The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Twin Falls School District
Content Area Objectives Addressed:
Students will read the book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, with their teacher.
Students will collaborate with a third grade partner and create together a story following the Harris Burdick formula.
Students will illustrate their individual story in the same fashion as Chris VanAllsberg.
Technology Objectives Addressed:
Students will be able to:
1. successfully use the movie button on a digital camera
2. become proficient in the use of the AlphaSmart
3. use file management techniques to save work from the AlphaSmart
4. transfer files from the AlphaSmart to Word application.
5. open their saved Word document and edit their story sent from the AlphaSmart. This involves background colors, fonts, size, and boarders.
6. access and send e-mail.
was the process that your students went through to complete this lesson?
I discussed literary elements with the students.
We talked about fantasy and mystery.
We reviewed “plot” from previous stories.
We reviewed character setting.
I explained that we would be doing a project with Mrs. Sato’s third
grade class. I told them that we
would read The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
We shared our remembrances of Ms. Roberts, our vice-principal,
introducing us to this book during the winter.
I read the introduction to the story:
One day a
publisher receives a visit from a mysterious man who left a series of pictures
and one sentence with him. The man,
Harris Burdick, agreed to leave the artwork overnight with the publisher.
He would return the next day with the rest of the stories and see if the
publisher was interested in them. Harris
never returned, and the publisher kept the pictures, wondering about the
“untold stories” that had disappeared
Over the years, the publisher’s children had written many stories to go
with the unclaimed pictures.
Chris Van Allsburg was invited to the home of Peter Wenders, he discovered
fourteen drawings that were, like pieces of a picture puzzle, clues to larger
pictures. But the puzzles, the mysteries, presented by these drawings, are not
what we are used to. They are not
solved for us, as in the final pages of a book or a film’s last reel.”
(inside cover of the book)
Mrs. Sato and myself read the book to the students in two groups.
We discussed the “mood” of the text and the pictures. We studied the
light and shadows on the pages. We
also examined how the neutral colors added to the mystery. We discussed how art
(illustrations) could enrich the words of a book and extend the story.
I was working with 50 students and one other teacher.
I worked with half the group at a time.
I explained the whole process to both groups and then split into two
sessions. One group stayed with me
and worked in pairs (one third grade student and one fourth grade student). Each
pair was assigned a page from the book. Their
assignment was to finish the story. They used the AlphaSmarts to write their
story. When they finished, the
story was transferred to a Word document.
While the students waited for others to finish, they returned to their
desks and worked on an assignment. They worked individually on a prediction as
to where Harris Burdick actually ended up.
As they finished this assignment, they met in groups with Miss Rehn (bit
teacher from CSI) and shared.
The other half went with Mrs. Sato and worked on an individual
assignment. They were to create
their own title and sentence. An
illustration was to be included, also. They
worked on a rough draft first, and then applied that to a finished product.
The students were told that the finished pages would be put together to
form a book and given to Mrs. Roberts.
10. After both groups finished their tasks, my room began to edit each story. These stories were then sent to Mrs. Roberts via e-mail.
did you monitor student progress?
I facilitated both groups by roaming the room and joining pairs to read work in progress. I also checked papers as they came in.
there a template or an example that students were expected to follow?
Harris Burdick story assignments
Harris Burdick rough draft
much time did you dedicate to this project?
Total- 25 hours and 45 minutes
15 - 30 minutes in Barnes and Noble looking for Harris Burdick
15 - 2 hours 30 minutes- creating
and designing forms and making classroom copies
15 - one hour and 45 minutes
Internet search for Harris Burdick sites and lessons
16 - 3 hours planning lesson
and discussing plans with Mrs. Sato. Discussed procedure for including her
students with disabilities. Partners
were chosen to ensure success. More
BSU forms copied and given to Mrs. Sato (yes, this is a Sunday!)
5 - 15 minutes to show three students how to take movies with digital camera so
they can film Mrs. Sato and me reading to classs
5 - one hour- read book to class
and discuss first stage of the project
9 - one hour Internet research-
plot, character development, mysteries (found great stuff, time to quit!)
9 - one hour preparation for
lesson- lining up stations and cutting paper
9 - one hour
(1:00 to 2:00) First session
of project- half the class with me and half is with Mrs. Sato.
9 and 10 - 2 hours working with
disks and saving each story
10 and 11 - 4 hours – each
student editing their story- some stayed after school by choice!
11 - one hour Second session (BSU
Taping) 45 minutes of interview and
talking with Stan
12, 15, and 16 - 3 hours-
Finish editing and sending individual stories by e-mail
Approximately 2 more hours of free class time for individuals to finish drawings and titles
1 and a half hours compiling and binding book (made copies of pages to keep)
was the final product presented?
A spiral bound mystery book created by Room 11 and Room 12.
was the audience for the final product?
The classroom and the vice-principal were the audience.
prior knowledge was required on the part of the students in order for them to be
successful in this project? (include curriculum and technology knowledge)
Students needed to know some basic information concerning literary elements of a story.
needed to know file management in order to save and retrieve stories. (not even
one was permanently lost!)
needed to know how to use an AlphaSmart.
needed to know how to transfer information from AlphaSmart to computer.
needed to know how to create rough drafts and then turn in a final copy.
needed to know how to write a paragraph with topic sentence and supporting
was the student to computer ratio?
Fifteen AlphaSmarts to 28 students. Four computers to 27 students
did you schedule your students’ computer time?
We made a huge effort to block several times during one week. Mrs. Sato and myself planned our sessions carefully so the students would have time to finish, but not get too restless. We used fifteen AlphaSmarts at a time and one computer for transfer. Throughout the week four computers were used for editing.
was the location of the computers and other technology equipment used by
The computers and AlphaSmarts were in my classroom.
would you suggest beginning teachers obtain computer resources for their
students? (Knowing some of your strategies would be valuable for our pre-service
I would suggest letting desires and wishes known to your supervisor. Sometimes equipment is available that only administrators are aware of.
Also, watching for grants available proved extremely valuable in my circumstance.
Attending conferences can be helpful in locating ideas and resources.
be afraid to try new things!
the level of access for students to use computers/other technologies as they
needed --high, medium, low
High- due to availability of AlphaSmarts (We did need to get an infrared device attached to one computer in order to read data.)
the level of supervision required for students during the project, specifically
for computer and other technology use –high, medium, low
Medium for the majority
hardware was required for your project?
PC- Four worked out o.k.
Fifteen to twenty AlphaSmarts
software was required for your project?
Microsoft Word and e-mail
kind of assessment did you use for this project? (Include a copy if you can.)
I used their individual creations that were put together to make a book. I also used the saved stories sent to Ms. Roberts..
categories did you assess? (I.e.:
content, screen design, depth/breadth, etc.)
Content of stories
does the product that you submitted
compare with other students’ products for this same project?
The quality of each individual slide depended on the ability of the student.
did you like best about this project?
I had a blast with this project.
I liked the creativity the students used in designing their stories and illustrations.
I really like the bond created between third grader and fourth grader (they talked at recess and in the halls).
I liked seeing them learn something new. They felt important sending E-mail!
did the students like best about this project?
They seemed to really like working with another class. And of course, they liked using the AlphaSmarts.
They also liked sharing a part of themselves with our vice- principal.
They really seemed to enjoy creating the stories.
the level of student involvement in this project –high, medium, low
the level of student interest in this project –high, medium, low
you teach this lesson again?