The 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results showed that one in five pupils had serious difficulties in developing sufficient reading skills while in some countries up to one third of adults are proficient at only the lowest levels in literacy and numeracy. In order to provide robust solutions that support the engagement of school students in literacy activities, teachers need to find a synergy between reading approaches, pedagogy and engagement so to boost learning in their classrooms.
The eMysteries project [Detective Stories to Engage Students in Close Reading with the Use of Mobile Devices-2019-1-DE03-KA201-060127] which is funded by the Erasmus+ aims to support upper secondary school teachers to enhance the literacy skills of their students by actively engaging them in close reading activities. The project is based on the idea that technological advances can dramatically improve learning and bring digital content to students. In particular, as the Internet has become prominent in young people’s culture, mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets are increasingly pervasive, especially in student populations. In 2016, 91% of young people in the EU made daily use of the Internet, compared with 71% for the whole EU population (Eurostat, 2017). At the same time, mystery detective stories are popular among young people essentially because students are attracted to the examination of the different aspects of a detective story while they also enjoy the effort made for solving the mystery. Additionally, detective and crime stories not only link up with the reading interests of both sexes, they are also suitable for promoting reading skills after primary school to create a basis for more "demanding" genres.
For this purpose, the eMysteries partnership has developed a Toolbox on Close Reading Mystery Detective Stories. The eMysteries Toolbox seeks to move young people away from the fast processing of information associated to the digital medium and invite readers to experiment with slower, more concentrated processes of reading, such as close reading. In detail, close reading mystery detective stories is presented as a way to boost students’ deep reading comprehension. In particular, the multimodal channels of text presented in the Toolbox are an example of what young students may find appealing today. Reading is thus capable of mobilising knowledge from different fields in the students’ experience.
The eMysteries Toolbox was designed and developed based on a participatory approach which encouraged greater participation and involvement of the project’s stakeholders. In particular, the content was informed by data which were collected from 26 upper secondary school teachers from 5 European countries (Germany, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus) who took part in an online survey and a focus group discussion. The Toolbox offers stand-alone Modules on Mystery Detective Stories (Module 1), Teaching Mystery Detective Novels (Module 2), Close Reading (Module 3) and Creative Writing of Mystery Detective Novels (Module 4). These Modules can be read as a sequence of suggestions for teachers on how to work with mystery detective stories through close reading in an entertaining, interactive way for students.
The Toolbox is available in an interactive flipbook format in English, German, Greek, Spanish, and Portuguese. It can be downloaded or viewed online here: https://emysteries.eu/en/outputs
You can also visit the eMysteries Facebook page for more information and news related to detective fiction and digital media.