The Mystery of the Missing Glue Sticks

Find out how we made recount writing the most exciting text type to write.


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”.

Clue #1

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.

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