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Where is the renowned racehorse Silver Blaze on the eve of England's Wessex Cup; and who killed his trainer John Straker? Those questions face Sherlock Holmes as this 1892 short story opens. Put your students in place of the famed detective. Can they reconstruct the chain of events that Holmes eventually sees so clearly?
- the facts that Holmes deduces or discovers
- the suspected killers of John Straker
- the suspected whereabouts of Silver Blaze
- How did the class' solution compare to Holmes'?
- What critical evidence, if any, did Holmes reveal in part 2 that was unstated in part 1?
- How can the complete evidence list be used to eliminate the innocent suspects?
If your students are less able readers
If the readings are too lengthy for your students to handle, try this. Break part 1 into bite-sized segments, each no longer than what can be mastered by your students. Print each segment on an assignment sheet (here is a one I used in a middle school class). The merge feature of most modern word processing programs makes this manageable. Give one to each student; making sure to keep track of who has which segment. In the proper order, ask each student to read his or her segment. After each reading, have the class add whatever it can to the three lists you're generating. If all students have read before part 1 is complete, distribute more segments and continue as before. Once you've finished part 1, review the lists and try to solve the mystery. Go on to prepare segments from part 2, and have students read them aloud as before. Once finished, use the discussion questions above to wrap up.
For more Sherlock Holmes
The Sherlockian Holmepage contains links to everything Holmes on the web. As almost all of the novels and stories are now in the public domain, you'll find many links to text you can use in class or for student research assignments.
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original web posting: Sunday, June 10, 2001
last modified: Monday, May 04, 2009