This semester, I taught a 12-week beginner English course. The idea for the class was that it was a conversational based course for student who had little to no English knowledge. When planning the course, I was not sure how I could encourage conversations if the students didn’t have the vocabulary or grammar knowledge in English. So, I decided that the final exam would be a Murder Mystery game, and worked back from there. In addition, I made it an activity based course to encourage conversations. For example, we did a photo scavenger hunt throughout campus one day (which was hilarious and the students loved it), in two teams the class created an imaginary town, etc. This class made me realize I thoroughly enjoy teaching at the university level, but not younger than that.
Last week Wednesday was their final exam. It had been a three-week series. We had a professor, who had done his Master’s thesis on Sherlock Holmes, come in and talk about Sherlock Holmes, mystery literature, and common character personalities. Then, I told the students the premise of who died in relation to the final exam game, and they chose their characters from a list (the list consisted of relationships to the deceased, such as wife, child, co-worker, friend, etc). Afterwards, their homework was to create their character. Here is the worksheet they had to fill out:
Then, they needed to create a routine for their characters. Over the following few days, I tied all the characters, motives, etc. together into one complete story, with a few twists and turns. On the day of the exam, I gave each student a clue sheet divided into three parts: 1) what they can say to begin with, 2) after new evidence was found, what they could add to the story, and 3) an alibi.
My students also earned cupcakes if they dressed up for their part. (I have realized that baking in Brazil is extremely difficult because the oven is in Celsius, has a different range, is not always correct, ingredients are sometimes different, etc.) Anyway, here is what my students looked like:
Although there were a few kinks, the story was more or less:
Franklin P. Dolittle owned Dolittle’s Funeral Home. Tuesday night, his wife found him in a coffin, partially embalmed (thank outside help for that part…Catherine and Jake…). What had happened was Franklin’s brother-in-law happened to be head of the Italian Mafia, and when Franklin’s brother and brother-in-law wanted Franklin in on their new drug ring, money from the mafia went missing. The brother-in-law thought Franklin stole it, so he went to beat the info out of him. Franklin’s mother saw this happening and wanted to know what was going on, out of rage that all of her children were part of the mafia, she killed him and tried to frame the wife. The wife being a nurse would know how to embalm, kind of, so the mom did just that. But she heard a noise and fled. Franklin’s employee, came in and found him that way and moved him to the coffin.
Obviously, there was more than that to the story, but overall, it was amazing! Only the priest was able to guess that the mother did it. I am so excited to see how it goes next semester!
—Two weeks later—
By the way, I am doing other things as well, but this class always made my day. They were a great group of students, and most are continuing in a second level next semester with me. I did teach an American Culture and Academic Life course for those going abroad in August. After the class ended, we did an American BBQ.