Classroom Ideas

By Karen Batchelor

For several reasons, in Murder at Ocean View College, there are purposely no questions at the end of each chapter.
“Written in a clear, direct, and concise style, this thriller should appeal to English language learners, adult ESL students, and young adults interested in criminal justice careers. The vocabulary will stretch students without intimidating them. It's easy to imagine immigrant and community college students enjoying the book, particularly since the main characters resemble them in so many ways.

“Karen Batchelor, an experienced ESL author, knows both her subject and her target audience. Murder at Ocean View College should develop a loyal following among both educators and students.... It's a winner!”

— Eric H. Roth, author of Compelling Conversations
First I wanted the book to be a real novel. Second I wanted teachers to feel free to use it as they saw fit. Third I wanted students to just experience the joy and pleasure of reading without the tasks teachers often assign.

Teachers have asked, however, how I use this book with my students. Generally, I assign about fifteen pages to be read at home. When students return to class, I divide them into discussion groups of four or five people each. Their first task is to briefly introduce themselves to the other members of the group. Then they are to "review/refresh" the segment of the story in this section. After about ten minutes, I hand out a set of about five to seven questions, one paper per group, so that they are talking and not just writing silently. They are easy questions to trigger discussion and to help the students who may have had a harder time understanding the text.

Here are some sample questions for chapters one to three.

1. List the characters we meet in this section. Choose an adjective to describe each one.
2. Whose body did they find? Where was it?
3. Why is Captain Mitchell unhappy with Danny and Jade?
4. Who is Crystal? Describe her.
5. What do you think Danny and Jade’s relationship is?
6. What did you not understand in this section?
7. What did you like about this section?

I have found that in their groups, students often get engaged in re-telling the story section to the other members of their group. This practice encourages
“Sometimes boisterous and sometimes tender, this whodunit has excellent pacing as the protagonists surreptitiously entangle themselves in intriguing affairs. It keeps the reader on the edge of the seat, anxious to turn to the next page. Full of emotion, it cleverly utilizes psychology, jealousy, empathy, wrath and revenge. It paints beautiful contrasts in mindfulness between the characters. As the plot thickens, so does the intensity.”

— Robert Schuricht, City College of San Francisco
those few who have not read the assignment to do so, and there are always a few who have read ahead, and sometimes finished the whole book over the weekend. I tell them that it is OK to read ahead, but not to spoil the story for those who haven't finished.

After about fifteen or twenty minutes, I bring the attention of the whole class forward again, and I lead a whole-class discussion, asking what they think, what they liked/didn't like and what they think might happen next.

My goal is for students to enjoy reading something on their own and to experience the satisfaction of having read a complete novel in English.

Learn more about Murder at Ocean View College, or order your copy today.

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