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English

Genres #3: Sleuth's Hunch - Mystery ELA Semester Course (6th, 7th & 8th Grade)

This intensive middle school semester course is a deep dive into essay writing (various styles), creative writing, literary analysis, and research with Greenglass House (Edgar Award), independent novels (historical+), and more!
Alaina Bell Gao
331 total reviews for this teacher
1 review for this class
Completed by 1 learner
Class
50 minutes
per class
3x per week
over 12 weeks
11-15
year olds
3-9
learners per class
per learner - per class

How does aMulti-Daycourse work?

Meets multiple times at scheduled times
Live video chats, recorded and monitored for safety and quality
Discussions via classroom forum and private messages with the teacher
Great for engaging projects and interacting with diverse classmates from other states and countries

How Outschool Works

Available Times

Pacific Time

Mon Aug 22

Aug 22 - Nov 17 (12 weeks)
Mo, We, Th
4pm - 4:50pm
 Enroll
Don't see a time that works for you?

Description

Class Experience

This course will introduce and build up informational reading, foundational reading skills, literary analysis, essay writing, creative writing, media literacy, and speaking and listening skills. Together with the other courses in this series, it will focus on the grade six, seven, and eight American common core standards.
VISIT IT! (DAY 1) - Read a nonfiction article or watch a documentary & write an essay/response before class or revise a previous one. 
*Not required on the first day of the course  
EXPLORE IT! (Day 2) - Read the assigned chapters in the novel (or other literature) and complete a summarizing activity before class.
IMAGINE IT! (Day 3) -  No homework is required, but learners should catch up on their reading/assignments or work on their short stories.

Week 1: Mystery Traits, Setting, Atmosphere & Mood
Nonfiction - The elements of mystery (Determine several central ideas and their development)
Digital Literacy - "Three Skeleton Key" & "The Case of the Curious Etching" - Dramatized Recordings (Listen and answer the questions)
https://oneact.bandcamp.com/album/three-skeleton-key
https://oneact.bandcamp.com/album/the-gas-town-mysteries-in-color
Focus - Listening for comprehension, details & elements of the mystery genre; List of independent study novel settings; Reader's Theatre collaboration

Week 2: Types of Mysteries & Plots
Nonfiction - Real life mysteries: Show & tell brainstorming
Fiction - Introduction to the independent study novel plots & other mystery plots (Determine different types of mysteries)
Focus - Brainstorming a plot and a perplexing mystery; Choose a novel for independent study

Week 3: Round Characters
Nonfiction - Descriptions of famous people: Characteristics, traits & flaws (Cite textural evidence)
Essay #1 - Description of a Friend/Relative
Fiction - Character analysis: Greenglass House (Chapters 1-3)
Focus - Developing strong, round characters; Interviewing the suspects

Week 4: Details of the Crime and Types of Locations (Everyday, Local, Exotic, Mysterious, etc.)
Nonfiction: Types of clues, crime scenes, and locale vocabulary
Essay #2 - Definition of a mystery
Fiction - Independent novel presentations (how the authors introduce the mysteries and the details given)
Focus - Choose your mystery and add tantalizing details that incriminate multiple characters

Week 5: Characterization & Motive
Nonfiction - Tone and diction in descriptions of smuggling and criminal activities (Word choice & analysis of how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text)
Essay #3 - Write a narrative essay about a temptation or a challenging decision
Fiction - Greenglass House (Chapters 4-6)
Focus - Planning plausible motives and multiple suspects

Week 6: Layers of Puzzles, Several Paths & Mapping Out the Plot
Suggested supplies: Sticky notes
Nonfiction: Research, dictionaries & thesauruses 
Fiction: Greenglass House (Chapters 7-8)
Focus - Conflict & complications; Blind spots & flaws; Details that are clear and unclear to each character and reasons for their next actions; Mapping out the plot

Week 7: Clues, Foreshadowing, Distraction, Misdirection & Red Herrings
Nonfiction - Red Herrings (Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas)
Fiction - Greenglass House (Chapters 9-11)
Focus - Weaving in clues and red herrings

Week 8: Pacing, Tension, Suspense, Syntax & Voice
Nonfiction - The Elements of Pacing (Find supporting details and examples)
Essay #4 - Analyze how the author is leaving a trail of clues for the readers and building suspense
Fiction - Presentations about the independent novels
Focus - Pacing, varied sentences, and voice

