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Teaching Paper Organization Murder Mystery

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					                                                          Organization Mystery Exercise
                                                                       By Dana Driscoll

        The exercise is a fun way to teach organization consisting of a set of disorganized
information which students must work together to analyze and organize to solve the
mystery. Students each receive 2 ―clues‖ which they read aloud. As a group they must
reorganize the clues and solve the mystery.
        The Organization Mystery Exercise is used to demonstrate to the students the
value and importance of organization of information in a paper. It is a good exercise to
do early in the semester to ―break the ice‖ with the group of students and get them
collaborating. The exercise can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the
number of students and personalities in the class.

Before class:
        Prior to class, cut out the small cards on pages 3 and 4 of this handout and
familiarize yourself with the series of events listed below. The list below is the correct
order of events and gives the ―solution‖ to the mystery. Note that some of the material
in the cards themselves is extraneous—this represents material in a paper that is off topic
and misleading in the paper.
        This exercise was designed for a class of 20 students. If you have a smaller
number of students, be sure to omit some of the extraneous material in the cards.

In Class:
        Arrange students in a circle. Introduce the exercise to the students by telling them
that they are a detective who has collected a bunch of random clues relating to a crime.
They must organize the clues to solve the crime. They must choose as a group as to how
to proceed. You can suggest that the students begin by each reading their two clues
aloud. It is often a good idea to set a rule that students cannot pass their clues on to
others (this keeps all students involved in the exercise). Pass out two cards to each
student.
        The teacher should take a very low-profile in this exercise—perhaps reading two
clues if necessary, but not actively giving directions. Of course, if you need to k eep the
group going with a hint or two of how to proceed, that is fine.

After the Exercise:
After the exercise, you can ask students to brainstrom as a class or in small groups about
what the exercise represented and how it relates to writing. Points to cover include:

      Importance of organizing information so it makes sense to the reader
      Importance of eliminating information that does not relate to the thesis
      Make sure your students understand that even though this particular exercise
       relies on a ―chronological‖ order of organization, many papers can also be
       organized thematically. Note that sometimes when I have ran this exercise in the
       past, students do end up organizing the clues based on a more thematic
       organization – i.e. clues that have time in them, clues from the hotel, clues about
       the man, etc.
The Solution:
    1.    A bald man checks into a hotel at 1 PM in the afternoon.
    2.    The bellboy takes the man’s suitcases up to Room 513, his room.
    3.    The man immediately leaves the hotel and takes a taxi to the diner.
    4.    The man waits at the diner for several hours.
    5.    While he waits, he shuffles through a black folder.
    6.    A black haired woman enters the diner and sits with the man.
    7.    Soon after, the two begin to argue.
    8.    The woman storms out of the diner with the folder. .
    9.    The man follows behind, cursing.
    10.    At 3 PM, the man returns to the hotel.
    11.   At 10 PM, the man orders takeout from a local Chinese restaurant.
    12.   The Chinese store delivers takeout 45 minutes after the order is placed.
    13.   All individuals who work at the Chinese restaurant wear red outfits.
    14.   At 10:30, the woman is seen entering the hotel with a black folder.
    15.    The elevator operator lets the woman off at the 5 th floor.
    16.    The Chinese delivery man enters the building.
    17.    He gets on the elevator and takes it to the 5 th floor.
    18.   An individual in Room 515 complains to a manager at 10:35 PM because of the noise in
          the next room.
    19.    At 10:55 PM, the Chinese delivery man takes the elevator to the first floor.
    20.    The manager knocks on the door of room 513 at 11 PM.
    21.    There is no answer at the door, so the manager leaves.
    22.    The man who checked into the hotel was not witnessed leaving the hotel that night.
    23.    At 9:30 AM, a cleaning staff member finds two bodies in Room 513.
    24.    The police identify both bodies as male.
    25.    Forensic evidence shows that the red outfit has blood stains belonging to one of the
          victims.
    26.    One victim is identified as the man who checked into room 513.
    27.    The second victim is identified as Chou Xu, owner of a local Chinese restaurant.
    28.    Both victims were found wearing only their underwear.
    29.    A crumpled dress splattered with blood is found in the bathroom.
    30.    A gun is found in the dumpster behind the hotel.

Extraneous Information
    31. Several banana peels are found in the hallway on the 5 th floor.
    32. The waitress at the diner reports that the man liked his tea extremely hot.
    33. The bellboy reports getting a $40 dollar tip from the man.
    34. The woman was wearing diamond earrings.
    35. The news reporter drives an SUV.
    36. The police officer in charge of the investigation is lazy.
    37. A butter knife is found in a trash can in the kitchen.
    38. The woman was not seen leaving the building that night.
    39. The receptionist insists the elevator operator falls asleep on the job.
    40. The elevator operator insists that the receptionist is in love with the bellboy.
The elevator operator insists that the          The woman was not seen leaving the building
receptionist is in love with the bellboy.       that night.


The police officer in charge of the             The waitress at the diner reports that the man
investigation is lazy.                          liked his tea extremely hot.


An individual in Room 515 complains to a        A crumpled dress splattered with blood is
manager at 10:35 PM because of the noise in     found in the bathroom.
the next room.


The manager knocks on the door of room 513      He gets on the elevator and takes it to the 5 th
at 11 PM.                                       floor.


Soon after, the two begin to argue.             The news reporter who drives an SUV got to
                                                the hotel at 11 AM the day after the crime.


At 10:30 PM, the woman is seen entering the     At 9:30 AM, a cleaning staff member finds
hotel with a black folder.                      two bodies in Room 513.


The woman was wearing diamond earrings.         The man immediately leaves the hotel and
                                                takes a taxi to the diner.


The woman storms out of the diner with the      Both victims were found wearing only their
folder.                                         underwear.


A butter knife is found in a trash can in the   The Chinese delivery man enters the building.
kitchen.


At 10:55 PM, the Chinese delivery man takes     A gun is found in the dumpster behind the
the elevator to the first floor.                hotel.


All individuals who work at the Chinese         The man follows behind, cursing.
restaurant wear red outfits.
Several banana peels are found in the hallway     One victim is identified as the man who
on the 5th floor.                                 checked into room 513.


At 3 PM, the man returns to the hotel.            The Chinese store delivers takeout 45 minutes
                                                  after the order is placed.


The man waits at the diner for several hours.     The receptionist insists the elevator operator
                                                  falls asleep on the job.


Forensic evidence shows that the red outfit has   There is no answer at the door, so the manager
blood stains belonging to one of the victims.     leaves.


The police identify both bodies as male.          The elevator operator lets the woman off at the
                                                  5th floor.


The man who checked into the hotel was not        The bellboy reports getting a $40 dollar tip
witnessed leaving the hotel that night.           from the man.


A bald man checks into a hotel at 1 PM in the     The second victim is identified as Chou Xu,
afternoon.                                        owner of a local Chinese restaurant.


While he waits, he shuffles through a black       A black haired woman enters the diner and sits
folder.                                           with the man.


At 10 PM, the man orders takeout from a local     The bellboy takes the man’s suitcases up to
Chinese restaurant.                               Room 513, his room.

				
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