Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Logic Class

At last things seem to be coming together better for my logic class!  I still have some parents helping perhaps a bit too much with the Mind Bender puzzles, but I'm hopeful that the children are getting the hang of figuring those out on their own....

For this week's class, I asked them to read "The Speckled Band" from their Sherlock Holmes book.

I had them fill out a survey from, checking off the elements of a detective novel that they found within the story as they read (jotting down a couple of references to help them remember specific details of what the clues were, etc.)

The form is from a Scholastic teacher lesson plan unit on exploring the mystery genre:


Here's the info page for the entire unit, which has many useful worksheets as well as good info:


We discussed more about induction/deduction with regard to this story by looking at  how Holmes knew that the lady "came in by train."  

[Deductive reasoning applies general principles to reach specific conclusions, whereas inductive reasoning examines specific information, perhaps many pieces of specific information, to derive a general principle.

Both types of reasoning are routinely employed. One difference between them is that in deductive reasoning, the evidence provided must be a set about which everything is known before the conclusion can be drawn. Since it is difficult to know everything before drawing a conclusion, deductive reasoning has little use in the real world. This is where inductive reasoning steps in. Given a set of evidence, however incomplete the knowledge is, the conclusion is likely to follow, but one gives up the guarantee that the conclusion follows. However it does provide the ability to learn new things that are not obvious from the evidence.]

Here's more information on Deductive vs. Inductive reasoning:


I asked them to look up the following vocabulary and bring their answers to class so that we could discuss it:

pg. 74 "knock you up"

pg. 75 dog-cart (I showed them some pictures of these and we discussed)

pg. 82 staples

pg. 91 bell-rope


- both of these words and the one on the next page are essential for you to understand if you wish to try to figure out what is happening prior to the end of the story!

pg. 93 dog "lash"

Can you guess now what happened to the lady in the room?  

I asked them to think about this part of the story:

"When you combine the ideas of whistles at night, the presence of a band of gipsies who are on intimate terms with this old doctor, the fact that we have every reason to believe that the doctor has an interest in preventing his stepdaughter's marriage, the dying allusion to a band, and, finally, the fact that Miss Helen Stoner heard a metallic clang, which might have been caused by one of those metal bars that secured the shutters falling back into its place, I think that there is good ground to think that the mystery may be cleared along those lines."
"But what, then, did the gipsies do?"
"I cannot imagine."
"I see many objections to any such theory."
"And so do I. It is precisely for that reason that we are going to Stoke Moran this day. I want to see whether the objections are fatal, or if they may be explained away."

Here we see a good illustration of Holmes's methodical working practice. Refusing to theorize ahead of facts, he formulates a logical theory that might explain one of the few facts he has—the metallic clang, which could have been caused by the bar holding the shutters slamming down. Beyond that, he does not try to guess what the gypsies might or might not have done. Holmes's gradual progress towards the truth by trial and error adds to the suspense and heightens the reader's interest.

We talked about how this method is used by all of us everyday to figure things out, how it applies to their grid puzzles, etc.

Did "gipsies" have anything to do with this crime?  We talked more about Red Herrings in class after they properly identified this as such utilizing their chart, above....

We began talking about two other logical fallacies last week: Appeal to the People and Slippery Slope. I asked them to look for one example of AtP in television or print advertising during the week and bring info on that to class. I also asked them to be on the lookout for the Slippery Slope fallacy in conversations they have with parents or others and share examples of those when found.  I actually got some very good examples and a great slippery slope commercial that I had forgotten about! 

We talked a great deal about the elements of this story as they were all intrigued by the possibility of trap doors in the room, etc.  We talked about the fictitious snake created by Doyle for the story, and compared that to Father Brown's fictitious capers detailed in "The Blue Cross" when he was scaring Flambeau with his knowledge of dastardly deeds....  We also discussed the old adage that snakes "drink milk" and how that would have been widely recognized at the time this story was originally published....

We talked so much, in fact, about the story and the examples of fallacies that they found during the week that we really ran out of time to play Clue, which I had promised them.  I did set it up and ran through two rounds so that they could see how it's done.  I am going to try to allow them to play it on their own next week.

Clue(My version is much, much older than this, LOL!)

For next week, I backed up on the grid puzzles to a set of simpler ones that they should be able to work out for themselves. I asked again that parents try to allow them to do these on their own.  Of course, if they become frustrated, offering a clue to get them over the hump is acceptable - I'd just like them to work the puzzles on their own as much as possible because it is only in doing this that they will get the knack of it. It's not so important that they come to class with perfectly done puzzles. It's more important that they're getting the practice of reasoning through how to get to the answers.... We can work through the puzzles in class to get the answers if they have any problems with them.

I also gave them four more simple numbers board puzzles; I showed them how to do those in class last week and sent some home with them then, too.  These utilize hundreds boards and a set of narrowing clues to figure out a mystery number.

I asked them to read the second Father Brown story for next week: "The Strange Feet," originally entitled "The Queer Feet." ( As words go in and out of fashion, you will sometimes find antiquated words used in titles changed in newer editions of books or stories, etc.)
I didn't see any vocabulary in this story that I found overly challenging, but asked that if they did to  please note it for me.
I told them that there's a type of logical fallacy on display throughout this story that is related to "appeal to the people" and it is also used heavily in advertising today. I clued them in that they might find it in many upscale magazines or the sales catalogs of expensive brands of clothing, such as J. Crewe, etc.  I told them that we will talk about it a little next week and asked them to see if they can guess what it might be called.... (Appeal to Snobbery, or Snob Appeal)
I told them that we are also going to talk about another related fallacy called "bandwagon," and asked them to look that word up to see what it means and to think about how these two fallacies might be related to "appeal to the people."
I asked them to think about whether they expected to see Father Brown catch the thief just a little over halfway through the story, and if they expected to see an old acquaintance of his in this story, so soon after the last one (Flambeau just went to jail at the end of the last story).  I reminded them to read the footnotes at the end of the story because they will provide some enlightenment for them on various items of interest.

Finally, I reminded them that there are examples of logical fallacies all around us in life.  They don't have to own a television to see commercials.  Commercials are in newspapers, magazines, on billboards, on signage for stores, etc.  Logical fallacies can regularly be found in conversations, as well.  In class, we talked about the story of Chicken Little and how slippery slopes can grow out of gossip, rumor and other exaggerated conversations....  I asked them to keep looking for the four fallacies we've talked about thus far and we'll add a couple more to the mix next week....

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