Posts Tagged ‘CSI Adventure’

The last two weeks of school flew by and the old conundrum of how to keep the juniors focussed was resolved via using game-based learning as a springboard for creative writing (see previous post).  Overall I’m pleased with the outcome. Students were engaged, problem solved, clearly enjoyed the rewards system and options via levels, built glossaries of new words, received individual feedback and most importantly – all wrote a narrative based on the game. Technically, they weren’t all brilliant but most displayed a great deal of creativity and more than a bit of black humour …

The results are now proudly displayed on the back wall ready for another year.  I’ve included an excerpt below from a student (with her permission) who excelled in the task. Definitely on my list for next year …

photoI jumped as I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket. The message read “A new murder case has opened up, Rookie. Come down to the station and be prepared, it’s pretty gruesome. – Grissom.” My first ever case in the field and it’s a murder…great. I threw a jacket on and fumbled with my keys as I unlocked the car. In a few minutes, I had arrived at the station where I could see the team packing some equipment into the car as they hurried to get to the crime scene.

“Hey!” I yelled, catching Grissom’s attention.

“We’re almost done packing the car and we’re about to head to the crime scene.” said Grissom as he jogged over to me.

I followed him back to the car and got in the back with Agent Catherine Willows, Crime Scene Investigator and Firearms Examiner.

“So what’s happened?” I asked.

“A female’s body has been discovered in the forest by a few runners. The body has been mutilated and her lower half has been severed from her body.”

I was stunned by this horrific news and sat in silence as the car started up and we began our journey to the crime scene. I was suddenly nervous and was dreading what I was going to have to see. The blurred buildings outside the car window slowly changed to tall dark trees as we began to enter the forest. The car stopped a few meters away from a fence of police tape. I sat there looking out the window as cops ran around the scene.

“You coming Rookie?” questioned Grissom.

“Oh.. um.. yeah. Sorry.”

“It’s fine. The first murder case is always the hardest. Take your time.”

His words comforted me and I slowly took off of my seat belt and stepped out of the vehicle. I reluctantly wandered over to Willows, who was standing a few feet from the body. The victim’s tongue hung loosely from her mouth in the absence of a lower jaw. Dark and thick congealed blood covered her top half and was dried into her hair. Her lower stomach and legs were completely separate from her body and had been tossed to the side. Her intestines and stomach were lying on the forest floor around where she had been split in two. She was looking up at us with dead pleading eyes. I felt dizzy looking at the horrors of the murder. From the corner of my eye I could see a cop walking towards me.

“We haven’t found any ID but we’re guessing she’s in her early twenties. The estimated time of death was around 3am.”

I looked down at my watch. It was 9:30am.

“What about the runners who discovered the body?” I asked.

“They’re over there by the police car.” He said, directing me in the right direction.

I wandered over to the vehicle. Two young men were sitting in the back of the car under a blanket, trying to hide from the cold morning air.

“Hello. I’m Agent Stefany Howard. May I ask you a few questions?.”

They slowly nodded, both of them keeping their eyes to the ground.

“Thank you. What are your names?”

“I’m Rick and this is my friend Greg,” answered the dark brunette one, motioning to the sandy blonde.

“Nice to meet you. How did you discover the body?”

“We were going for our usual morning run and Greg noticed some blood on the fronds of some ferns that surround the forest track. He followed the trail and came to a small clearing where she was lying.”

Greg seemed to turn another shade paler as Rick retold the morning events.

“Have you ever seen this woman before?”

They both shook their heads in reply.

“What did you do once you discovered the body?”

“I called the police and I guess Rick heard me yelling so he came over to see what had happened,” whispered Greg.

“I see. You two have had a rough morning, but I’m afraid you’ll have to come down to the station with us for further questioning.”

They both nodded as they stood up and followed me to the vehicle. They sat down in the back seat under the blanket, like two frightened little kids.

“I’m going to need to collect some DNA from you,” I said.

“Go ahead.”

I took out some equipment and collected both of their fingerprints, a swab of their cheek cells and some hair from both of them.

“Thank you.”

I wandered over to Grissom, “Need any help with anything?”

“Not really, Rookie, the team has everything covered. Did you collect DNA evidence from the two runners?”

“Yeah I’ve got it.”

“Ok you head back to the station with Greg and Rick, we’ll be taking the body with us for a full autopsy and see if we can find any clues on her.”

I went back to the car and waited for the rest of the team to get in. Soon we were all set and Grissom drove us all back to the station. An old man with a bad leg was waiting for us at the station. It was the Chief Coroner, Dr Al Robins.

“Take the body inside and we’ll start the autopsy. Rookie you’re coming with me.”

I followed Dr Robins inside as the others carted the body in on a gurney. We lay the body down on the autopsy table and I started to sterilize the equipment. I noticed the alcohol in the sterilising tray was shaking slightly.

