Unit 6: Solving Mysteries: The Fenway Foul-up
Students explore the characteristics of a mystery, and how an author uses those characteristics to develop the plot, while reading about the American pastime of baseball in the text The Fenway Foul-Up.
In this unit, 2nd graders explore the genre of mystery—in conjunction with exploring the American pastime of baseball—by reading the mentor text The Fenway Foul-Up. Over the course of the unit, students will be challenged to think about and notice the characteristics of a mystery and how an author uses the characteristics of mystery to develop the plot. Students will also be challenged to think about what makes a good detective and how much information detectives need before they can be confident enough in their decisions to avoid unfairly or unjustly accusing someone of committing a crime. Students will also discover that being a good detective involves teamwork; teamwork makes everything easier because people are able to play off of each other’s strengths and differing perspectives. While the main focus of this unit is on understanding the mystery genre, students will also be learning a great deal about baseball and content-specific vocabulary associated with baseball.
At this point in the year, it is assumed that students are inquisitive consumers of a text and are able to identify and describe characters and plot events in a text Read Aloud or silently. Therefore, this unit focuses on pushing students to describe the overall structure of a story, particularly identifying and explaining how the characteristics of a mystery support the plot of a story. Students will also be pushed to go beyond just describing characters and will instead be pushed to explain how characters respond to major events and challenges, and how different characters have different perspectives on events and why. If there are other spiraling skills from Units 1 through 5 that have not been mastered, they should continue to be included in daily lessons to ensure that students are fully able to access and comprehend the text.
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Book: Ballpark Mysteries #1: The Fenway Foul-Up by David A. Kelly (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011)
Assessment Text: “The Pinstripe Ghost” by David A. Kelly and illustrated by Mark Meyers (Random House Books for Young Readers)
Book: F is for Fenway: America’s Oldest Major League Ballpark by Jerry Pallotta (Sleeping Bear Press, 2012)
This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
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Download Cold Read Assessment
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Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
To learn more about how to prepare a unit, internalize a lesson, and understand the different components of a Fishtank ELA lesson, visit our Preparing to Teach Fishtank ELA Teacher Tool.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Specific skills to focus on when giving feedback on writing assignments
Throughout the year, students have focused on a variety of sentence-level writing strategies that have focused on making their sentences stronger and clearer. In this unit, students will practice using a variety of sentence types, in particular to help them improve their topic and concluding sentences in a paragraph. Practicing different sentence types enables students to vary their sentence structure when writing, as well as reinforcing the use of correct punctuation as they write.
Students have had practice brainstorming details for a given topic sentence and filling in an SPO, as well as distinguishing a topic sentence from given details. Students will use their new knowledge of sentence types to help them generate a strong topic and concluding sentences when writing their newspaper articles.
At the end of the unit, students will use their knowledge of a mystery story to write their own mystery. They will brainstorm and outline their story, and then write a first chapter that introduces the characters, setting, and problem. When describing characters, they will use descriptive language to show and not tell how a character is feeling and what they are like. Additionally, students will include a “cliffhanger” to build suspense and encourage the reader to keep reading.
Like in the two previous units, the main focus of this unit is on reading with expression, particularly character dialogue, in order to show understanding of the text. In the core text, the character dialogue reveals a lot about a character’s motivation, feelings, and perspective; therefore, a large focus of this unit should be on including opportunities for students to practice rereading dialogue with intonation, expression, and volume to match interpretation of the passage.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 6, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Explain what makes Fenway Park unique by answering questions to demonstrate understanding of key details.
Describe three baseball-specific words and why they are important to the game by determining the meaning of words in a story and explaining how they are connected.
Explain how David A. Kelly starts the story The Fenway Foul-Up and why by describing the overall structure of a story, including how the beginning introduces the story and the aspects of a mystery.
Describe how Kate and Mike respond to the news that Big D’s bat had been stolen by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
Explain why the chapter was titled “Sunflower Seeds” by recounting key details in a text and describing the features of a mystery.
Identify the four different types of sentences and explain when they are used.
Write a newspaper article detailing what has been happening at Fenway Park by retelling key details and characters’ perspectives on events.
Describe Mike and Kate and how their different strengths make them a good team by describing how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
Explain what Kate means by “It’s probably been right in front of us all this time” by describing how characters respond to major events and challenges.
Explain if Kate and Mike are right to suspect Kevin or if they are unfairly jumping to conclusions about him by describing how different characters respond to major events and challenges.
Discussion & Writing
Explain if Kate and Mike are right to suspect the photographer or if they are unfairly jumping to conclusions about him by describing how different characters respond to major events and challenges.
Explain the significance of the sentence, “Suddenly, the pieces fell into place” by describing how different characters respond to major events.
Debate if Mike and Kate have solved the mystery and why by describing how characters respond to major events.
Explain why Kate and Mike were MVPs by determining the central message of a story.
Describe how David A. Kelly uses elements of mystery to develop the plot of the story by describing the overall structure of a story and how elements of mystery help drive the plot of a story.
Writing – 5 days
Brainstorm and write the first chapter of a mystery book that demonstrates an understanding of the story elements in a mystery.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Form and use frequently occurring irregular plural nouns (e.g., feet, children, teeth, mice, fish).
— Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.
— Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
— Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
— Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
— Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
— Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
— Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.
— Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
— Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
— Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
— Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
— Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.
— Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.
— Use commas in greetings and closings of letters.
— Use an apostrophe to form contractions and frequently occurring possessives.
— Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words (e.g., cage → badge; boy → boil).
— Consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings.
— Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
— Use knowledge of the meaning of individual words to predict the meaning of compound words (e.g., birdhouse, lighthouse, housefly; bookshelf, notebook, bookmark).
— Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe foods that are spicy or juicy).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
— Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
— Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2—3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
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