Lesson Plans - Law

The Case of  "I can Say What I Want!"

Lesson Plan:

GRADE(S): 9 - 12 (or older grades inexperienced with mock trials)

Use and abuse of chat rooms Image source Florida online reading This is a four part Simplified Mock Trial based on a classroom incident:
"I can say what I want!"
"I was just protecting my kid!"
  News vs Gossip
"I Want My Money back"
DURATION: 2 class periods (45 minutes each)

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

AUTHOR: Keerock Rook, The Learning Foundation

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.
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.
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.

The fact situation given here is based on an imaginary classroom incident. There may have been a real incident in your classroom that would be a good substitute. Develop roles that are gender-free and easily used by males or females.
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.
• 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:

Lek, was talking to her friend on her hand phone in Ms. Lawson’s class.
Ms Lawson told her to stop talking on the phone in her class.
Lek ended the call, but a few minutes later her phone rang again and she answered it.
Ms Lawson went to Lek’s desk and asked Lek to give her the phone.
Lek said: “I have a right to have my hand phone.”
Ms Lawson insisted that she give her the phone and that she would return it to her after class. Lek gave her the phone.
Ms Lawson returned Lek’s hand phone after class and told her not to use her hand phone again in class or it would be taken from her and returned after the class.
Later that day Lek wrote about what happened in her Chatroom on the Internet but wrote that Ms Lawson had stolen her hand phone.
Her Chatroom friends sent the story to other friends and the story spread and grew until it included angry claims that Ms lawson was a bad teacher who didn't care about her students and and should be fired from her job.
Ms Lawson claimed what Lek had written on the Internet was false and had caused people to look down on her and even threatened her job.
Steps in the Trial
1. Let Ms Lawson (the accuser) tell her/his side of the story.
2. Let Lek (the accused) tell her/his side of the story.
3. Let the judge ask Ms Lawson and Lek 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.

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 Lesson Plans

"I Can Say What I Want!" Lesson Plan - A Simplified Mock Trial based on the Canada School Net Simplified Mock Trial Design.

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