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Last year, for the first time, I had my students conduct mock trials as part of our Outsiders/Juvenile Justice Unit.  It was a huge success, so I definitely wanted to do it again.  However, I did learn a lot from last year's experience, so I tweaked a few things this year.  First of all, I gave each group a different case.  Last year I only had two different cases split among four groups.  I felt that would be more entertaining for the jury (class) to watch.  I also found an awesome script/template for conducting a mock trial and shared this with students.  This seems to be helping them with courtroom vocabulary and procedures.  Next year, I am going to make my OWN!  One thing at a time though!

I love many things about this assignment.  First, it forces students to collaborate and communicate.  Next, It requires students to synthesize information from a variety of articles that we read in class.  They are required to use this information as part of their defense.  For example, one of our Article of the Week articles was  "Teenagers, Friends, and Bad Decisions."  All of the cases that I assigned involve juveniles who were with their friends when they committed the crime. The defense may choose to call an expert witness (psychologist, scientist) who will cite information from this article as part of the defense.

Students put a lot of work into this project, but I feel it's a wise use of time.  Students are required to read, write, speak, listen, use technology, and use both creativity and critical thinking skills!

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