Lesson Plans - Law


The Case of:    "What to Teach"


Lesson Plan:


Encouraging indpendent thinking - A Simplified Mock Trial image credit - lighthousewws5.com

GRADE(S): 6 - 12 (or older grades inexperienced with mock trials)

DESCRIPTION: conducting a Simplified Mock Trial in a classroom, based on an imaginary Thai life experience. Teachers can adapt this lesson plan by using a real experience.

DURATION: 1 class period

LANGUAGE: English (can easily be adapted to the language of the classroom)

AUTHOR: Keerock Rook, The Learning Foundation

LEARNING OBJECTIVE(S):
At the end of this lesson, students should be able to...
• identify the process for settling a legal dispute (how are the facts of the case presented; how is the dispute resolved)
• identify key players in a legal dispute (who presents the facts; who makes the final decision)
• determine what makes a decision fair.
FORMAT:
Small group deliberation in simplified mock-trial format; class is divided into three groups for mock trial; groups of three, one each acting as judge, accused and accuser, for review discussion.
BACKGROUND:
A full-scale mock trial can be an intimidating prospect for an elementary classroom-both for teacher and students. This lesson plan for a simplified mock-trial provides an opportunity to experience the fundamentals of a trial.
Beginning with a cast of three characters, students will develop skills that will lead them safely into more complicated cases. The basic tenets of the lesson include those items covered in the learning objectives. Understanding that the purpose of a trial is to settle a dispute between two people, the two parties are given an opportunity to present their side of the story to a judge. With the final authority resting with him/her, the judge takes some time to clarify issues with each party and then makes a decision that is seen to be fair to each party.
Without distinguishing between civil and criminal issues, this lesson illustrates the essentials of our adversary system: that each party is allowed to tell his/her side of the story, that the judge is the person with the authority to settle the dispute, that a fair decision is presented with reasons supporting that decision.
RECOMMENDED STUDENT MATERIALS: Copies of facts for accused and accuser; copies of Steps in the Trial for the judges.

RECOMMENDED TEACHER PREPARATION:
Prepare fact sheets for the accused and accuser groups to read before beginning their trial. Make copies of the
Steps in the Trial for distribution to the judges group.
CLASSROOM STRATEGIES:
• Divide the class into three groups; each group represents the judge, the accuser, or the accused.
• Give fact sheets to the accused and the accuser groups, but not to the judge group. Give a copy of the Steps in the Trial to the judge group.
• Allow time for the groups to discuss their strategy: who will present their case, and how they will present their side of the story. Each group should choose a spokesperson to represent them in the trial.
• Follow the Steps in the Trial described below.
• Time permitting, repeat the trial with a different set of students representing each side of the story and the judge.
• Talk as a class about the trial(s) and the results. Ask for reactions to each role: how did it feel to be the judge, the accused, the accuser?
• Review the objectives for other teaching points.
Fact Situation:

Kit wanted his students to ask questions and challange what they heard and said, even what he said.

Students were active and talkative in his classes, and often talked about them at home.

A number of parents complained that their children questioned what they told them instead of showing them respect.

They said the teacher should be teaching the same answers they taught their kids and follow Thai custom.
The parents filed a complaint with the head of the school and the village to replace Kit.

They said: "What our kids need is answers to pass the national entrance exams so they can go to university and get a good job, not a lot of questions."

Kit answered that the world is changing and kids need to find out for themselves what these changes mean, so they can adapt.

The parents said it was foreigners causing the changes and they didn't need to follow them.

Steps in the Trial:
1. Let The Parents (the accuser) tell her/his/their side of the story.
2. Let Kit (the accused) tell her/his side of the story.
3. Let the judge ask The Parents and Kit questions.
4. Give the judge a few minutes to think.
5. Let the judge make a decision that is fair.
6. Let the judge explain his or her reasons.
ASSESSMENT:
Lead whole-class summation discussion based on the objectives stated earlier. Older students might be given a written assignment. In groups of three, one representing each role, prepare a one page summary of the trial, that presents each side of the story and the judge's decision, with reasons.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE:
Try another of the mock-trial lesson plans, or develop your own based on a situation from current events in the community or the classroom. Write your own fact situation and adapt the Steps in the Trial accordingly. Some other lessons continue with three roles in each trial; some more complicated situations, for trials of six characters, add clerk and two lawyers. Refer to the Canada School Net Bibliography on Mock Trial Materials for reference or LFS Law and Society Lessons.

The Case of: "What to Teach" - A Simplified Mock Trial based on the Canada School Net Simplified Mock Trial Design.


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