Lessons & Units :: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief 6th Grade Unit

Lesson 2: Identifying Clues to Help Solve a Mystery

Lesson Plan

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief | 840L

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
Learning Goal
Draw conclusions about which details in a mystery are useful clues.
Approximately 2 Days (40-45 minutes for each class)
Necessary Materials
Provided: Student Clue Pieces, Clue Tracker – save for use with Lessons 4 and 5, Clue Tracker Worksheet (Student Packet, p. 15) – save for use with Lessons 4 and 5
Not Provided: Scissors, stapler, chart paper, markers, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • Before the Lesson

    Read Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, Chapters 6-10; Complete Student Packet Worksheets for Chapters 6-10

  • Activation & Motivation

    Before starting the lesson, remove the stapler from the classroom. Cut out the Student Clue Pieces (see Teacher and Student Materials). Begin the lesson by telling students that they will help solve The Case of the Disappearing Mystery Item. Explain that they will each receive one clue to help them solve the case. Pass around one Student Clue Piece per student. Allow students one minute to use the clues to solve the case. Note: The Disappearing Item should be a stapler, based on the clues provided.

    After the minute is up, pair students and have them put their clues together to get more information to crack the case. Give students two additional minutes to solve the case. Combine pairs of students into groups. They should now have four clues to help them solve the case. Allow two minutes for the groups to work together to solve the case. When time is up, ask each group about their clues. Which clues helped your group get closer to solving the case: one clue, two clues, or more clues? Why?

    Engage students in a conversation about their thought process. "Which clues were most useful in helping you solve the mystery? Which were of little or no use? How did you decide which clues were useful and which clues were not?"

  • Teacher Modeling

    will explain that just like the clues that were used to find the stapler, mystery authors also include clues. Clues are details in a story that are suspicious or out of place. As we learned from “The Case of the Disappearing Mystery Item,” clues help solve the mystery. They can be words that characters think or say, actions characters take, or objects in the story. Clues answer questions about the mystery: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? Some details in a story turn out to be useful clues, while other details don’t help the reader solve the mystery. It’s an investigator’s job—and a reader’s mission—to figure out which details in a text can be helpful or useful clues.

    I will reread Chapter 6 of Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief to look for suspicious or odd details that could be useful clues. I will write these clues on the Clue Tracker. Then, I will use the clue to answer the 5W and H questions about a mystery. These clues will come in handy as I try to predict the outcome of the mystery. Note: See the Clue Tracker for specific examples. Have students follow along in their books while you read Chapter 6 aloud. Save the Clue Tracker for use with Lessons 4 and 5.

    For example, a suspicious action or detail that stands out to me is when T.J. slams the register drawer and tells Madame Nashira that he’ll be living on Jasmine, the street in town that wealthy people live on. I also see that T.J. seems mean and rude. I’ll write this detail on my Clue Tracker. I will then try to answer the 5W and H questions for the clues about T.J. to figure out if the clue is useful or not: Who? T.J. What? Wants to live on Jasmine. Is rude to customers/females. Where? Maynard’s Market. When? When Marissa and Sammy are at the store. Why? Unknown. How? Unknown.

    Next, I will draw a conclusion about this clue to see if it is useful. Based on what I know about T.J.’s behavior and dreams of living on an expensive street, I think this character or his actions could be clues to help solving the mystery about who stole the money from the hotel. On my Clue Tracker, I will put a checkmark next to this clue because I think it is useful in helping to solve the mystery. I will come back to this clue as I learn more information about T.J. later in the text.

  • Think Check

    Ask: "How did l find useful clues in the story?" Students should respond that you looked for odd or suspicious details that could be useful in solving the mystery. You asked and answered the 5W and H questions about the detail to draw a conclusion about its usefulness as a clue.

  • Guided Practice

    will reread Chapter 7 to look for details that could be clues. We will pause our reading when we come across suspicious or odd details to record them on our Clue Tracker that we started during the Direct Teaching. Note:Read aloud with the class and ask students to raise their hands if they notice an odd detail. The first tangible suspicious detail doesn’t come until after Sammy goes to Hudson’s house. Save the Clue Tracker for use with Lesson 4.

    We will then determine if the clue is useful by answering as many 5W and H questions as we can. If the clue is useful, we will place a checkmark by it on our Clue Tracker. For example, one suspicious detail we come across is that Hudson bought new wild boar boots. We’ll write this detail down on our Clue Tracker. Next, we will answer as many 5W and H questions as we can about this detail. Who? Hudson. What? New wild boar boots. Why? The boots are probably expensive, which means Hudson would have needed a lot of money to buy them. We will draw a conclusion about this detail. Is it a useful clue? Could it help us solve the mystery? Since this could be a useful clue, we will put a checkmark next to it on the Clue Tracker.

  • Independent Practice

    will reread Chapters 8-10, looking for odd or suspicious details that could be clues. As you come across possible clues, you will ask the 5W and H questions about the detail. If you determine that the detail is a possible clue, you will write it on your Clue Tracker Worksheet in yourStudent Packet. (See page 15 in the Student Packet.) You will also record the 5W and H questions that led you to believe this detail was a clue and decide if it is a clue or not. You will think about the question: Does this clue provide me with information about the mystery, a suspect, or a clue? If it does, you will put a checkmark next to the clue.

    In your Student Packet, look back at the Odd Happenings you had previously listed from Chapters 1 through 7, and consider which happenings could be useful clues. In addition, add the clues to your Clue Tracker Worksheet page and answer the 5W and H questions about these clues. Then, put a checkmark next to the clues that you believe will help you solve the mystery. Continue to record additional clues to your Clue Tracker Worksheet as you read further into the book. Note: Save the Clue Tracker Worksheet for use with Lessons 4 and 5.

  • Reflective Practice

    will each share one of our useful clues with the class. We will discuss why we concluded the detail was a useful clue. We will keep a list of clues on our Clue Tracker. We will refer to these clues as we read the conclusion of the book. They may help us as we try to solve the mystery. Note: Use the Clue Tracker that you started with the class during the Direct Teaching and Guided Practice. Keep the chart posted and refer to it throughout the unit. It will also be used during Lesson 4.

Build Student Vocabulary dainty

Tier 2 Word: dainty
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story Officer Borsch is waiting for Sammy in Marissa’s living room. Sammy says, “And sitting there in one of those dainty glass chairs is Officer Borsch, looking like an elephant trying to squeeze into a fishbowl.”
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) Dainty means small, pretty, and delicate. When Sammy said that Officer Borsch was sitting in a dainty glass chair, she meant that the chair he was sitting in was small, pretty, and delicate.
Students repeat the word Say the word dainty with me: dainty.
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts Be careful with the dainty China vase. The flower was dainty. The dress she wore was dainty. It was not a bold statement.
Students provide examples What is something that is dainty? Start by saying, “Something that is dainty is ___________________.”
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? dainty
Additional Vocabulary Words flimsy, gropes, government-subsidized

Texts & Materials

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