Using Sources: A Crime Scene
Who doesn’t find themselves intrigued by a good mystery?! This History activity is about using clues as a way of analysing sources.
This little activity is inspired by all the classic detective novels and crime solving TV shows that I love to read and watch – seriously, I couldn’t go past an episode of Castle! I think this activity can be used for History classes of any Stage to learn about using sources. With younger students, it’s often easier to describe sources as ‘clues’. So when undertaking source analysis in class, why not do so as part of a crime scene investigation!
Step 1: Set up a ‘crime scene’ in your classroom. You could go all out with police tape if you wanted! This could be as simple as setting out a couple of objects, images, or written sources relating to the topic of study. If you’d like a challenge for your students include a greater number of sources, a variety of types, or put out an assemblage of several sources in a specific order to indicate relationships between them. NB. A specific layout might be grouping primary sources separately from secondary sources. Students would then be required to work out why they were grouped in this way. You could also place sources in order of their creation.
Step 2: Prepare a list of questions about the topic being studied or ask students to come up with their own. Assign a question to each student to guide their investigation of the crime scene. Students could be given a detective or police hat to wear and a magnifying glass for some fun 🙂 I think even high school students can be encouraged to don a deerstalker!
Step 3: Students may report back to the class after investigating the crime scene so the teacher can closely guide their investigations. Older students could carry out their investigations solo. Older students could also conduct further research into the clues they discovered to answer their question in more detail.
Step 4: Whether as part of the class, a group or as individuals, students will need time to reflect on how they used the sources (ahem! clues) in the crime scene, what other clues they might need to understand the topic further and which clues were most useful. This part of the activity could be covered at a very basic level or quite in depth depending on your class’ Stage.
How would this activity work in your classroom? Please leave a comment below!