Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Become a Detective

Shannon Flynn
Okaloosa County Schools


Everyone loves a mystery and now your students can be the detectives! In this lesson, students read a mystery story while searching for clues to help predict the outcome. They record the outcome then finish the story to see how well they predicted.


The student predicts ideas or events that may take place in the text, gives rationale for predictions, and confirms and discusses predictions as the story progresses.


-A short mystery story (See Preparations)
-Computers with Internet access
-Copies of Prediction Rubric for each student (See Associated File)
-Copies of Reflection Rubric for each student (optional) (See Associated File)
-Notebook paper
-Pencil or pen


1. Select a short mystery story that students could successfully read in approximately 15 minutes. We suggest using the online mystery at (See Weblinks).
2. Determine the location in the story where the students will stop to write their prediction paragraphs.
3. Download Prediction Rubric (and optional Reflection Rubric, See Extensions) from the associated file and make copies for each student.
4. Download Simulation Scenario card and make one copy per class. (See Associated File)
5. If computers are used to access the recommended mystery story, set up your Internet browser to include a favorite/bookmark link to
6. The day before the lesson, select one student to participate in the simulation. Give that student the simulation scenario card from the attached file and provide the selected student with a quick overview of what to expect.


1. At the start of class, hold the simulation scenario: Your student assistant asks you to help locate a missing item. You and the class question the assistant to gain clues and make predictions that eventually locate the missing item. (See Preparations)

2. Explain to the students that they will be using a mystery story to learn about making predictions based on clues they will gain through reading. To confirm understanding of mystery stories, ask students what specific mysteries they are familiar with (TV shows and cartoons, movies, books).

3. Ask students to define in writing the following: predict, rationale, confirm.

∑ predict (verb) To tell about in advance: The weather report predicts showers.
∑ rationale (noun) Essential reasons; the basis: What was your rationale for making that decision?
∑ confirm (verb) To prove or agree that something is true, correct, or possible: The newscast confirmed reports of a flu epidemic.

4. Discuss together the correct meanings of the three terms. Connect them to the earlier simulation scenario.

5. Provide a brief introduction to the story.

6. Instruct the students on directions for this activity:

∑ Read the story until you reach the point where you write the prediction paragraph.
∑ Turn the paragraph into the teacher for feedback.
∑ Finish reading the story.
∑ Confirm that your prediction matches or does not match the actual story ending.

7. Distribute the Prediction Rubric (See Associated File) and discuss it with the students so that they know the assessment criteria in advance.

8. Check for understanding: Ask a student to summarize the directions.

9. Students read and complete the assignment while the teacher monitors their progress.

10. As students finish, use the Prediction Rubric to assess the paragraph and provide feedback.


Note: This lesson does not cover confirming and discussing predictions as the story progresses.

Use the Prediction Rubric (See Associated File) to formatively assess the studentís ability to make predictions supported by rationale.


The following journal activity can be used to encourage students to extend their thinking and write about their feelings.

1. Ask students to think about their predictions compared to the actual outcome of the story. Have students write reflection paragraphs in their language arts journals (if they have them) or on a separate piece of paper, to confirm or deny the predictions and discuss how they felt about the ending.
2. Use the Reflection Rubric in the associated file to assess the journal entries. Be sure to share the rubric with the students before using it to assess their work.

Web Links

Web supplement for Become a Detective
Mystery Netís Kids Mysteries

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.