As we wrap up Unit 1, Clemente juniors in law classes are practicing their argumentative and evaluative skills as they each play a role in a class mock trial. Using real crimes, real courtroom roles, and real argumentative strategies, students will put characters from a fictional story, adapted from the Arabian Nights, on trial.
Students in the class will play the part of either a defense attorney, a prosecuting attorney, or a member of the jury. In preparation for the case, students will examine both the story and a list of different crimes, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.
The prosecuting attorneys in the class will decide which character should be charged, what crimes they should be charged with, and what the strongest pieces of evidence are. The defense attorneys will work on creating inferences from the text and generating counterarguments. The jury members will evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by the lawyers, examine the facts of the case, and ultimately make a decision about whether or not the defendant is guilty.
Throughout the mock trial, Clemente students will be practicing skills from both the Common Core State Standards and the International Baccalaureate (IB) standards. These standards help prepare students for success after high-school by helping them learn skills like gathering evidence from text, creating arguments and counterarguments, communicating information both verbally and in writing, and evaluating and reflecting on their own work.
In addition, before the final mock trial presentation kicks off next week, students will have a chance to practice other important life skills; presenting their arguments and providing feedback to one another. To guide the peer-review, students will use the rubric they will ultimately be graded on during the mock trial to help their fellow classmates improve. Students will also watch and critique examples of mock trials so they have both examples and nonexamples to draw from.
IB students’ experiences participating in the mock trial will help them understand how a courtroom works so they will have the tools they need to analyze complex court cases involving both constitutional and criminal law later in the year.