Ep 158: Using Mock Trials to Help Your Students Master the Standards and Have Fun - EB Academics

Ep 158: Using Mock Trials to Help Your Students Master the Standards and Have Fun

You know when an activity or discussion is getting stale. Wait time for responses drags on as the same few students keep raising their hands and the rest sit back, completely unengaged. Fortunately, there is a great way to get every student invested in asking questions, taking positions, finding evidence, and justifying their thinking: Mock trials!

Listen as Caitlin and Jessica walk you through the basics of creating a classroom mock trial, so you can orchestrate one (or more!) in your own classroom. Jessica will share 4 lessons to help you create this authentic learning experience, which you can rinse and repeat over and over with different texts.

From planning, to scaffolding, to elevating expectations, Jessica will guide you through the whole mock-trial creation process. And of course, you’ll want to top off the activity with a few easy but transformative ideas to make the courtroom experience feel more real for students. It’s all in this episode, so take a listen! 

Tune in now to hear:

  • [02:00] Caitlin and Jessica talk about positive experiences using mock trials
  • [04:00] Jessica shares how she got started with mock trials, using The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • [06:40] Jessica will walk you through how to create a mock trial, but this Mock Trial Template for Any Text resource can take some of the work off your plate. Members of the EB Teachers’ Club can use one of their monthly coupon codes in the EB Teachers’ Shop, and others can find it here. This is a great “rinse and repeat” activity that you can use time and again!
  • [07:40] Jessica shares Lesson #1: Plan ahead. Choose your text carefully and pick your defendant. Select an essential question for students to consider.
  • [09:30] Caitlin shares examples with The Outsiders and “The Landlady.”
  • [10:20] Lesson #2: Scaffold student learning. Outline for students what a mock trial looks like, by breaking down the roles in a trial: prosecution, defense, jury, etc.Teach any terms that will be important in the trial, and separate students into three teams: prosecution, defense, and jury. 
  • [11:40] Show students how the learning from their writing lessons (claims, evidence, etc.) relates to a trial.
  • [12:10] Continue the scaffolding with graphic organizers. Use an Evidence Tracker (create one or modify this one) to help students collect evidence for both the defense and prosecution (ALL students should do this, even the jury).
  • [13:40] Use a graphic organizer to help each team write out their statements. (Visit our Youtube episode to see a visual of this, if you don’t have the Mock Trial Template for Any Text Resource and want to create your own!!) Jessica explains each part of the organizer.
  • [16:20] Separate students into roles on their teams, and use graphic organizers to support them in their roles.
  • [17:50] What does the jury do while the prosecution and defense write their opening/closing statements and arguments? Jessica shares a great idea for a web search that jury members can do in order to learn more about trials. Additionally, jury members can create their own oath to sign!
  • [19:40] Lesson #3: Elevate a mock trial for older or advanced students with a lesson on persuasion (ethos, pathos, logos, and emotionally charged words).
  • [22:00] Lesson #4: Bring magic to the lesson! Some simple, fun ideas to bring the lesson over the top.
  • [24:00] Don’t forget to invite your admin to the trial, to show off your amazing students and their learning!
  • [26:00] Our EB teachers LOVE mock trials! Caitlin shares some teachers’ experiences.
  • [28:00] Join us next week to learn the two game-changing sentences that will improve your students’ essays. 

Click here to listen now!

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Then, pick the date you’re going to teach it in your classroom, and sit back while you watch as your students show up to your classroom pumped about what the day holds…and gush about your class to their parents on the car ride home!

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