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Notes for the Instructor

In this lesson, students revisit the letters written by Mr. Mugg’s students at the beginning of the school year. This time, they analyze the letters closely for clues about the suspects’ means, motives, and opportunities. At this point in the course, students may have solid ideas about who committed the crime. However, most will still have questions and “grey areas” where the evidence and possible means, motives, and opportunities for any of the suspects to steal the geocaching canister are unclear. Investigators, detectives, and police officers believe that in order to arrest a person for a crime, the investigation must have evidence, certainly, but it must also prove that the suspect has:

  • a way to commit the crime (means)
  • a reason to commit the crime (motive)
  • a chance to commit the crime (opportunity)

Interviews or personal written material can often provide vital information when investigating the means, motive, and opportunities of suspects in a crime. Sometimes an investigator will interrogate a suspect. Sometimes they will conduct an interview, and sometimes they gather suspect statements— either written or recorded.

In the activity, students organize and record any observations made and facts learned from the suspects’ letters. They will also learn new information from Mr. Mugg to help them toward developing a theory of the crime in the next, and final, lesson: Lesson 12: Case Closed: Analyzing Evidence.

The activities in this lesson address Next Generation Science Standards practices of Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Engaging in Argument from Evidence. In addition, they address Common Core State Standards CCSS.ELA Literacy.CCRA.SL.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy. CCRA.SL.4, and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1. See the Standards Matrix included in the appendix for more detailed information.