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     As the new school year got underway teachers across the county were tasked with implementing engaging and exciting activities for their students.  Ms. Kimberly Cuddington, 6th grade math teacher, took that challenge and her students benefited from it greatly.  Before the new JoCo2020 initiative, which promotes relationships, relevance and innovation, students might have learned scientific inquiry by writing down steps to the scientific method or listening to a lecture and completing a worksheet or word search.  Not anymore. Ms. Cuddington shrugged off the antiquated sit and get methods of teaching and decided to spark students’ curiosity with a learning activity called Who Did It to Whodunnit? This activity allowed students to solve a murder mystery while simultaneously incorporating science, inquiry and even reading and writing.  Students were tasked with solving Dr. Whodunnit’s murder by analyzing finger prints, reading and writing about suspect motives, performing pen chromatography (which is ink analysis) and chemical analysis.

     The goal was to teach scientific inquiry and it was a resounding success. Ms. Cuddington said “The students loved the opportunity to work together to solve the mystery and I loved seeing them analyzing material, making inferences and drawing conclusions all while having fun.  It’s always nice when you can make learning a part of something that is fun and relevant to the kids you are working with. We want to encourage these higher level learning skills, like analyzing, and including them as part of a larger theme always helps to make them real and understandable to the students.”

     Activities like these will become the norm at Selma Middle School as teachers and administrators work to increase the rigor of classes and make the information relevant to students’ real lives.  As the school pushes toward realizing the tenets of JoCo2020 the community will be sure to see more innovation and excitement for learning coming from the Selma Vikings.

Emily Shelton