Who Did It?

Challenge your students to solve a mystery about a missing book!
Ages 8-10 / 30
min Activity
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  • Analyze a fictional scenario to practice recognizing and reassessing their assumptions as they learn new information
  • Explore how assumptions can influence someone’s behavior and emotions towards others, and understand the importance of gathering information and considering alternative perspectives

Supporting Research

Intellectual humility is an important ability to cultivate in students, as it empowers them to feel confident in their own knowledge while also being open to new ideas and information. During this activity, students will foster perspective taking and inclusivity to analyze a situation and explain their guesses about what may have happened, and reassess their answers as they learn new information.

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Activity Partners

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  1. Introduce the activity by explaining: “Today, our task is to think carefully before assuming things about others. I'll share a story about a misunderstanding that I had and how I could have avoided it. Last week, I saw a friend at the store, and he seemed like he was in a bad mood. Assuming he was upset with me, I left him alone and went home. Later, I learned that he had a difficult day at work, and I regretted not talking to him. I noticed he was upset, but I didn’t consider why he was feeling this way. I could have asked him how his day was, or offered my support. How do you think things might have turned out differently if I had gathered more information before acting? Now, we’re going to solve a mystery, while trying to be careful of any assumptions that we’re making along the way.” 
  2. Distribute a copy of the “Who Did It?” handout to students. Read the story on the first page, and consider having a few students act it out! 

    Then, ask students to write down who they think took the book, and invite a few students to share their ideas with the rest of the class. 
  3. Continue reading the story on the second page, and ask students to reevaluate their answer after reading Ana and Neal’s explanation. Invite a few students to share their ideas with the rest of the class, and describe whether their answer changed after learning the new information. 
  4. After students have made their final guesses, reveal the answer! 

    You might say: “The teacher asks the janitor and librarian if they noticed anything while they were in the hallway. To her surprise, the janitor says that he found the book while he was cleaning the classroom, and thought it belonged to the school library. He gave it to the librarian when he saw her in the hallway. Sara checks the shelves, and finds her book!”
  5. Engage students in a discussion by asking the following questions: 
    • How did Sara's assumption about someone stealing her book impact her behavior and feelings towards her classmates? What could she have done differently? 
    • How did learning new information change your thoughts about the characters and your initial answer to the mystery?
    • Have you ever misjudged someone's actions? What was your initial reaction, and how do you think this made the other person feel? Thinking back on this moment, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
    • Why is it important to be open-minded and reconsider our initial judgements or opinions?
    • What can we do to stop ourselves from making assumptions too quickly?

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.