Last week I wrote a post explaining 'What are Once Upon a Crime Reading Mysteries?' In this post, I aim to give you some implementation ideas and suggestions for using these reading mystery resources in your classroom.
1. Decide whether you want to use the video hook as an introduction to the reading mystery activity.
The Reading Mystery - Once Upon a Crime™ resources come with a video hook. If you decide that you would like to use this to gain your students' attention, have it ready to press 'play' before beginning the reading component found on Page 4 of the PDF resource file.
Another option would be to show your students the video in advance to the task to build up some curiosity to what they will be doing next lesson.
If you are setting these up as a reading center activity, I recommend using a tablet to show the video at the station.
2. Decide whether you want your students to work on this independently, in pairs, or as a whole class.
Deciding whether to give a reading mystery as an independent task or not, depends on which grade level you will be doing the reading mystery with and their current reading levels. For higher grades, I recommend independent work. For 2nd grade or early 3rd grade, I recommend pairs.
i) Independent work
Strategically partner students that will be able to support struggling readers. Otherwise, you may need to set up a small group to work with for kids who find the task too challenging. In the classroom, I like to set up a small guidance group for students to visit if they need help.
Similar to the independent work suggestions above, you may wish to give the whole mystery in one booklet for students to complete at their own pace, or maybe make it a race! Otherwise, pace the class clue by clue, so no one will be able to give away the 'who' at the end.
iii) Whole class
If the majority of your students find the reading mystery too difficult, or it's the their first time, try working through it as a whole class with your guidance along the way. To do this, read through the passages together first. Then work on answering the questions as a class. If you have an Interactive White Board, place the page on the board for everyone to see. Invite students to highlight the evidence in the text on the board.
After discovering each clue, discuss what it means for the elimination process. Being able to comprehend the clue is an important part to correctly identifying which characters to cross off the list. A class discussion will help if your students struggle with this part.
3. Decide whether to use as part of your Reading/ELA class sessions, homework tasks, early finisher tasks, or the sub tub!
The Reading Mystery - Once Upon a Crime™ resources are a useful tool to use as part of your reading and ELA classroom sessions. However, they can easily be tasked as a homework activity, an early finisher project, or for the sub-tub. Because the prep only requires printing and photocopying, reading mysteries make for an easy and engaging go-to activity when time is short and kids need something different and exciting.
i) Use for Reading/ELA Class Sessions
Read in the number 2. section of this post for implementation ideas for this option.
Form as a booklet and set as a weekly assignment for your students to work on. If you don't want students to go through it as fast, set one clue per week. At the end of the five clues, students receive the 'Possible Suspects' list to carry out the elimination process at home or in class.
iii) Early-Finisher Task
Especially if your students have done this activity once, it is easy to give them future Once Upon a Crime Reading Mysteries to do independently since the structure is relatively consistent throughout the series. Have copies printed and stapled for students to keep and work on whenever they finish other work early.
Since the only prep Once Upon a Crime Reading Mysteries require is printing and photocopying, a sub will be pleased to find an activity that is fun, educational, and easy to set up in a short time's notice. If you're sick or need time off, have one of these Reading Mysteries ready to give to the sub instead of spending hours planning when you should be resting.
Try a Once Upon a Crime Reading Mystery today and see how it goes with your students. Feel free to contact me with any questions, or sign up to my newsletter to learn more about our resources and more. I plan to write more about using Reading Mysteries in your classroom and how to make them work best for your class, stay tuned.
Stay tuned, I'm updating all of these to have an alternative structure option in each packet that will help to differentiate these reading activities. I will write and show examples of this new resource additions soon.
A 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife.
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