Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Crime Solving Detective Work -- A New TOS Review!!

Critical thinking skills and logic based thinking is something we have strived to incorporate into our homeschool. A long time ago we found these really cool 'puzzle' books called Mind Benders by The Critical Thinking Co. ™ . So when I found out that there were not only new books, but completely different ones we could not wait to get one ... we chose Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha. Just the name sounds so cool!

My husband in college took a forensic anthropology class so we determined that he would be the "Sergeant" for this case. Having a 3rd, 7th, and 9th grader, we determined that they could work as a team. My eldest would be the 'lead detective' and the others would be the 'under detectives' for this crime investigation.

The entire book is "A Whodunnit Forensic Mystery" that is broken into 3 parts - teacher instructions, forensic evidence lessons, and then the crime scene reports and forms. There is also a brief synopsis on how the investigation works which is super helpful. I also felt the Teacher Instructions were invaluable of how to set the scene and what forms to give out at first so you can get your student(s)/group going and then based on their on discussion and research they can decide the path their investigation will proceed.

After reading through all the teacher helps (which include step-by-step instructions as well as a checklist for the handouts) you will move to the lessons. There are 7 areas of forensic evidence that they will need to be taught in order to really be able to delve into the examination of the crime. These areas are:
  • anthropology (study of skeletal remains), 
  • arson (intentional setting of fire to house, buildings, or property)
  • ballistics (study of projectiles in motion as it applies to a criminal investigation)
  • counterfeit money (imitation or fake money made without the approval of the government)
  • death scene investigation (the who, how, when and where of the death as determined by a forensic entomologist, medical examiner, or pathologist)
  • document and handwriting analysis (experts who examine to determine authenticity)
  • fingerprints (unique to each person and consistent over a lifetime)
We decided to split these areas up into a few sessions and did like 2/day over a 2 week period. That gave time for them to listen to the info, take notes if they wanted, and to ask questions and really kind of absorb the information. This would allow them to apply this knowledge to different parts of the case as they encountered them.
On the 3rd week we began the case. I found a file folder and printed out (even though we had a physical book we were also given access to a pdf for all the files so we could print out as many as we needed) the initial crime scene reports and then placed them in the folder. I told them that they were to work as a team, but that the oldest was the 'lead detective' and would be the one in charge of requesting further information/documents/reports as they felt they needed over the next few weeks. We set it up that after the first day any new documents that would be needed could be requested, but would not be ready until the next day.

Since it is summer and because the "Sergeant" has a way different summer schedule, we decided to only work on the case for a few hours 2/3 days a week. They have spent probably close to 8 hours are so working on this over the last few weeks. They are ALMOST at the point where I believe they will be charge someone with the crime(s). So, in total, I think they will spend about 10 to 12 hours. I have forewarned them that there is a possibility that the case will not be all nice and tidy and tied with a bow at the end ... that there will be loose ends like in a real investigation. After we "end" we will also take some time to 'debrief' to talk about the path their investigation took and the deducting skills they used to reason what to do next throughout the case. This is also how we can see how much they retained from the beginning lessons.

We have so really enjoyed this case study, which is geared for 5th - 12th. It was certainly challenging. I think this would be fun to do as a large group camp/VBS like project where you could break it up with lessons the first 2 days and the last 3 work as detective groups to solve the crime(s). I know that we will use this again ... maybe next summer!

Right now there is a coupon for readers of the Homeschool Review Crew where if you place an order you can get 15% off + FREE shipping until 12/31/2018, just use the code TOSCREW18. You can also sign up to get FREE weekly critical thinking puzzles for ages PreK - 8th ---> a $75 value! Sign up by clicking here!

You can also find The Critical Thinking Co. ™ on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. And the Crew did not just review Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha, but a variety of others books -- Understanding Pre-Algebra, Critical Thinking Detective Book 1, Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary, Dare to Compare Level 1, Vocabulary Riddles Book 1. Be sure and check out all of their reviews too!! --- Just click the link below.
Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

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