Why do they keep murdering people in my classroom?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ever since I staged the Boston Massacre in my classroom, my seventh graders have been begging for a similar experience. I was going to wait for 8th and make it a rite of passage and then I asked myself, "Why?" Exploration should not be saved. I knew I wanted to do something with Julius Caesar and I totally lucked out to find exactly what I needed on a fabulous website run by an amazing Mr. Kevin Roughton. He is an amazing teacher (whom I have never met; I'm entirely an online groupie). Who puts ALL of his resources for Ancient World History online for free. To say that his work is engaging and amazing is an understatement. I have been using his interactive notebook ideas all year and was excited to give one of his activities a whirl. I decided to do his Cold Case: Rome activity, which would have the kids decide the true motive for Caesar's death; was it to save the empire, was it jealousy, or did Caesar actually know all about it and decided to die in a blaze of glory? His lesson includes an amazing launch video he created and 12 different stations with evidence at each. What is fabulous, is that he made the autopsy report look like an autopsy report, quotes from bodyguards looked like affidavits, etc. I decided to out my mark on it and start with a hook. The kids had a basic day close reading and foldables ahead of them but each table got to spend ten minutes taking detective notes on a mysterious scene of a crime that had shown up the night before.

As they were observing and taking field notes, I heard one of my reluctant kiddos lean over to another one and say, "Man, Wilkins always goes big or goes home." Yeah! Win for me! At the end of class we discussed our observations and linked it with any background knowledge the kiddos already had.


The next day they walked into 8 stations. I launched the activity with my own launch video that I made with iMovie and my fabulous app that I couldn't gush over more, Green Screen by Do Ink.


They then spent about five minutes at 8 stations answering two to three questions per station. One station was a video and another was an audio recording.


At the end, the kids had to choose one of the three motives an write an endictment with textual evidence. Voila! It's a Common Core activity in disguise.

The kids had an amazing time and we will totally be doing this again. Check out Mr. Roughton's website....you will not be disappointed!!



  1. I love Mr. Roughton's web site too! Perfect ideas for ISN assignments. I'm looking forward to doing your Boston Massacre next year.

    1. Thanks! He's given me a lot of ideas to make it even better!

  2. We did this too! We set up a all of the stations (Lamintated all of the evidence so that the lasted 300 7th graders using them in 2 days) and had special "evidence" envelopes at each station. We used the laptop cart so the kiddos had plenty of time to watch the videos and listen to the recordings. I also did his "House: Black Death" activity. Kids LOVED both of them. Really got them thinking. I think I'd like to set up the crime scene though for next year.

  3. This looks amazing! Thank you for sharing, I came across this while Googling resources for Caesar. I am starting Julius Caesar with my 10th graders this week and I couldn't be more excited to try this out. I think even 16 year olds will get in to this activity as an introduction to the play.

    Your students are lucky to have you :)