It's A Mystery: We Need Evidence!

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Students will be able to identify evidence to support and revise their claims.

Big Idea

Using literature and mystery is a wonderful way to engage children in the use of and importance of evidence when making a claim.

Group Lesson

20 minutes

To build excitement for today's lesson, I show this short to my students.

After watching the clip, I ask the students what it is that the team is concerned about, or what it is they think they need to find.  Obviously, the answer I lead them to if they don't arrive at it, is EVIDENCE in order to solve the mystery. 

If you choose to use the clip, you may want to forward through the 30 second advertisement ahead of time and then pause the clip, so you won't have to sit through it with your students. 

I use this clip as an entry into the term Evidence, which we will place on our vocabulary board following the lesson today.  I also point out the fact that the team worked hard to make sense of clues, evidence, that did not really make sense at first.  Science is like solving a mystery, how fun!

Next, I put a T-Chart on a large piece of paper. It is marked "Claim" and "Evidence" and instruct the students to watch the following video about the Archaeopteryx.  Scientists debate what this animal was: a reptile or a bird. The children work with me to add claims and evidence to the T-Chart. As we watch, I pause at appropriate places to discuss, debate, and add to the chart. 

This clip shows how a class debate might progress, with evidence as its catalyst. 

Active Engagement

25 minutes

Now it is the student's turn to try making claims and supporting them with evidence. I give the children the following  T- Chart, What's in the Closet? to glue into their science journals. 

I explain that I will read chunks of a mystery story to them. As I read and pause, they are to work with their shoulder partner to fill in the chart.  

I suggest projecting the sections of this short mystery, from, on the board, so students can re-read and refer to it as they work. As I read, I pause at critical spots of the story. At each pause, I ask, "What is in the Closet?" and "Why do you think that?" I also remind students to use actual language from the text in their evidence column.  

After a few entries, I ask students to share out what they are thinking at the moment and why. I also ask if other students have any different ideas, and why. Students can then add to, or revise their charts. If they find they need more room, they can draw in a chart on the neighboring page.

This student cited an interesting piece of evidence for her claim, which she composed right away.

Do not read the ending of the story until you follow the sharing and closing section of this lesson.  

Sharing and Closure

5 minutes

To close the lesson, I have partners compare their charts and discuss what they think is in the closet. 

Then, I will remind students that like mystery solvers, scientists are always looking for and listening to clues, or evidence to prove or disprove their claims. 

Finally, I read the end of the story that shows the creature in the closet was the family cat!