Logging detective mysteries
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Logging Detective Mysteries. Dr. Orley K. Marron - 2013. Why Detective Mysteries?. A sudden scream split the night. Detective Gilgamesh sat up in the narrow hotel bed. He tried to switch on the light, but it didn’t work.

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Logging Detective Mysteries

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Logging detective mysteries

Logging Detective Mysteries

Dr. Orley K. Marron - 2013

Why detective mysteries

Why Detective Mysteries?

A sudden scream split the night.

Detective Gilgamesh sat up in the narrow hotel bed.

He tried to switch on the light, but it didn’t work.

Minutes later, he heard the sound of footsteps outside his door - quick, running, light steps.

“A young man?” He wondered, “or a woman, perhaps?”

Why do we like this sort of stuff???

Problem solving reader mistrust

Problem Solving & Reader Mistrust

  • Detective stories present the reader with a mystery: a problem or riddle that needs to be solved.

  • What is special about mysteries is that no character (except perhaps the detective!) is reliable.

  • Readers have to suspect everyone, and distrust anything any character says.

  • This is a very unique situation in literature, because we usually want to trust the characters and identify with them…

    Therefore readers must be in “a constant state of vigilance” (as Lisa Zunshine terms it ) - constantly suspicious – just like the detective investigating the mystery.

    Reader mistrust is at the basis of the detective story

Problem solving reader mistrust1

Problem Solving & Reader Mistrust

  • Readers enjoy the suspense, they like putting clues together, and they even enjoy being tricked by the author.

  • They are not as emotionally involved with the characters – we rarely cry in a murder mystery!

    So the focus is on solving the riddle / mystery – by :

    • uncovering motives

    • Inferring

    • distinguishing different perspectives

    • making connections

    • …….

      Sound familiar?

Frustrating our expectations

Frustrating our Expectations

From “Why We Read Fiction” – Lisa Zunshine (2006)

“ In other words, we open a detective novel with an avid anticipation that our expectations will be systematically frustrated, that we will be repeatedly made fools of, and that for several hours….we will be fed deliberate lies in lieu of being given a direct answer to one single simple question that we really care about (i.e., who done it?)”

Constant state of tension

Constant State of Tension

Ellen R. Belton (Brooklyn College) observes that the reader of the detective story is motivated

“by two conflicting desires: the desire to solve the mystery ahead of or at least simultaneously with the investigator and the desire not to solve it until the last possible moment in order to prolong the pleasures of the mystery situation.”

She says that this state of tension is fine in a book, but not in life: “I do not think that many of us would find such a suspended state particularly delectable in real life. “

Why log it

Why Log It?

  • Because the pupils LOVE it.

  • Because they watch Sherlock and a variety of other mysteries and are interested in the genre

  • Because they become sensitized to generic differences, and really exercise their analytical skills – especially in discovering HOW THE AUTHOR tricks us

  • Because it encourages them to write creatively and descriptively

The speckled band arthur conan doyle

The Speckled Band – Arthur Conan Doyle

  • There are many detective stories worth reading

  • Some are even anti – detective – like “Lamb to the Slaughter” – where the murderer tricks the police!

  • “The Speckled Band” is set in Victorian England and is rich in cultural and historical information

The speckled band victorian culture

The Speckled Band – Victorian Culture

  • The story mentions British colonization of India

  • It mentions the Doctors – Murderers of the period

  • It deals with inheritance laws, the status of women and violence in the family

  • It makes us aware of the limitations of forensic science at the time

  • It is an excellent piece to use for the extended bridging project!

The speckled band teaching logistics

The Speckled Band – Teaching Logistics

Prepare a handout for your students that includes:

  • A neat and easy to use checklist & unit evaluation according to which you will grade the log

    (This will serve as a guideline for the students as to how to order the pages)

The speckled band teaching logistics1

The Speckled Band – Teaching Logistics

2. Work pages for the 7 components in a logical order

  • Pre Reading

  • Basic Understanding & Analysis for eachsection of the story

The speckled band teaching logistics2

The Speckled Band – Teaching Logistics

  • Literary terms - Explicit instruction pages

  • HOT Skills – Explicit instruction pages

  • Bridging questions / material

The speckled band teaching logistics3

The Speckled Band – Teaching Logistics

  • A post reading task (or two for different student personalities ) with rubrics

  • Visuals that create an interest

  • Background material / historical / biographical context that can be part of the pre-reading, bridging and even PRT

  • And possibly a reflection…

The speckled band teaching logistics4

The Speckled Band – Teaching Logistics

  • Your students can keep the story and handouts in a plastic envelope.

  • Whenever they come to class, they need to bring this envelope; everything you hand out relating to the unit is kept in it

     This save A LOT of aggravation, lost papers etc…

  • When the unit is complete, you hold a “log day” and all the material in the envelope is inserted into a soft binder, the temporary unit log, according to the checklist

  • You grade the log unit according to the checklist, and save until all the units have been completed… and then all are compiled into one big binder.

The speckled band how do we teach it

The Speckled Band – How do we teach it?

  • Do a pre – reading on detective mysteries: What is special about this genre?

