Learn About Civics Or Law With A Mock Classroom Trial
What's an easy way to make something boring and dry (like the law) fun and exciting? Bring it to life with a mock trial in your classroom! Teaching your students about civics or law doesn't have to be a snooze-fest. With a mock trial, you can engage your students in active learning, where they're the ones doing the talking (and thinking).
Plus, you'll be teaching them some valuable life skills. They'll learn how to research and present an argument, think on their feet, and be respectful of others' opinions - even if they don't agree with them. With that being said, let's dive into how to put on a mock trial in your classroom.
How To Conduct A Mock Trial In Your Classroom
Choose a case - it can be something in the news or a made-up scenario
To get things started, you'll need to choose a case. Keep in mind it should be interesting enough to capture your students' attention, but not be too complicated.
You can use an actual legal case or make up your own scenario. If you're using a made-up scenario, consider something that would be relatable to your students.
For example, you could use the case of a student who doesn't clean up their supplies after art class. And another student trips over them.
Or you could have a made-up scenario where two students are arguing over who gets to use the swings at recess.
Both scenarios are relatable so your students will still be engaged. But they won't feel too out of their element.
Divide students into teams and roles
Once you have your case, it's time to divide your students into teams. You'll want one team to be the prosecution. And the other team will be the defense. If you have a large class, you can divide students into smaller groups within each team.
Next, assign roles to each student. The prosecution and defense will each need a lawyer, witnesses, and a defendant or plaintiff. You'll also need a judge and bailiff as well. Finally, you'll also need students to play the part of the jury.
Make sure to explain the duties of each role as simply as possible. For example, the lawyers will need to "defend" or "prove" their case to the jury. The witnesses will need to answer questions asked by lawyers. And the jury will need to listen to both sides and decide who they think is telling the truth.
It's important you emphasize the need to think critically and be respectful to those with different opinions. If they can leave the mock trial having practiced those two things, you'll have done your job!
Come up with a set of rules for the trial
Now that everyone knows their roles, it's time to set ground rules for the trial. This will help keep things organized and running smoothly.
Some rules you may want to consider are:
- No interrupting other people's speeches
- No talking out of turn
- No personal attacks
You can also set a time limit for each person's speeches. This will help keep things moving along and prevent anyone from hogging the spotlight.
Along the way, you should make sure you provide guidance to keep things on track. For example, if a student interrupts another person's speech, you can gently remind them of the rule against interrupting.
Additionally, if your students seem to be at a loss, you can provide prompts or questions to get them going again. Ensure you provide minimal assistance so they can do most of the work themselves.
Have a trial!
Once everyone is prepared, it's time for the trial. Sit back and watch as your students put on a mock trial. This is where all your hard work comes together.
The trial will likely be chaotic. But that's okay! It's all part of the learning process. As long as the students are engaging with the material and having fun, that's what matters.
Some things to keep an eye for:
- How well the students follow the rules
- How they argue their case
- If they are able to think critically and see both sides of the issue
As long as the students are engaged and practicing critical thinking, they are sure to benefit from the experience.
And that's it! You've now successfully completed a mock trial in your classroom. And can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you've helped your students learn about the law in a fun and interactive way. Bravo!
Mock trials are a great way to teach your students about civics and law. Not only are they fun and engaging, but they also provide an opportunity for critical thinking and respect for different opinions. So they’re definitely worth giving a try.
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