This semester I am teaching 16 classes on Criminals in History. Over the summer I was on vacation in Italy and went wine and olive-oil tasting at a villa just outside Florence. Part of the experience included a tour through the house which dated back to the 12th century. The house had belonged to the Pazzi family. On the tour we were taken into the Conspiracy Room. It was here, during the Renaissance, that a murder plot against the Medici family was hatched. As I heard the story I knew this would be great for my middle school class. The story would hold their interest and would be a fantastic way for them to learn about Renaissance Italy.
As I started mulling over how to make the lesson interactive and fun, I searched a bit online – and that’s when I found the fantastic lesson Mr Roughton created. I used it just as he suggested and it was a great success.
In a nutshell, students investigate 8 different pieces of evidence related to the murder of Giuliano de’ Medici and then come to their own conclusions about who was involved in the crime.
What to do before the lesson
1. I read through everything and researched more about the story of the murder and what happened afterwards.
2. If you don’t have good wifi (my problem) or your school blocks Youtube, be sure to download the 3 videos you will need.
3. Make copies of the documents the students have to look at. I just made them in black and white (color for some would have been nice – but that was beyond my budget). I made 4 copies of each evidence set as I have 30 students in my class so I wanted everyone to be able to have access to something at all times. I put each piece of evidence in a plastic sheet protector as I want to be able to re-use them.
4. I got a big roll of paper (from Office Depot) and lay face down on it and my daughter took a sharpie and outlined the “body”. (This was hard to do as our kittens wanted in on the fun! So the paper also ended up with multiple small claw holes!)
5. The Forensics teacher supplied me with police tape. You can buy it on Amazon.
6. I copied an Evidence booklet for each student.
How the lesson turned out
Fortunately I had the lunch break straight before this class, so I had time to set everything up. I happen to teach in the sanctuary of a church – and the murder took place in a church – so that was great! I put down the sheet with the body outlined and cordoned it off with police tape. Then I spread out the rest of the evidence around the room.
I made a Storie while the students were working. You can see how I turned off the lights at the start which is what Mr Roughton suggests – and I started the first video. The students were very quiet and engaged immediately!
I had 55 minutes for the lesson but as this was the first time I had seen these students this year I had to spend a few minutes at the start doing roll call and going over some things so that took some time away from the lesson. I gave the students about 20 minutes to work on their own investigating exhibits B through G and most of them didn’t get through everything. Quite a few got stuck on Exhibit D as they saw it was in Italian. I had to point out to them that many words were the same as the English words so they could actually figure it out.
The lesson was a success and it was so easy to do thanks to the work Mr Roughton put in to creating it. You can find everything you need here. Oh, and if you use it, drop him a note via his Contact form. I know he would appreciate that!
And come back and leave a comment here to let me know how it went!
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