Overview

This lesson, designed for the language arts class, stresses critical thinking skills, particularly making inferences. Mystery Bag provides an opportunity for individual writing activities, justifying responses, and making spread sheets.

Student Pages

Online Student Activity

Introduction

The driving question, "If you were going on a mystery trip of an unknown time frame and could pack only one small bag, what would you take?" requires students justify their choices and design a simple spreadsheet.

Student Outcomes

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

Content Area and Grade Levels

Grade level: 6th ­ 8th. Content Area: Language Arts This unit was designed and successfully used with students in grades 6-8 who have specific disabilities in reading and written language. In addition, some students carried an additional diagnosis of communication disordered and/or ESL. Adaptations for these needs are written into the lesson. However, this lesson works equally well with a regular education class.

Technology Usage

Resources

Online

Materials

Make sure all items do not look new. Ideally, there should be at least 12 items in the bag.

Worn duffel bag with at least the following items:

Reward poster

Preparation

Prepare the mystery bag and reward poster prior to activity.

Tasks

Activity 1:

  1. Place the mystery bag in a prominent place in classroom so that students notice it as they enter the classroom.
  2. Explain it was found near a bus station.
  3. Open the bag and examine contents. As each item is taken out, place it on a flat surface where students can see it.
  4. Elicit conversation about the bag from class. Who do they think this bag belongs to? What evidence supports their thinking? Does the owner of the bag speak a language other than English?
  5. Direct students to write a one-page description of the owner of the duffel bag, based on inferences made from the contents of the bag.

Activity 2:

  1. Review events from the previous activity.
  2. Pose the driving question, "If you were going on a mystery trip of an unknown time frame and could pack only one small bag, what would you take?"
  3. Direct the students to make a list of 10 things they would take. Remind them that all 10 items must fit into a duffel-size bag, and that they may be traveling to a place that does not have electricity. They will need to justify their choices.
  4. Group students. Each group needs one scribe and one reporter.
  5. Instruct each group to compare similarities and differences with each list, recording on paper and then on the spreadsheet.
  6. Photocopy each group's spreadsheet making one copy for each group.
  7. Instruct groups to add the data from all other groups to make a master list.
  8. Each group writes a story about the mystery trip incorporating ten items found in a personal duffle bag.

Presentation

Each group will share its story with the class.

Assessment

Students can be assessed on their participation in the group activities as well as on their performance in the critical thinking and writing activities.

Downloading and Printing Files

These pages can be downloaded to your computer as files. Files can then be opened and printed. You can choose from two file formats:

Microsoft document format opens the files in Microsoft Word. You can make changes in the pages before printing them.

Acrobat Reader or Portable Document Format (pdf) opens the files in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Pages cannot be edited in this format. However, .pdf files are less likely to be distorted. Pages that contain graphics or large images look better in .pdf and print very nicely. For your convenience, Acrobat Reader can be accessed from this page.

Microsoft Word (.doc)

Mystery Bag -includes all materials and student pages.

Reward Poster

Sample Spreadsheet

Acrobat Reader (.pdf)

Mystery Bag -includes all materials and student pages.

Reward Poster

Sample Spreadsheet

About Acrobat Reader

Files in the .pdf format can be read using Acrobat Reader. Acrobat Reader is a free software. You can download and install it by clicking on the link below.

GO TO: Acrobat Reader Download Page

Standards