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Lessons Learned from the Mystery Unit

By Bill Mulcahy, Head of Lower School

As part of the Mystery Unit a few week ago, our third-grade classrooms were tasked with being detectives and solving a case about their missing classroom “pet,” a stuffed animal they use. As part of their investigation and using clues left in their classroom, students identify potential suspects and do a final “campus walk” to solve the case. 

This year I was the culprit, and as the students walked past my office, they were surprised to see all the class “pets” lined up in my window. Their energy and excitement for what they were learning was palpable, and it was wonderful to see them apply their learning in a fun and joyful way.
After each group lectured me for a few minutes on the importance of integrity and honesty—something that I know they really enjoyed—we discussed the idea of motive and why I would have taken their class pets. After proceeding to tell them that my motive was loneliness and that I missed the regular visits to my office from classes and parents that were more commonplace pre-COVID-19, the students quickly told me I could borrow their class pet for a little bit longer or that they would bring in another animal to keep me company (which a few children did!). 

While the focus of the lesson was of course on better understanding the components of mystery stories, it was wonderful to see our students’ social-emotional learning work in action, as they quickly went from eyeing me suspiciously to thinking about how they could support me. And most importantly, our students had a lot of fun—something which I know you all agree is more important than ever!