WhoDunit?

A Mystery WebQuest for 6th Grade Language Arts

Designed by

Rebekah Ellis
rgranger7@yahoo.com

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page


Introduction

Welcome junior sleuths, you have all been invited to Scotland Yard to aid in an unsolved case. So far, this criminal mastermind has eluded our best authorities. The facts of the case are as follows: The Crime took place during the Famous Mystery Authors Convention, the murder was committed around eleven o'clock in the evening last night. Here are the few other clues we have gathered:

  • Victim is Frederick Dannay
  • A suicide note was found next to the victim’s body, but the Chief Inspector believes that this is a homicide.
  • The paper the note is written on is rare and can only be found in a small boutique in England.
  • The letter reads:
If you determine to abandon me—
Here I take my farewell—
Neglected.
  • The note smelled of alcohol, but no alcohol was found in Dannay’s blood.
  • The murder weapon was found next to the victim’s body, it was a hospital scalpel.

We do not know much more than what we have just told you. It is now your case should you choose to accept it. We suspect from the clues that we have gathered that the murderer is one of the suspects listed below.

Hurry sleuths, for the game is afoot!

Through this WebQuest you will:

  • Conduct research, use deductive and inductive reasoning skills, and participate in realistic problem solving using the methods and tools of real criminologists and detectives.
  • Learn how to use the problem solving method that detectives use in crime solving while developing a thorough understanding of the history of the mystery genre.
  • Learn where to locate and how to use Internet research methods and tools.
  • Gain background knowledge and biographical information of famous mystery authors, sleuths, and the mystery genre.

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The Task: Your Case

In order to solve this case, you will work with your fellow detectives in teams to research the suspects, analyze the clues, develop hypotheses, test your theories, and solve the crime. Your team must then (1) prove your solution to your fellow detectives by composing a persuasive argument, supported by your research, thoroughly explaining every detail and piece of evidence, the motive, and the chronological events of the crime. You will also (2) formulate a unique way to present your replay of the crime. Finally, you will (3) write, individually, a brief synopsis of your detective procedures. The team’s research-based argument and each individual’s brief synopsis of procedures will be posted to the class website for critique by your fellow junior detectives.

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The Process

  1. You will be working in groups of 3-4, so the first order of business is to pick your detective teams.
  2. As a group, you will research each suspect’s (mystery author) life, characters, and novels.
    Begin with a timeline overview that ALL detectives in the group should read the MysteryNet.com history timeline.
  3. 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.

    Your Suspects

    Edgar Allan Poe

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Dame Agatha Christie

    Dorothy L. Sayers

    "Ellery Queen"

    Dashiell Hammett

    Earl Derr Biggers

    Erle Stanley Gardner

    Leslie Charteris

    "Carolyn Keene"
  4. After data is collected, each expert will share with the group all data, facts, and information gathered.
  5. 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?
  6.  

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

    Which of the suspects has a motive?

    Who may be lying?

  9. ATTENTION junior sleuths, my assistant has just informed me of new clues that were recently discovered.
  10. 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?

  11. ATTENTION junior sleuths, my assistant has just informed me of new clues that were recently discovered.
  12. 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?
  13. 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.
  14. 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 author’s guilt?

     

  1. Then, formulate your prosecution statement to convince the jury, consisting of your detective peers, of your team’s 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.

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Evaluation

Describe to the learners how their performance will be evaluated. Specify whether there will be a common grade for group work vs. individual grades.

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

Congratulations sleuths! You are now master detectives as you have conducted research, used deductive and inductive reasoning skills, and solved a realistic crime mystery using the methods and tools of real criminologists and detectives.

You also experienced the problem solving method that detectives use in crime solving while developing a thorough understanding of the history of the mystery genre. You learned where to locate and how to use Internet research methods and tools, and you are now experts on the biographical information of famous mystery authors, sleuths, and the mystery genre.
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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