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Teach Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes and his adventures are sometimes read at school, now we have the chance to play them. Three games: The Silver Earring, Jack the Ripper and the Testament are ideal to practice English skills while players travel in time. All players need to have is a fairly good command of English to solve the crimes; the level of English needed varies slightly. Students experience some English history while they walk in London around 1880  (read also Tips to use digital games at school)                                                               

see how people used to live from two perspectives. One perspective has an overview of the whole scene, but changing to the other perspective gives players the impression of being Dr. Watson or Sherlock Holmes themselves. Interaction is possible with almost any character you see around. There are documents to read as well as a lot of traces to follow, students have to do a lot of thinking and be logical as they immerse in literature. One way of using the games in class would be to let students play at home regularly for a short time and have extra tasks to do at school just as they would do when reading a novel. In fact, to finish playing the games will take students about the same time as reading the novels. The idea is to "play" a chapter instead of reading it.       


I-             PLAY: Students aged at least 12 who live near each other build teams and play a chapter of a game together at home every week. Each team can play a different game. If your school offers the possibility, students could meet at school after school hours once a week and play the game there (game club) TIP: According to the size of class, groups of four could play with one game. The games cost about €10 each in Europe and around $10 in the USA. There are versions for xbox and computer.

II-            ORAL TASK: Teams report to the class weekly about their achievements, they could also answer questions made by the teacher or discuss the best ways to solve the crime. It doesn’t matter if students use online cheats or videos on YouTube showing solutions as the real task is reporting to the class or answering questions according to their age like:

  1.    How do people live in 1890?
  2.    Do all children in London go to school?
  3.    Are there any supermarkets?
  4.    What kind of place is Kensington/ White chapel? Who lives there?
  5.    Describe the dwellings.
  6.    What kinds of jobs are there?
  7.    Describe the hospitals.
  8.    What kinds of illnesses exist and how are patients treated?
  9.    Compare the hygienic conditions people live in now with the conditions then.
  10.    Which electric appliances did not exist at the time?
  11.    Which problems did poor people have?
  12.    Who are Sherlock Holmes/ Dr. Watson/ Professor Moriarty/ Inspector Lestrade?
  13.    What is Scotland Yard?
  14.    How old are the victims?
  15.    What do the villains want?

This task can go on for weeks and it is intended to practice English. Lessons covering the syllabus should go on as usual.

III-      ORAL AND WRITTEN TASK: Students could interview each other and ask about the case they investigated when they finish playing the games. (if you have more time, you could make a press conference every month to check on how investigators are getting on with the cases) Students play a press conference and interview Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and one Scotland Yard inspector in turns. Questions like the following are prepared by the "reporters" beforehand:

              Questions:                                                                Topic to review:

  1.   How long did it take you to realize who the murderer was?   (past and pronouns)
  2.   Who helped you most during the investigation?  (Past and question words)
  3.   How did you discover the body?   (simple past)
  4.   Why did you pretend…..?            (simple past)
  5.   Is it true that there isn’t….?         (negations)
  6.   According to the news he…..       (pronouns)
  7.   If you had the chance to change something, what would it be?     (if clauses)
  8.   Was anybody hurt while you….?    (simple past)
  9.   Have you seen Mr.    ?                  (present perfect)
  10.   Will you be  …?                           (forecasts)
  11.   Are you going to …?                    (future for plans)
  12.   Are you planning….?                    (Present continuous as future)
  13.   Mr. said that …. What do you think?  (Indirect speech)
  14.   Had you met… before you….?      (Past perfect and simple past)
  15.   Why was …….. killed?                  (passive voice)

Reporters have to make notes during the press conference to use later.

IV-          WRITTEN TASK: Finally Students “reporters” write newspaper articles at school giving details on how the cases were solved. The newspapers could be written and printed in class; later they can be exhibited on the classroom's walls and be marked.

V-           OPTIONAL TASK:  Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and Scotland Yard detectives could write their own story about how they solved or helped solving the cases.

Game trailers and details:

There are more Sherlock Holmes adventures to play with your classes. Why not give it a try?


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