Local Author Inspires Fifth Grade Students to Write Their Own Mysteries

If you have been following my blogs, you know that I have had the pleasure and wonderful experience of working with a fifth grade teacher, Trish Roberts, in Steward School in Garden City, L.I.,N.Y.

Ms. Roberts has written an article about the adventure in the local town paper, The Garden City News.

I have included the article in its entirety for your interest in literacy initiatives, and the pleasure of hearing about students who love to read.

Local author inspires fifth grade students to write their own mysteries

BY TRISH ROBERTS

Local Author Inspires 5th  Grade Students to Write Their Own Mysteries

By:  Trish Roberts

The nitty-gritty of writing a mystery story.
The nitty-gritty of writing a mystery story.

Ms. Linda Maria Frank, author of the Annie Tillery Series, greeted students and parents at a recent author’s night at Stewart School.   The students in Mrs. Dratch and Mrs. Roberts’ class enjoyed meeting her because they had just finished a literary study of her books.  After the literature unit, each student wrote Ms. Frank a personal letter, explained what they liked to read and what specific things they enjoyed about her books.  The students were ecstatic when Ms. Frank responded to each of them with a personal letter.  They were even more excited when they learned that Ms. Frank was going to visit their class and teach them how to write their own mysteries.

In her Mystery Writer’s Workshop, Ms. Frank explained, “If you want to be a good writer, you have to be a good observer, absorber and reader.  You have to tell a good story.”  She went on to describe how her inspiration to write developed from her childhood passion for Nancy Drew books and the popular television series, CSI.  Before starting her writing career, Ms. Frank was a science teacher; teaching biology, chemistry and forensic science.  She was awarded the Seaford High School Teacher of the Year in 1989.   Ms. Maria Frank also received an award from the American Association of University Women for inspiring young women to pursue the field of science. Her passion for writing excited and motivated the students.

Ms. Robert's Fifth Grade Class.
Ms. Robert's Fifth Grade Class.

The workshop continued with Ms. Frank describing how important it is, when writing a mystery, to create a problem and solution and develop logical, recognizable clues. Melina was curious and asked “How do you develop the red herrings in your stories?”  Ms. Frank explained that a mystery is more interesting when all your clues don’t point to one suspect.  She finished her ‘Art of the Story’ PowerPoint presentation by telling the students how important it is to focus on the questions: who, what, where, when and why.  She also stressed that it’s very important to think of the what ifs when writing a mystery.

When Ms. Frank gave the students their assignment, the real fun began.  They were asked to read the mystery, “The Skeleton in the Old Lighthouse” and to become true detectives by analyzing the information and identifying the crime scene, suspects, clues and evidence. The students enthusiastically started to analyze the text.  Eventually they would be able to write their own mysteries by finishing the story.

Ms. Frank continued to encourage the students as she ended the workshop. “Write about what you know, what you are interested in.” she said.  The students were excited to start writing and promised to send her their finished mysteries. “I really liked the presentation. I didn’t know the parts of a mystery before, but now I do.  I think I can write my own mystery.” Sophia explained.  “She even gave us some opening sentences to use.” said Joe.

“So then let’s get writing.” said Mrs. Roberts!

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