“Hey! I think there’s an earthquake!”

We ducked under the table but the shaking didn’t stop. Muffled screams could be heard through the walls of the station.

“What’s happening?!”

“I don’t know!”

I sprinted through the door and out into the station lobby. A red light was bathing the empty room. I could see the rest of my team standing outside of the station, staring at something.

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It’s been an exciting start to the year at a new school, topped off with the privilege of being allocated a trial ipad class of Year 10 students. This post is really an extended reflection of where I’m at, there they’re at and where we might be heading with ipads in an English classroom.

The first challenge was setting up the device. This entailed getting myself online via the school server as well as ensuring it would work at home. This was made simpler by my Year 11 students who completed all of the above in about 15 minutes – how they remember all the relevant settings is beyond me but I was grateful for their help!

The next step was familiarizing myself with navigation. Enter two ipod touting sons who quickly showed me the in and outs of finding my way around the device, uploading apps and creating folders on the desktop. 🙂

So what have we achieved? At this stage baby steps.

My class has access to a dedicated Koodle page via the school website. I update this weekly and promote it visually in class. Having an LMS is one thing but as I’ve learned, getting students to use it is another. To be specific – be explicit. They need to see it to connect with it. I also promoted the site to parents via email. Their page includes an introductory section with a document featuring links to websites I recommend students bookmark on their iPads. This includes online dictionaries, visual thesaurus, reading support sites, writing support sites, search engines as well as grammar and punctuation sites with interactive games – such fun!

Now this might not seem ipad specific yet but hang in there! At this stage my aim was to integrate the ipad with existing technologies in a bid to ensure students could hook into technologies relevant to their needs. I should add they are a mixed ability class. One of the big pluses of ipads has to be helping teachers provide differentiated learning opportunities. Now you’re interested?!

Next I set up a wide reading blog. Initially this was private and I emailed students invites to their school accounts. Part way through the term, take up was just two students out of 24 so I made the blog public to make it easier to access. This blog has examples of wide reading responses, suggested texts, links to sites about reading/books and the odd You Tube clip students could use for a visual response.

Although I later discovered we don’t accept posts as responses (schools have different policies on this – it is permitted in the Achievement Standard), the blog is a good resource if students are stuck for inspiration. I also promoted the blog to parents during interviews, many of whom were unsure what a reading response was.

In the first term we covered creative writing and a novel study. My big goal was to use a web adventure based on CSI investigation for them as a starter to their creative writing assessment. Unfortunately, I planned this unit of work over the summer holidays before I had the iPad so was gutted to learn the website wouldn’t load on an iPad because it needed flash 😦 Note to self: never talk up a digital learning opportunity until you’ve tested it…

I really think the class would have enjoyed a game-based approach to learning about characters and setting, and using that as a starting point for their writing. Similarly, the fantastic BBC Skills website I intended to use for grammar and punctuation doesn’t work on iPads so I had to find alternatives. Moving on (!) I incorporated iPads into lessons for:
1. Grammar and punctuation – Grammar Monster
2. Poetic devices testing– Quia
3. A shared glossy for novel – used EverNote to create and asked students to do the same using Evernote, Penultimate or Scratch. I placed a link to my glossary via Koodle in case students were away/behind.

Term 2 planned uses:
Now that I’m aware of applications and shortcomings, I plan to use the ipad more regularly in lessons. My aim is to do this as seamlessly as possible. At this stage I’ve earmarked the following apps/websites:
1. Quizlet – novel terms and content testing
2. Spell City – interactive games using the glossary created in term 1
3. Prezi – for a presentation on theme for film study
4. Animoto – as above
5. Four Pics One Word – general starter
6. Cartoon Studio – plot summary film/character study
7. Auto rap – turning film reviews into rap.
8. TED – as a start for non-fiction writing

9. Socrative – range of uses but the great thing is it can be used in real time by teacher and students.

Later in the year, I hope to use the ipads for sharing/analysing essays via Drop Box or Noterize. I‘m also hoping to create a private twitter feed for a character study of Romeo and Juliet, and would also like to use iPads collaboratively when preparing for exams.

So has it been worthwhile? I guess it’s early days. For me, the biggest thing has been upskilling in “my spare time” but as with all digital learning, sometimes trusting students to sort out small glitches i.e encouraging them to be the experts is the best way forward. Being brave and giving things a go is also really important. Not everything I planned worked so you just have to move on and find an alterative.

Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge to date is not technological but around appropriate usage in the classroom. If you thought FB was bad, wait until you have to deal with snapchat/tumblr. That’s an issue we’ll be working through this term with discussions underway about developing consistent rules across all subject areas. I’m not sure what that will look like in practice but if we don’t address that issue, the ipads are doomed to become just another device to police in the classroom which would be a real shame.

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