So, I had been struggling as to how to end the mystery of our missing glue sticks. Who, should I say, had taken them? and, why? I had wrestled with asking a colleague to say he/she’d borrowed them and had forgotten to ask. Perhaps the glue sticks should just reappear and we should never know what happened to them.
When Skyping with @Miss_Para on the Thursday eve, we concocted a plan. NBCS were having a Maker Day on the Friday and would need a lot of resources. We decided that @Miss_Para would Skype into our class on the Friday and let the students know that she and her students had, in fact, borrowed our glue for their Maker day.
Students were very confused when they arrived on Friday that there was no clue. They were also surprised when my iPad started ringing in the middle of the day. I answered it and the students heard how their glue sticks had been used for a good cause and how they were excellent sharers. They also were able to see pics of the Maker day.
They were quite unimpressed that someone had taken our glue sticks without asking but they were also relieved that the mystery had been solved.
The students wrote their final entry about the mystery and edited their work. Many students were so proud of their writing that they wanted to publish their work. When I asked if they liked writing about a mystery, the acquiescence was resounding.
If you try something like this, I’d love to hear/read about how your students go.
Thursday was to be the final day students would receive a clue about their missing glue sticks. I wanted the level of engagement and commitment to the solution to hit a climax at this point so I did this:
The final clue was purposely vague as I wanted students to challenge who they thought had taken the glue sticks. I also wanted the students to focus on describing the footprints in their recount. We brainstormed as a class what information about the footprints would be important for the investigation.
I was excited by the way students described the size, colour and pattern of the footprints as well as who they supposed owned the footprints.
Following this, students had a second attempt at giving peer feedback using the same Visible Thinking routines as the previous day. However, this time they needed to focus on their peer’s detail in their writing. Students definitely found this challenging but there were some great examples. One student wrote:
“I like how you wrote about the size of the footprints. Even better if you had written about the pattern of the footprints.”
I chuckled when, at recess, one student pointed at me and exclaimed “I’ve got it! Our principal is NOT on holidays; he’s smuggling glue sticks around the world!”
I had to be a bit more organised for Day #3 of our mystery. My students needed to use the Aurasma augmented reality app to access the next clue so I ensured that I teed-up the download with our Head of IT the day before.
The new clue looked like this (and was found by the first child in the door on Wednesday morning):
The note was accompanied by the following Aurasma image (otherwise known as an ‘Aura’) that links to a Bon Jovi song. This was a tricky clue for students so I directed them to look on their iPads for an app that looked like a big A. Eventually, I guided them to use Aurasma to scan over the image below.
To be honest, the song had a tenuous link to the missing glue sticks, but it was still cool to see how students creatively linked it to the overall mystery in their writing.
After the students had finished writing about Day 3’s clues, we had our first attempt at pair feedback using a Visible Thinking routine. Students completed the following statements in relation to each other’s writing –
I like how you…
Even better if…
As we’d previously viewed Austin’s Butterfly together, students had a bit of direction as to what made helpful feedback. It was heartening to see how invested students were in writing well and in helping each other to write well.
Tomorrow’s clue would focus on accuracy of detail and reporting like a detective.
Funnily enough, one of the very first things my students did when they entered the classroom on Tuesday was to check for another clue. Their efforts were rewarded with this:
This note was accompanied by several QR Codes that directed students to the following article (created by Yours Truly) about glue sticks going missing from several schools and why the glues were going missing.
Feel free to click on the image to check out the actual article.
As they scanned in the QR code, my students were astounded, shocked and concerned that our class was not the only class affected by glue sticks going missing. This was accompanied by calls of “Those glue sticks look exactly like ours but in different sizes.” My students were also becoming more astute – looking at things like detectives, if you will. They noticed when they were directed to an article that it had my name attached… an oversight that I cheekily claimed was someone trying to frame me.
My students went to write again. This time, they used higher modality words to express their concern that the effects were more far-reaching than they initially realised. Again, they were amazingly engaged and wrote in greater detail than I had witnessed before. They also wrote about who they thought had our glue sticks.
I was thrilled for my students and they were excited to be involved in solving the mystery. They couldn’t wait for Day #3.
I have blogged a lot about inspiring reluctant writers – this has always made me curious and frustrated at the same time. This time, I was desperate to find an exciting way in which to tackle recount writing.
From my students’ initial recounts, I noticed one very salient thing – my students were not including any detail. Perhaps this was because they didn’t have a real audience nor a real purpose behind their writing (another aspect of writing that spurs my passion). How was I going to give my students real purpose and audience so they wanted to include maximum detail?
I created a situation. On Monday, when all of students arrived, our stash of glue sticks were missing. The kids didn’t notice this – I had to set-up their Year 4 buddies to come and ask to borrow some glue in order for this discovery to happen. Then, the students found the strategically-placed note left by the “glue-thief”.
My inkling was that my students would cotton-on pretty quickly that I’d set the whole thing up. Instead, they went ballistic. They threw accusations around like a netballer throws a, well… netball. Was it the Year 4s? Perhaps it was the principal. Maybe it was another Year 2 class. No one was immune from their pointing fingers.
At this point, I conveniently suggested that the best people to investigate this mystery was indeed my students but that they should prepare a recount of events for the principal. It was imperative that they think like detectives when they wrote their account. We brainstormed the important information that our principal might need to know and got to work writing our recount of the morning’s discovery.
I have never seen students write so much detail so quickly.
At recess, kids from other classes were peering in our class window… and I received an email from my principal – ‘What’s this about missing glue sticks?’
There was more, though. Day #2 would bring yet another clue.