Sherlock Holmes Volume 1: the Trial of Sherlock Holmes
Lesson plan by Dr. Katie Monnin
When you finish reading Sherlock Holmes Volume I: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes, you will find a wealth of classroom-friendly material. Here’s a quick overview: an essay from a scholar who passionately studies all-things Holmes, a note from the author, a few character design sketches from the illustrator, a script-only version of this graphic novel with notes for the artist, and, finally, a reprinting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot,” illustrations by Aaron Campbell.
Using Wiggins and McTighe’s theory on backward design (2005) let’s now consider how these elements can supplement your teaching of this graphic novel. Thinking backward, it seems as though you have some helpful resources that shed light on the composition process involved in making this graphic novel. As such, these resources can also be used as springboards for writing assignments in middle school and high school ELA. From the beginning chapter until the end, the reader is well aware that Sherlock Holmes stands accused of murder. Thus, the rest of the story involves both a present-time investigation of the crime scene, and a series of flashbacks about the past crime itself. With the IRA/NCTE standards that focus on writing in mind and the material in the back of the book as a resource, ask students to first read and then conduct research on not only the genre of detective fiction, but also on how the players in the creation of this particular Holmes story constructed this particular work of detetctive fiction. Or, if you want to stress creative writing, ask students to rewrite (or copy change) different sections of the story, ultimately piecing their rewritings together with the original text.
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plot: Sherlock Holmes is put in jail for murder
Setting: London, England
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Sir Samuel Henry, Detective Inspector Davis, Baron Lothair, Inspector Lestrade, Sir Bradford, Mrs. Hudson, Alfie Sproats, Mr. Mycroft Holmes, Commissioner Bradford, Dr. Showers
Themes: Mystery, Suspense, Loyalty, Belief & Disbelief, Trust, Friendship, Deception
Traditional Literature Pairing Suggestions: any number of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s texts, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Our Mutual Friend and/or Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle School & High School English Language Arts
Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):*
- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE
4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
8. Students use a variety of technological and informational resources to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.
Suggested Writing Strategies:
Monnin, K. (2010). Teaching Graphic Novels. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House.
NCTE/IRA. (1996). Standards for the English Language Arts. Urbana, IL: NCTE.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. New York: Prentice Hall.
Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.