Week 9: The Author's Experience, Thoughts & Opinions
Nonfiction - Author's Note
Fiction - Greenglass House (Chapters 12-15)
Focus - Themes and details

Week 10: Intriguing Introductions & Conclusions
Nonfiction - Circular Narratives
Fiction - Excerpts from mystery stories (Pivotal clues)
Focus - Comparing introductions in a table to make conclusions about how to start and conclude a mystery story; Developing our introductions and conclusions

Week 11: Perfecting Our Craft
Nonfiction - Peer input, revisions & editing
Essay #5 - Research an element of the novel (historical, geographic, scientific, etc.) and review the novel based on its accuracy
Focus - Figurative language; Peer input, revisions & editing

Week 12: The Grand Reveal!
Essay #6 - Write a reflective essay about your growth as a mystery writer
Focus - Present your mystery story in two formats: dramatic audio reading, video, animation, text adventure game, board game, illustrated picture book, pop up book, graphic novel, or short story.
 5 files available upon enrollment
Each learner must have their own copy of Greenglass House by Kate Milford and one of the following novels for independent study. Required: Greenglass House by Kate Milford Choose One: The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg At the Bottom of the World: Jack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie Taylor & Rose Secret Agents: Peril in Paris by Katherine Woodfine The Pathfinders Society: The Mystery of the Moon Tower by Francesco Sedita & Prescott Seraydarian The Story Seeker by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon Yours Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
Rubrics will be provided for each essay and for the creative writing assignment and I will be happy to provide anecdotal updates on your learner's progress upon request.

*This course is rich in content and is a good fit for advanced and gifted learners, but I maintain an encouraging, creative, low-stress environment for all learners to thrive with much support so that everyone can make growth and stimulate each other. There is a full course load, but I am accommodating of various needs, levels, and schedules. I feel that all learners will do what they can do when treated with respect and encouraged to grow. Therefore, there will be no grading in this course (A, B, C, etc. or percentages). Instead, I record feedback (video) with specific praise and suggestions for the future, believing that essay writing and English skills develop over time (for a lifetime) and at varying rates for all individuals. Individual growth and sustained/renewed interest is most important. Thus, this course will be a wonderful fit for any learner who has time for a full English course load, is able to read, write, and participate independently, and is ready for a thrilling deep dive into the genre!
2 hours 30 minutes per week in class, and an estimated 4+ hours per week outside of class.
This course is not intended for sensitive readers.

Like in many children's novels, the child characters set out to solve the mystery independently. The readers must be able to analyze the characters' choices to understand healthy life choices in the real world and imaged adventurous (but potentially dangerous) choices in a fictional world.

The main character of our focus novel reflects on his place in his adopted family (positive family dynamics) while he also wonders about his birth family and how his life could have been different. The author researched adoption extensively for a personal international adoption.

The setting of Greenglass House is a town and inn where smuggling is a way of life and is embraced as a response to an economy with stipulations and laws that do not always serve the people. Thus, there is frequent mention of smuggling, theft, and other illegal activities. There is also a gun and a shot fired, as well as a suspenseful chase scene, which turns out well. The characters are complex and flawed, but likable. Thus, there will be discussions of ethics and choices, what pushes someone to take these actions, and who could/would take these routes.

There are also magical and supernatural elements to this novel, including a ritual for saving a town (in a story) and [spoiler alert!!!] . . . a ghost.

Some adult characters also smoke cigars and drink alcohol.

Additionally, each learner will be reading one novel from the following list independently. I will provide content details and guidance in selecting an appropriate novel.

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
At the Bottom of the World: Jack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan
The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie
Taylor & Rose Secret Agents: Peril in Paris by Katherine Woodfine
The Pathfinders Society: The Mystery of the Moon Tower by Francesco Sedita & Prescott Seraydarian
The Story Seeker by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon
Yours Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
The Mystery of the Moon Tower by Francesco Sedita and Prescott Seraydarian
Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit by Brittney Williams, Hope Larson, and Lilliam Rivera
We will use Google Docs for writing and Google for research.

Teacher

Alaina Bell Gao
🇨🇦
Lives in Canada
Let's explore the world through literature, art, and social studies!
331 total reviews
161 completed classes

About Me

Hi! My name is Alaina Bell Gao, and I am an Ontario-certified (Canadian) English teacher with 15+ years of professional teaching experience.

Teaching Style:
● Share the joy of learning
● Learn with my learners
● Welcoming class culture
● Patient... 
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