Spotlight on mysteries: Using Storia to get kids solving clues!
By Guest Blogger on November 26th, 2012
Laura Murray is back with more great Storia ideas! She’s a fourth grade teacher in Paramus, New Jersey, who first showed us a parent’s peek into Storia, followed by a piece on the “notes” and “highlights” functionality of Storia. Now, she’s talking mysteries! Grab your flashlight (and your ereader) and join her!
As adult readers, we know when we pick up a book what we expect to find in it and where we expect to find it. For example, if we pick up a fiction book we know there will be a character introduced at the beginning, they will have a problem, and then it will be solved in some way at the end. We also know that if we pick up a nonfiction book it will give us factual information, we don’t have to read it in order from cover to cover, and we can quickly search for needed information using a table of contents, index, or headings within the text. We take this knowledge for granted and expect that children will automatically know these things as well. Not true!
Children need to be taught the structure of different genres and how to navigate through reading and thinking about them. Let’s focus on the mystery genre. Mystery is a difficult genre for students because there is so much to track while reading. There is a detective, a client, a problem, suspects, red herrings, clues, motives, and false clues. That is a lot to list, let alone try to organize! So, here are some questions that you can discuss with your child as they read a mystery book. These questions will also help your child decide what they should be putting on their virtual sticky notes when using Storia. They can also use the highlighter feature to highlight some of these mystery components. Hopefully these questions will help lead you in a discussion with your child to deepen their understanding of the text.
What Good Readers Think and Talk About When Reading a Mystery
In the beginning…
- Who is the client? Who has the problem?
- Who is the detective? Who is solving the problem?
- What is the crime? What is missing or what wrong has been done?
In the middle…
- Who are possible suspects? Who are secondary characters?
- What are the suspects’ possible motives? “(Name of suspect) might have (name the crime) because (possible reason).”
- What might the suspects need or want?
- What are some clues that may help solve the problem? What unusual items/events do you notice?
- What are some clues that may help solve the problem? What do you notice that is missing or in the wrong place?
- Who might be a red herring? Why? “I don’t think (name of suspect) did (the crime) because (reason).”
- Why might a clue be false? “I don’t think (false clue) really matters because (reason).”
In the end…
- Read the solution and see if you were correct.
- If you were not correct, reread the parts of the book that might have confused you.
I often find that having students read a mystery on a lower level than their independent reading level is a good starting point until they get used to reading the mystery genre. So, depending on how your child’s school places them on a reading level, try to find books a level or two below their independent reading level to test out the mystery unit. You can find books on an appropriate level for your child by using Book Wizard.
I hope you feel a bit more “clued in” about how to help your child navigate through the mystery genre. It is one of my favorite genres to read, and I think they will love it too!
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