[PHOTO] Classroom Investigations

CLARK — Students in Ms. Hamilton’s 8th grade English classes at the Carl H. Kumpf Middle School in Clark have been reading Lois Duncan’s 1966 novel, Ransom, which revolves around the kidnapping of five students from the safety of their school bus. The story is told from multiple points of view and students are introduced to the emotions and insights of each of the characters.

In order to make some new text-to-world connections, the classes took part in an investigation project. The class was split into four groups and each group was assigned a high-profile kidnapping case from the database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Students played the roles of detectives as they read the initial police reports and further investigation reports for the Lindbergh, Weyerhaeuser, Weinberger, and Hearst kidnapping cases. They completed graphic organizers detailing the events of the kidnapping, the events that transpired as a result of the kidnapping, and the details about the victim(s) involved. The students were then given the “suspect” reports for each case and were provided with questions that would help them to make inferences about the motives of each of the kidnappers. Once the students had chosen their prime suspects, they were provided with the “case closed” reports so that they could see how the sagas ended.

Following the investigation projects, the students were asked to draw parallels between the kidnappers from Lois Duncan’s novel as well as from these real-life FBI investigations.


Pictured above, Alessia Vorrius, Sarah Dos Santos, Natalie Carnovale, Alexa DePinho, and Michael Sevell compare notes and evidence to decide if their victim/criminal, Patty Hearst, should be charged for her crimes. Patty Hearst had been considered a victim of Stockholm Syndrome after her kidnapping in 1974. (Photo courtesy of Clark Public Schools)


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