http://publishing.about.com/library/weekly/aa052902a.htm

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/yw/2002/03/30/stories/2002033000130300.htm

http://www.nancydrewsleuth.com/mildredwirtbenson.html

http://www.iowalum.com/webmagazine/ghostwriter.html

Edgar Allan Poe http://newark.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/poesites.html#A

http://docsouth.unc.edu/poe/about.html

http://www.underthesun.cc/Classics/Poe/

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/poe_e.html

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=18484

http://dcls.org/x/archives/poe.html

http://www.eapoe.org/

http://www.easylit.com/poe/

http://www.empirezine.com/spotlight/poe/poe1.htm

http://www.online-literature.com/poe/

http://www.pambytes.com/poe/poe.html

http://www.pambytes.com/poe/poe.html

http://www.topicsites.com/edgar-allan-poe/

http://www.nagasaki-gaigo.ac.jp/ishikawa/amlit/p/poe19ro.htm

http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/poeaudio/

http://www.nadn.navy.mil/EnglishDept/poeperplex/alcoholp.htm

http://www.heise.de/ix/raven/Literature/Authors/poe/life.html

http://www.poemuseum.org/

http://www.nps.gov/edal/overview.htm

http://www.webterrace.com/poe/

http://www.astin-poe.com/poe.html

http://www.comnet.ca/~forrest/

http://members.aol.com/MG4273/poe.htm

http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap3/poe.html

http://www.allpoe.com/

http://www.poemuseum.org/poes_life/

http://www.poedecoder.com/PreciselyPoe/

http://www.poedecoder.com/Qrisse/

http://www.members.tripod.com/RGBJR/bio.html

http://www.poedecoder.com/

http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/4220/poe.html

http://www.nadn.navy.mil/EnglishDept/poeperplex/thepoepe.htm

Dorothy L. Sayershttp://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=3260

http://www.manotick.org/stjames/Archival%20pages/dorothy%20sayers.htm

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/19.html

http://www.religion-online.org/cgi-bin/relsearchd.dll/showarticle?item_id=1267

http://www.bol.ucla.edu/~ryoder/mystery/sayers-bio.html

http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/dlsayers.htm

http://www.ipfw.edu/casa/c217/notes4.html

http://www.atla.com/catla/meeting/sayers.htm

http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html

http://www.linkstoliterature.com/sayers.htm

http://www.memoriapress.com/articles/sayers/sayers1.html

http://members.aol.com/MG4273/sayers.htm#Sayers

http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/sayers/

http://www.sayers.org.uk/

http://www.who2.com/dorothysayers.html

  • Books that may be helpful:

    Flack, J. D. (1990). Mystery and detection: Thinking and problem solving with the sleuths. Englewood, Co: Teacher Ideas Press.

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Evaluation

Beginning

1

Developing

2

Accomplished

3

Exemplary

4

Score

Written Argument Paper

All parts present (Intro, 3 body paragraphs, and conclusion)

Less than 2 parts present
2-3 parts present
4-5 parts present
5 or more paragraphs present

Logical Cohesiveness

Content has no relevance or flow
Content has some flow, but is choppy
Content has flow and relevance
Content has flow, logical order and relevance

Spelling

More than 5 errors
3-4 errors
1-2 errors
No errors

Grammar

More than 5 errors
3-4 errors
1-2 errors
No errors

Style

No definite style
Style is plain and unoriginal
Style is original and unique
Style is creative, original, and unique

Length 1 page or less 2 pages 3 pages 4 or more pages  
Typing (spacing, margins, font size, etc.) Obvious formatting of font size, margins, and spacing to extend length. 2 errors (either margins, spacing, or font size) 1 typing/formatting error No typing and formatting errors  
Content Writing is extremely limited in communicating knowledge. No points to support your argument, no evidence, no motive Writing is limited in communicating knowledge. Only a few points support your argument, and no evidence or no motive. Writing includes 3-4 related quality paragraphs. Your argument is convincing, most evidence is supported. Motive is established. Writing is confident, strong, and well documented and supported. All questions are answered, motive is clearly established.  
Presentation No creativity, low interest Some creativity, some interest Creative and interesting Very creative, high interest, unique, complete presentation  
Support of Conclusions (show deduction process) No support of conclusions or deduction process Some support of conclusions, no deduction process Support of conclusions, states deduction process Support of conclusions, obvious steps of deduction process, clearly stated  
Replay of Crime
Total:
 
