South Orangetown Central School District

Writers in Kristen Duroy’s English class at South Orangetown Middle School are penning their own endings to Roald Dahl’s short story “Lamb to the Slaughter.”

The assignment is a component of an eighth-grade mystery unit which kicked off with students solving mini-mysteries and investigating a classroom crime scene. Hands-on sleuthing helped to shape students’ thinking about their own writing in terms of how to ask good questions and how to plant clues and evidence for their readers.

“Most students are exposed to mystery writing as elementary students and they know Roald Dahl from the children’s books he’s written. But ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ is not a children’s book and it’s exciting to re-introduce students to this genre,” said Duroy.

Elizabeth B. took a brief pause from drafting her ending to express a new interest in mysteries. “They’re more suspenseful,” she noted.

“This project is really fun and engaging. I’m making it so that Mary (the protagonist) goes on a rampage,” confided Deven D. “The most challenging part is keeping the same style as the rest of the story.”

Originally published in 1953, “Lamb to the Slaughter” was adapted for an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” which students will view once the author’s ending has been revealed.

Kristen Duroy teaches a mystery unit