I love introducing students to the Harris Burdick Mystery Pictures. They make awesome writing prompts and tools for inferring. After we take an in-depth look at all the pictures I always have my students choose one to write about.
To start off I bring my students into the gym where I have scattered the posters around and the lights are dimmed. The posters are all flipped over so no one can see the pictures ahead of time. We gather in the middle of the gym where I have one of the pictures. I read my students the story of who Harris Burdick is and why the pictures are such a mystery. We then look at the poster I have with us. We talk about how the picture makes us feel and what other emotions it evokes. We make some inferences as to what is happening.
I then send students off to do the same thing with each of the posters that are scattered around the gym. At each poster is a pack of sticky notes for students to record their responses on. Students rotate freely throughout the gym until they have seen all the posters or time is up.
The next day I scatter the posters around the gym again and spread out their sticky notes by the posters. I get students in pairs and they are to take their partner to the poster that they connected with the most or the one that they had the strongest reaction to. They are to tell their partner why they chose that poster and then together they read all the sticky notes to see what others thought of it.
Once both partners have shared, we all gather as a group. Students are given a chance to share any thoughts they had about the posters. Before we leave as a group I explain to students how they are going to be writing a mystery about one of the posters and I give students one more chance to walk around and observe the posters.
For the next block of time, I again spread the posters in the gym and this time students go to the poster they want to write their mystery about. Students are given time to read the sticky notes and brain storm ideas for their story. Then it is writing time.
During our next few writing blocks students are working on their mysteries. Each time I give a mini lesson on features of mystery stories and have students focus on improving their mystery writing skills. I was absolutely shocked this year in the final products. Not only did ALL my students stay focused during writing time but they were fantastic stories. I wish that I had kept a copy of a few of them to share with you.
After all the stories were printed, students shared them with the class and then I created the following bulletin board.
We completed these in the spring for our Family Art and Writing night but they would be perfect for around Halloween time!
If you want to get the Harrick Burdick posters you can get them here