Mystery in the Classroom

NGC 1300 from Hubble Telescope

Today I shared with some of my colleagues the mystery lesson strategy. I really like this lesson strategy because I love solving puzzles with clues. I first found out about the strategy while taking my gifted endorsement class, which used the book The Strategic Teacher. (By the way, I highly recommend this book. It’s filled with lots of great teaching strategies and examples.)

One of my mystery lessons is entitled “Where are we?” It is a lesson to help my students discover where we are in the galaxy and where our galaxy is located in relationship to the other galaxies around us. I set the stage by introducing my students to Bob, a lost alien from planet Rivendom. He crashed on Earth, and his navigation systems are damaged. He knows where his planet is, but he doesn’t know where we are. I then ask students to share what they know about where we are in the solar system and galaxy. Next, I give my students a set of clues. They work together in cooperative groups and use the information to help solve the mystery of where we are in the galaxy.

To show their understanding, I have my students write a blog post – The Lost Alien’s Guide to the Galaxy. These are always very fun to read. However, any type of product (written, oral, visual) could be used for students to show their solution to the mystery.

As you work through a mystery lesson, you do not have to give students clue strips. You could provide them with texts to analyze, give them charts, graphs, and pictures, or you could complete a series of investigations in order to solve the mystery. Really, the possibilities are endless.

If you’d like more information, you can check out the attachments below:

Have you ever done a mystery lesson in your classroom? Please share!

(PS: I’ll be teaching this mystery lesson next week, so I should have fun student blog posts to share soon.)

By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.

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