C.S.I. Ridgeview

Caution tape, open drawers and cupboards, spilt blood, missing items and a letter from the West Vancouver Police Department greeted the grade 5 students at Ridgeview last Tuesday.

Once authorization to enter the classroom was received from WVPD, the students were provided an opportunity to explore the “Crime Scene”. Students, armed with pens, paper and iPods, examined and took stock of the clues around the room. Along with tracking the clues, the students began to ask questions about the crime.

Why would someone have robbed and wrecked our classroom? Where did they enter? How did they get in? What path did they take as they walked the room? Who would have done this?

The students were totally engaged in the “teachable moment” the situation provided them. After a number of minutes that students quickly determined that the path of blood demonstrated an east-west movement through the classroom. It was also noted that a number of items had gone missing but the reasons were curious. A computer screen, our tomobola jars, portable stereo and an autographed photo of goaltending legend and broadcaster Kelly Hrudey. It was later noted by a student that perhaps the Kelly Hrudey photo was valuable and was therefore the target of the robbery.

Using the “Skool Sucks” and “Yeah” messages written on the board in black and blue, the students ascertained that there were at least two suspects who must be in their late teens or early twenties, as adults wouldn’t write such a message. The theory then further developed into possibly being a former student of mine who was either disgruntled or had knowledge of Kelly Hrudey’s value.

There were lots of excellent observations made as the students noted that the blood looked strangely faint, the direction a table sat indicated the movement of the intruders, and that marks on the window may have been caused by a break-in from outside.

Of course there were the doubters. Those students who concluded that this was a stunt for some sort of learning purpose asked many critical questions. Why did the blood look like paint? Why didn’t the thieves steal the camera from my desk? Why just a monitor and not the whole computer. Why do you have a mysteries page for us to fill in?

When WVPD Constable Khorram entered the class the following day to report the finding of the police (Police Report – Mysteries Unit), it was great to hear the whispers of “I told you it was real.” They were hooked.

This week we begin our mysteries unit with the students engaged and eager to be detectives who read stories for clues, alibis, and motives along with writing their own stories of intrigue. We have some great learning ahead in grade 5 and all I had to do was trash my own classroom.


  1. Craig,
    What an engaging and authentic learning experience you have provided for your students! A true way of “hooking” children`s natural curiosity and exploiting it! A great touch having the visiting WVPC visit, thus erasing any doubting Thomas`. What other mysteries fo you have in store for G5? Unsolvable cases? Perhaps have the children inquire into what really happened to the Marie Celeste?
    Look forward to your blogs,

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback Trav. It was great watching the students fully engage in the mystery of it all. Next up we are introducing Lit Circles with a number of Linda Bailey detective books (http://www.lindabaileybooks.com/stevie.html). The students tend to really enjoy her books. As well, we have the science group Hightouch Hightech coming in and leading a workshop called Forensic Fun (http://www.sciencemadefunbc.net/elementary.cfm). Lots of great learning over the next while.

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