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Elementary My Dear Watson

Organizing your Unit Plans and Analyzing Primary Sources with the Worlds Greatest Detectives: Your Students!
Anthony Fitzpatrick

221B Baker Street & Your Classroom


Introducing himself to a would be client in

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Sir

Arthur Conan Doyles famous super sleuth Sherlock Holmes famously declared, Here is my lens. You know my methods.

221B Baker Street & your classroom


One of the best known literary characters of all time, Sherlock Holmes was indeed the Worlds Greatest Detective. Unlike the superheroes of today who owe their enormous strength or intellect to mysterious super powers, Holmes acknowledged that most of his powers of sleuthing grew out of the art of observation and deduction.

221B Baker Street & your classroom


But just what exactly were those methods? More importantly how can we apply them in our classrooms to make our students historical detectives on the trail of the past through the reading and interpretation of various types of evidence?

Holmes Rules # 1
In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practice it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically. A Study in Scarlet

Applying Holmes Rule #1


Begin with the end in mind.
Once that is established create a calendar of By the end of the content with skill year what content sets weaved in.
EOY skill document based questions how do you build it to success by the end of the year?

and skills should my students master? What are the logical steps to skill mastery?

Can we reason backwards in a way that is more lesson based?


Absolutely! Let examine some of the questions we ask. Is there a way we can problematize the content in our questioning techniques?

Applying Holmes Rules # 1


Begin with the end in mind by problematizing the content. Instead of asking students to Discuss the historic election of 1800 and its consequences for the United States. Why not begin with a problem? Why did John Adams lose the election of 1800? What social, political, and economic developments over the course of his presidency helped to cost him the White House?

Holmes Rules # 2
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. A Scandal in Bohemia

Applying Holmes Rule # 2


Make use of primary and secondary sources to enhance your instruction. With your outcome in mind, plan and create exciting units that flow from student interpretations of these types of sources. Which Primary Sources are most important to your classroom?

Holmes Rules # 3
Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell. The Adventure of the

Copper Beeches

Approach the use of primary sources in a logical fashion applying the same filters each time in order to be able to compare and contrast and draw conclusions.

Applying Holmes Rule # 3


Use teaching methods that will provide your students with a familiar lens to view history. Over the course of the past year, you were exposed to several teaching methods from. Using methods can allow students to review content in a logical way looking for important content and connections on the path to becoming independent thinkers and learners.

Holmes Rules # 4
We balance probabilities and choose the most likely.

It is the scientific use of the imagination. The Hound of the Baskervilles

Applying Holmes Rule # 4


Remember to be creative! Sources of information come from many places. Whether is it the thesis of a textbook yearning to be proven, or a memorial sitting silently by the town hall waiting to be seen. Dont rely on simple text. Make history come alive through heroes, music, art, memorials, mysteries and problems. Which methods and resources from the grant experience can you use?

Holmes Rules # 5
Always look at the hands first, Watson. Then cuffs, trouserknees, and boots. The Adventure of the

Creeping Man

Applying Holmes Rule # 5


First, in terms of primary source analysis remember to use those strategies! Second remember that you have the power to place the entire world at your students fingertips by integrating technology into your instruction. How have you been doing that so far? Are you incorporating collaborative learning through technology into your teaching?

Holmes Rules # 6
Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing. It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different. The Boscombe Valley Mystery

Applying Holmes Rule # 6


The interpretation of evidence and opening your students up to the process of historical investigation by selecting primary sources that support multiple interpretations is the richness that we can add to our classrooms. Recognizing Point of View, Bias, historical circumstance can enliven your students experience. Have you been using this in your instruction? If so how?

Holmes Rules # 7
There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you. The Hound of the

Baskervilles
Always make it a point to challenge your students with sources.

Applying Holmes Rule # 7


Sometimes the best units are the ones we have to work a little harder to develop. Be sure to use the research and lesson writing techniques you have acquired to infuse your lessons with new life and vitality. Delve into areas of hidden, forgotten or problematic history. In short: challenge yourself and the rewards will be even greater for your student detectives.

Fun Additions Elementary Eagles


Elementary teachers consider making your students library badges for the library when conducting interviews with librarians or interrogating sources such as reading primary sources or viewing historical cartoons or photographs.

Middle School Markers


Use historical markers and consider unleashing your middle school detectives on a campaign to make historical markers for the classes and other rooms in your school.

Set them out in the world!


Whether in the physical or virtual world have your students go out in search of historical mysteries. We are no longer limited to time and space!

In a nutshell
What is the content, concepts and skills your students should master? Problematize the content. Determine which content and sources will engage your students based on your standards. Decide on a logical strategy to approach the analysis. Reconsider the sources are there any other type of media you could employ?

Integrate collaboration and technology into the analysis and final product. Have students examine point of view/ bias and employ critical thinking. Add extension to the lesson by infusing research, writing and other skills to promote a dynamite finished product.

Brainstorming Time
What concepts are central to your standards? What documents or sources/ images etc. can we infuse into your classroom? How can we include collaboration and 21st century skills?

Thank You!
Questions? Comments? antfitz1976@gmail.com