Spotlight on 8th Grade English: Investigating the Mystery Genre with a Whodunnit Role Play

Shipley’s eighth graders participated in a murder mystery whodunnit role play as part of their mystery genre study in English class. Teachers Lila Corgan and Kirsten Small hope the activity deepens students’ understanding of some of the literary devices that define the mystery genre in a fun, social way.

The eighth graders also participated in a talk-back with the cast from the Hedgegrow Theater’s Tales from Poe film production, whose narrative encompasses a variety of Poe’s works, including “The Raven,” “Tell Tale Heart,” and “Cask of Amontillado,” all of which the eighth graders have studied over the past two weeks, in addition to Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” 

The objective of the eighth grade English course is for students to learn to write and speak with clarity, coherence, and thoughtfulness. Scaffolded skill sequences and common themes inform students’ reading, and relevant films, trips, articles, poems, and fun activities like whodunnit murder mystery role plays supplement the reading selections. Learn more about Shipley’s eighth grade curriculum.


The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.