Thursday, February 23, 2012

Update on our Detective Drama Seminar

So we loosely planned for our 40 minute seminar by having 4 tasks ready that would take roughly 50 minutes. That way, if we ended up going faster than we thought, we wouldn't be standing their looking dumb. We also planned a few time wasters, such as the introductions and some 4 clue-30 second mysteries that we read aloud.

Well, it turned out that our 40 minute seminar was actually 90 minutes! We realized this just before the seminar started. But, because we have taught mysteries for years, we added in a few quick exercises. The first was to choose some volunteers and have them look at a picture and describe it for the group. The group acted as detectives hearing first-hand witness accounts but not being privy to actual photo themselves. Each volunteer described the photo as if talking to other people who had seen the photo. They included a lot of detail but glossed over the big (read obvious) picture. Neither said the picture was of people queuing up as if in a bank. But both reported the time on the wall and the clothing of the people in line. Very interesting...

The other time-filler we pulled out of thin air was a memory building activity. Detectives have to get information quickly and reliably. SO we showed them two license plates, one at a time. We then asked them to memorize the first one by repeating the letters and numbers in their heads 3 to 5 times. For the second one, we asked them to chunk the digits in groups of three to memorize them. Then we waited five minutes and asked them to write down the license plates as best they remembered. We asked the participants to talk about which memory cue worked best for them. (The class was split about 50 -50 on their preferences).

The other tasks we had planned went very well. We had  a crime scene and several witness statements that, upon scrutiny, reveal the perpetrator.

We also read aloud a court case from a book called You Be the Jury, and had participants act as a jury to solve the crime.

Finally, we had them analyze a number of substances for smell, texture, weight and appearance. Then we gave a mystery substance and asked them to identify it.

I think it went well, and I think the teachers were exposed to a number to classroom-ready activities that they could take back to their respective classrooms tomorrow.

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