The literature-based, mock trial resources provide everything you need to not only explain but also see your students experience the United States judicial system. Use any novel with a controversial conflict as a vehicle to engage in the judicial process! It supplies foundational knowledge about the judicial system’s central principles. Then, the resources provide a structure to guide students through the application of those principles. In doing so, students are asked to take on different roles, which will allow them to experience and internalize how our justice system works. The resources include:
Vocabulary: The vocabulary of the courtroom provides essential knowledge about common terms invoked in judicial proceedings. It also establishes a common language in the classroom when engaging in a mock trial.
Nonfiction Articles: The close reading lessons develop students’ background knowledge about the Constitutional Amendments that underpin our judicial system and other, relevant common law principles. Using these informational texts, students will learn about the law in order to fully understand the principles that will guide their work in the mock trial. Each close reading includes questions that will develop essential skills aligned to the reading of informational texts under the Common Core State Standards.
Activities: The mock trial activities will see students apply their understanding of the judicial system. The activities will develop their ability to think from multiple perspectives and experience what it means to take a case through court. Students will learn how to ask questions, choose witnesses, and consider opposing viewpoints. They will apply these skills as they participate in developing the class’ mock trial.
Mock Trial Project: The mock trial project makes students an active participant in the judicial process. This project can be used for any novel! They will take on multiple roles in the system as they identify, develop, and argue their chosen case. Students will choose the conflict, charges, witnesses, questions and answers, and opening and closing statements. By creating a trial script to perform, students will demonstrate their knowledge of the judicial system and their skills using evidence and logic as a writer and critical thinker.
Answer Key: The key provides potential answers for every question asked in every assignment if applicable. Of course, not all analytic questions have just one answer! Part of the strength of the analysis questions is the room they leave for students to demonstrate their unique thinking and use textual evidence to support their stance. Therefore, use the answers at your discretion but know they provide a solid foundation for the type of performance that makes for quality work.
If you’re teaching novels such as Wolf Hollow, Of Mice and Men, The Outsiders, The Giver, Monster, Tuck Everlasting, Romeo and Juliet, Hoot, and many more, use mock trial as way to connect with literature with Civics and make meaningful life connections for students!