Content No replay of crime Replay of crime not presented fully detailed, unclear explanation, no chronological order Replay of crime presented fully, explanation of clues, no chronological order Replay of crime presented wholly and detailed, including an explanation of all clues and motives in chronological order  
Presentation No creativity, low interest Some creativity, some interest Creative and interesting Very creative, high interest, unique, complete presentation  
Synopsis of Procedures
Total:
 
Content Synopsis of research process is unclear, no sequence, steps of analysis and synthesis are absent or not clearly defined Synopsis of research process is clearly written, little or no sequence shown, some steps are missing Clear and sequential synopsis of research process, most steps taken in analyzing and eliminating process are present, no details of analysis and synthesis process to form hypothesis and solution Clear and sequential synopsis of research process: steps taken in analyzing all suspects and data, process of eliminating red herrings and suspects that did not meet criteria of profile, and synthesizing to form the hypothesis and solution  
Group Participation
Total:
 
Behavior Showed lack of focus, concentration, and social skills, no motivation, and a negative attitude Displayed partial focus and concentration, low social skills, low motivation, and a negative attitude Exhibited a clear focus and concentration, moderate social skills, motivation, and a mediocre attitude Demonstrated a clear focus and concentration, leadership skills, great social skills, high motivation, and a positive attitude  
Contribution No contribution to group Limited contribution to group, no input, and slight discussion effort Contributed to group, much input, and moderate discussion effort Constant contribution to group; input of ideas, analysis, and synthesis; involved in every process; and full discussion effort  
Total:
 
Total Score:
 

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Conclusion

Mysteries provide a social and historical perspective of the times in which they are set or have been written. Mystery stories also reinforce fundamental values which are left out in most of today's entertainment world. The first of these values is inviolate: goodness triumphs over evil; the second is that brains always prevail over brawn; and finally, the sanctity of human life is upheld. As previoiusly stated, mystery and detection are perfect for teaching a number of thinking skills, research methods and tools, and the problem solving process. The mystery genre is perfect for interdisciplinary studies covering everything from literature, philosophy, criminology, science, law, medicine, sociology, and psychology.

The mystery genre provides mental challenges and reading enjoyment for all students, especially the high achievers. It is the beginning point for inquiry. It is used as a catalyst to spark student interests in the much larger and real mysteries of life and the universe, as well as enables them with the sleuthing skills required to unravel them.

In order to prepare students for the mystery genre, a certain amount of depth is required to establish background knowledge of the mystery greats and their authors. This lesson is designed to start the students on their way to becoming real detectives and crime scene investigators.

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Credits & References

Music and magnifying glass background:

Susan Seagraves: http://www.geocities.com/sseagraves/whodunnit.htm

Books:

Flack, J. D. (1990). Mysteries and detection: Thinking and problem solving with the sleuths. Englewood, CO: Teacher Ideas Press.

Author Pictures:

Poe: http://www.online-literature.com/poe/

Doyle: http://www.slainte.org.uk/Scotauth/doyledsw.htm

Christie: http://users.aber.ac.uk/jgs/links.htm

Sayers: http://www.manotick.org/stjames/Archival%20pages/dorothy%20sayers.htm

Queen: http://neptune.spaceports.com/~queen/Whodunit_1.html

Hammett: http://www.vintagelibrary.com/pd.cfm?pcode=dvd006

Keene: http://desmoinesregister.com/extras/iowans/benson.html

Biggers: http://charliechanfamily.tripod.com/thecharliechanfamilyhome/id74.html

Gardner: http://www.erlestanleygardner.com/http://www.erlestanleygardner.com/

Charteris: http://www.saint.org/lcbio.htmhttp://www.saint.org/lcbio.htm

 

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Last updated on August 15, 1999. Based on a template from The Web Quest Page