Organization and Timeline
Step-by-Step Schedule - Grade 3
Citrus Elementary School
Vero Beach, FL
Long Does Mystery Class Take?"
have used Mystery Class with my third graders for many years now. Before
Mystery Class even begins, I build students' background knowledge by
teaching map-reading and geography skills, and the science behind what
makes the seasons.
First Half of Mystery Class:
During the first half of Mystery Class (approximately five weeks) when we are
receiving sunrise/sunset data only, I spend about 15 minutes of prep time and
30 minutes of class time each Friday on Mystery Class.
I print out a copy of the weekly online update. I read through it,
and highlight the information that I wish to share with my students.
I calculate the photoperiod for each site so later I can use my
answers to check that the students' answers are correct. (10-15
I go online to show the students the update. (My presentation system
shows my computer screen on the TV in the classroom.) We read through
it, discussing any interesting information or challenge questions.
we get to the part of the update with the sunrise/sunset data,
I leave it up on the screen. The students work with their groups
to record their sunrise/sunset data and calculate their photoperiods.
I check student answers. If they are incorrect, they try again.
If their answers are correct, the students move on to adding their
new data to their line graphs. As the project progresses and the
students become more experienced with calculating the photoperiod,
this part starts to go more quickly. (10-15 minutes)
everyone has finished their small-group work, we meet again as
a whole class. I add their new data to the class graph. We discuss
the trends and draw conclusions. (10 minutes).
Second Half of Mystery Class:
Later, during the last six weeks of Mystery Class when the clues are
posted, I spend about 80 to 90 minutes of class time and 20 minutes
of prep time each Friday on Mystery Class.
prepare, I print two copies of the online update. The first copy I use
to highlight and calculate the photoperiods. I cut the clues out of
the second copy, and attach them to each group's Mystery Class folder.
work in groups to record and graph their data as described above.
read through their new clues, find unfamiliar words in the dictionary
(or they can ask me what they mean) and write a brief action plan.
For example: I need to look in the World Atlas for this; I need
to find an informational book; I think we need to look in the encyclopedia,
etc.) (10-15 minutes)
- I take
the class down to the school media center, and they browse through
the reference books to research their clues. (30 minutes)
we leave the media center I debrief the students, asking them what
they discovered, and what they still need to do. (5-10 minutes)
the afternoon, each group does on-line Internet searches to research
their clues during computer lab. (25 minutes)
may also work independently on their Mystery Class clues during the
rest of the week as follows:
Students may use the classroom computer stations using resources
on CD-ROM as their "center" work while the teacher is doing
small-group reading. Students may go go down to the media center
to use the reference books during
recess or if they complete their class work early. Students may work on solving
their Mystery Class clues independently at home.