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Students write a research paper here supporting their solution to an unsolved “48 Hours” TV show crime


Computers & Internet, Language Arts  



Title – Solve a Crime
By – Peggy Kinard
Primary Subject РLanguage Arts, Computers / Internet 
Secondary Subjects –¬†
Grade Level – 12


      The students will use their organizational skills to formulate a possible solution to an unsolved crime based on the television show

48 Hours

    . The student will then turn their research and hypothesis into an organized research paper.


    Virginia English SOL Curriculum Framework – Grade Twelve

    • Oral Language 12.1 (a-e)
    • Reading Analysis 12.4
    • Research 12.8 (a-d)

Required Materials:

  • Computer with Internet Access
  • Computer access to class discussion board
  • Data projector

Anticipatory Set:

  • The teacher will show a brief clip from the television show 48 Hours .
  • The teacher will then initiate questions:
    1. Do you feel that the detective’s prime suspect was guilty?
    2. What led the lead detective to the prime suspect?
    3. Name some of the clues that make you think the person should be or should not be the prime suspect.

Step-By-Step Procedures:

  1. The student logs on to the website for the television show 48 Hours .
  2. The student watches an unsolved video of the student’s choice. (The teacher may want to limit which videos the students may select based on content.)
  3. The student then logs on to a classroom discussion board and writes a brief paragraph on the crime of their choice.
  4. The student would then discuss the various theories they have via the discussion board. Those students choosing the same unsolved crime may work together in discussing a consensus of what really happened.

Kinesthetic Learners:

    The student would re-enact through role-play the detective interrogating the prime suspect.

Visual Learners:

    The student will benefit from role-play in the classroom, and from the assignment being video based.

Plan For Independent Practice:

  • The student will write a well-organized research paper based on their hypothesis of the crime, including how and why the crime was committed.
  • The student will present a five to ten minute presentation on their individual theory of the crime.


  • Discuss the first case for similarities and differences to the unsolved cases the students have chosen.


    The students will be graded 80% on their written research paper and 20% on their oral presentation.


  • Divide the students into groups to represent the main characters of the investigation.
  • Have a real detective as a guest speaker and have him give the students a cold case to solve.


    The teacher would send the students’ research papers to CBS News for a possible reply to the students’ hypotheses.

Possible Connections To Other Subjects:

    Students will be able to apply their critical analysis and organizational skills learned in English to other content areas such as history, science and mathematics.

E-Mail Peggy Kinard !

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