What is the “Mysteries” approach?
“Mysteries” lessons are designed as stand-alone projects which each last 3-4 hours.
Through engaging topics, they teach skills of problem formulation, deductive reasoning, independent research, groupwork and structured writing.
There is a standard teacher lesson plan and student record sheet / markscheme for each activity.
Also available is a complete case study of the “Iceman Mystery”, with all the resources needed to run the Mystery with your class!
How do they work?
- Students are presented with a “starter image” and a brief roleplay – neither of which comes with any explanation.
- Based on these, the class then comes up with a series of preliminary questions for investigation (e.g. “Who is this?”, “Why did they…?”, “When did…?”, “What is…?”)
- The students are then presented with more images to help formulate fresh questions, amend existing ones or even forming provisional answers.
- This question formulation / resolution process then continues with a series of information slips shared amongst the class in groups.
- Finally, the class settles upon the most important questions to investigate and each student produces a written report which is graded against a standardised markscheme.
- Specific credit is given to students who demonstrate evidence of independent research: to this end, the teacher could construct a QR Treasure Hunt to accompany the exercise which students could complete at breaktimes. Here is an case study of a QR Treasure Hunt for the Franklin Expedition Mystery.
What’s the point?
The “History Mysteries” serve a number of very useful purposes:
- They develop important skills of question formulation, deduction, reasoning skills, groupwork and structured writing.
- As “stand alone” projects they are a great way of adding variety into a scheme of work with a minimum of fuss.
- They can be used with any year group and ability range: each investigation automatically expands in scope depending on the questions and research abilities of each student.
- The allow the teacher to cover interesting topics which don’t otherwise neatly “fit” into an existing scheme of work.
- They are (hopefully) good fun!
|The Iceman Murder Mystery||Prehistoric|
|The Murder of Becket||1100s|
|Cats’ Bottoms and the Holy Grail||1200s|
|The Princes in the Tower||1400s|
|The Gunpowder Plot||1600s|
|The Franklin Expedition||1840s|
|The Causes of the American Civil War||1860s|
|The Dreadnought Hoax||1900s|
|The Disappearance of Antoine de St. Exupery||1900s|