Lessons & Units :: The Westing Game 6th Grade Unit

Lesson 5: Red Herrings

Lesson Plan

The Westing Game | 750L

The Westing Game
Learning Goal
Identify red herrings used to mislead the reader.
Approximately 2 Days (45-50 minutes for each class)
Necessary Materials
Provided: Clue Tracker from Lesson 3, Clue Tracker Worksheet from Lesson 3 (Student Packet, p. 23), Suspects Chart from Lesson 2, Predictions Chart from Lesson 4, Predictions Worksheet from Lesson 4 (Student Packet, p. 27), Red Herrings Worksheet (Student Packet, p. 32), Solution to the Main Mystery Worksheet (Student Packet, p. 33)
Not Provided: Red markers or pens, chart paper, markers, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Before the Lesson

    Read Chapters 21-30; Complete Student Packet Worksheets for Chapters 21-30

  • Activation & Motivation

    Hide an object (such as a notebook or stapler) high up in the classroom. Tell students that this object from the classroom is missing, but you found a clue: a sticky note where the object once was that says “LOOK DOWN.” Give students a minute to look beneath their desks and on the ground for the missing object. Explain that the five-minute hunt led them on a misleading trail. Then, reveal the object and its hiding place – high up in the classroom (on a shelf, etc.) Ask the students how it feels to be tricked. Explain that in mystery stories, authors often play tricks on readers to fool them into making a wrong prediction about the story.

  • Teacher Modeling

    will remind students that mystery stories contain clues that help readers solve the story, but just like I misled you on a false trail, authors also add clues that will mislead the reader. These kinds of clues are called red herrings. Red herrings are meant to keep the reader from figuring out a mystery’s solution quickly or easily. I will explain that a red herring is something that appears to be a clue, but really isn’t. Long ago, during fox chases (a game where dogs hunted foxes), smelly, smoked herring fish (which are red in color) were used to lead fox hounds on a false chase. Today, the term “red herring” is used to refer to false clues in mysteries.

    Now that I have finished reading The Westing Game, I will review the clues on my Clue Tracker (from Lesson 3) to see if any of them were actually red herrings. I will look at my false predictions on my Predictions Chart (from Lesson 4). I now know my prediction that Sydelle Pulaski could have committed the crime was false, because I know the outcome of the story. I will think about one clue,such as Sydelle Pulaski’s limp and Chris Theodorakis seeing someone with a limp walking into the Westing mansion, used to make this prediction. I will think about this clue and if it is a red herring. I know that a clue is a red herring if it leads me to the wrong prediction. I also know that a clue is not a red herring if it was meant to lead me on the path of solving the mystery. I know that this clue is a red herring because as I continued to read, I discovered other characters also limped from Turtle kicking them in the shins. Since this clue is a red herring, I will circle it using a red pen on my Predictions Chart.

  • Think Check

    Ask: "How can I identify a red herring in a mystery?" Students should respond that they can identify a red herring by looking at clues that lead to wrong predictions and clues that lead to the correct solution. The clues that lead to a wrong prediction are red herrings because they mislead the reader.

  • Guided Practice

    will take out our Predictions Chart (from Lesson 4) and think about five predictions that our classmates made. Ask five students to read one of their predictions aloud. Ask, "What clue led you to make that prediction?"  We will use the clues recorded on our Clue Tracker (from Lesson) to support our answers. As a class, we will identify if each clue (from our Clue Tracker) is a red herring, by asking if the prediction it is associated with on the Predictions Chart was a right or wrong prediction, and if the connected clue led us away from the real solution. If the clue is a red herring, we will circle it with a red pen.

  • Independent Practice

    will review your Predictions Worksheet in your Student Packet and label the clues associated with each wrong prediction as a red herring, and clues associated with correct predictions as correct clues. (See page 22 in the Student Packet.) You will record the red herrings on the Red Herrings Worksheet in your Student Packet. (See page 32 in the Student Packet.) You will then choose one suspect and write a paragraph explaining how the author misled you to believe that character committed the crime on the Red Herrings Worksheet. In your paragraph you will include details or false clues that the author used to throw you off course.

    You will also record the solution to the main mystery, using the Solution to the Main Mystery Worksheet in your Student Packet. (See page 33 in the Student Packet.)

  • Reflective Practice

    will share our paragraphs and identify the red herrings associated with different suspects in The Westing Game.

Build Student Vocabulary patent

Tier 2 Word: patent
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story “Hoo’s Little Foot-Eze (patent pending) was selling well in drug stores and shoe repair shops.”
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) A patent is a government grant that gives someone the right to use, make, or sell an invention. Hoo’s Little Foot-Eze (patent pending) means that Hoo would soon have a government grant to make and sell his Foot-Eze.
Students repeat the word Say the word patent with me: patent.
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts She had a patent on her invention. He got a patent on the toy he created.
Students provide examples Why do you think it is important to have a patent for an invention? Why? Start by saying, “I think it is important to have a patent for an invention because _____________________.”
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? patent
Additional Vocabulary Words orthopedic

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

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