    • You can discuss character reliability and reader’s tendency to trust characters (see handout)

  • Mention Edgar Allen Poe, the father of modern English mystery, and his detective, C. August Dupin…

The speckled band understanding analysis

The Speckled Band – Understanding & Analysis

  • Read the story part by part

  • For each part:

  • go through basic understanding steps

    (vocabulary, LOTS questions) making sure the pupils understand what is happening

  • Perform little bits of dialogue to bring the text to life

  • Adopt a “deductive” approach, looking at the clues provided and trying to make sense of them [step in the shoes of the detective]

  • Work through some analytical questions that explore how the author creates suspense and what inferences & predictions readers make as more clues are uncovered

The speckled band opening

The Speckled Band – Opening

  • It was early in April in the year '83 that I woke one morning to find Sherlock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by the side of my bed. He was a late riser, as a rule, and as the clock on the mantelpiece showed me that it was only a quarter-past seven, I blinked up at him in some surprise, and perhaps just a little resentment, for I was myself regular in my habits.

  • "Very sorry to knock you up, Watson," said he, "but it's the common lot this morning. Mrs. Hudson has been knocked up, she retorted upon me, and I on you."

  • “knock you up” ???

  • What does it mean now, and in the story? (get someone pregnant, vs. summon or arouse…)

The speckled band introduction

The Speckled Band introduction

  • A Lady in Distress

  • … her face all drawn and grey, with restless frightened eyes, like those of some hunted animal. Her features and figure were those of a woman of thirty, but her hair was shot with premature grey, and her expression was weary and haggard. Sherlock Holmes ran her over with one of his quick, all-comprehensive glances.

  • Holmes shows his Detecting Abilities

  • "There is no mystery, my dear madam," said he, smiling. "The left arm of your jacket is spattered with mud in no less than seven places. The marks are perfectly fresh. There is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way, and then only when you sit on the left-hand side of the driver."

The speckled band

The Speckled Band

  • What Could Ladies Do?

  • … "She died just two years ago, and it is of her death that I wish to speak to you. You can understand that, living the life which I have described, we were little likely to see anyone of our own age and position. We had, however, an aunt, my mother's maiden sister, Miss HonoriaWestphail, who lives near Harrow, and we were occasionally allowed to pay short visits at this lady's house. Julia went there at Christmas two years ago, and met there a half-pay major of marines, to whom she became engaged

  • The Murder

  • “I could not sleep that night. A vague feeling of impending misfortune impressed me...It was a wild night. The wind was howling outside, and the rain was beating and splashing against the windows. Suddenly, amid all the hubbub of the gale, there burst forth the wild scream of a terrified woman. I knew that it was my sister's voice.

The speckled band1

The Speckled Band

  • Holmes Suspects but we don’t know

  • … "This is a very deep business," he said at last. "There are a thousand details which I should desire to know before I decide upon our course of action…. “

  • … It's a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime it is the worst of all…

  • I had never seen my friend's face so grim or his brow so dark as it was when we turned from the scene of this investigation. We had walked several times up and down the lawn, neither Miss Stoner nor myself liking to break in upon his thoughts before he roused himself from his reverie.

  • "It is very essential, Miss Stoner," said he, "that you should absolutely follow my advice in every respect."

The speckled band analysis literary terms

The Speckled Band – Analysis – Literary Terms

  • Spiral terms related to short stories, emphasizing the climax & resolution

  • Introduce and Discuss

    • “Theory of Mind”

    • character reliability

    • reader distrust

  • other terms ? (irony – “this beauty” in reference to the murderer… etc.)

The speckled band hots

The Speckled Band – HOTS

  • Introduce (or spiral) : Uncovering Motives

  • Why does the wolf ask LRRH where is she going?

  • Why does she tell him? (after she was warned not to…)

  • Why would Dr. Roylott want his step-daughters dead?

The speckled band hots1

The Speckled Band – HOTS

  • Introduce (or spiral) : Making Connections

  • What does the fact that Dr. Roylott, in India, beat his native housekeeper to death tell us about his personality?

  • What can we understand from the marks on Helen’s hand?

  • Why does Dr. Roylott have a leash and container of milk by his safe?

The speckled band bridging

The Speckled Band – Bridging

  • The Victorian Era is the context – so many things to connect to the story!

    • What forensic science techniques existed at the time

    • How colonization affected the British

    • What the status of women was…

The speckled band post reading task

The Speckled Band – Post Reading Task

  • Performance – students can turn the text into a dialogue to perform

  • Book cover / poster for a movie / illustrated book

  • A new murder mystery based on the characters and events

  • Helen’s story – 20 years later…

  • A display of Victorian Era facts and everyday items described in the story (dog cart, poker, etc….)

The speckled band post reading task1

The Speckled Band – Post Reading Task

The speckled band post reading task2

The Speckled Band – Post Reading Task

Logging detective mysteries


The speckled band reflection

The Speckled Band – Reflection

  • Besides the regular reflection questions,

  • this piece can be used to reflect on how the HOT skills students have learned up until now,

  • Are employed by the CHARACTERS (as well as readers) to reach the solution of the mystery

Watch out and thanks for watching

Watch Out! (and thanks for watching!)

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