Sunday, November 15, 2020

Teach the Expanded Core Curriculum with a Murder Mystery Party

Graphic that features Gatsby era clipart that says Teach the Expanded Core with a Murder Mystery Party
We have new ways of teaching in today's world. This is exciting because it is empowering us to find new meaningful ways to teach the Expanded Core. My new favorite activity? A murder mystery! Yasssss, it was awesome!  Murder mystery parties are fantastic for teaching the Expanded Core because it really pushes our students to ask questions, pay attention to details and work on their problem solving skills. 
A female student reads the Braille clue
I know you are excited about this idea but are you wondering where to even start? Don't recreate the wheel on this one. We bought a murder mystery game and then went to work on infusing ECC. We bought ours from Red Herring Games. Ours was The Great Spatsby:  Yes, they have virtual games, too!!
Step one is to get the game. 
Step two: identify what you need to pre-teach. I can't stress this enough--we have to create the best conditions for learning. This often means pre-teaching so our students have an idea of what's going to happen or to plot their move. We did three pre-teach sessions. These sessions focused on The Gatsby era of US history. We focused on the "backstory" of the setting of our game. For example, we discussed the impact of the stock market crash, the Great Depression, opulence and wealth in the elite class, etc. 

a clue that is a tray with a wine bottle and two glasses
Step three: accessibility. We made sure all of our clues were tactile, Braille copies of anything in print and large print tags on things. Accessibility wasn't just having things in accessible form. We did this in a vintage hotel so the setting was spot on, the characters were in dress and character. Pretty much everything that was visual was brought to life and accessible. 

a clue that is a doctor bag with a large print label attaached to it

an image of a scene from the party where the students interview a woman dressed as a flapper who stands at a table with "the body" covered by a sheet.

Step four: characters. The characters were the essence of the party! They had to be spot on. Fortunately, Red Herring games comes with scripts which made a lot of this possible. We roped in fun people from our school including our superintendent (she's the maid) and our campus director (pictured next to her). We also included our college transition students in the fun. They worked on their part with the coaching of Frankie Ann (from Blind Ambition who blogs here on The Bee). 

A collage of six pictures featuring the six characters from the murder mystery party such as the maid, the inspector, etc
Step five: TIME. We provided support on asking good questions, how to evaluate details and facts and then provided students time to work this out as groups. Oh man, can you see all the Expanded Core skills?? They are literally ooozing out of this idea! There were so many skills that we intentionally planned/infused for. 
We ended with light refreshments and a fun social gathering as we learned from Inspector Dina Tracy (aka Robbin) who the culprit was (it was the maid!). And just in case you were wondering how we pulled this off during Covid, everyone wore masks, practiced social distance as much as possible, temp checks and lot of cleaning. Check out videos of our fun night on 9MoreThanCore on Instagram. 
By the way, this was so awesome that this is our new annual October event!