Overview: This mock trial bundle has graphic organizers designed to help middle school classes transition from written arguments to verbal interactive debating. Specifically, I use this to support imagining an “other” when designing an argument rather than writing in a vacuum as is often required of students in standard essays. Students are engaged in the simultaneous collaborative yet competitive nature of the activities, and this excitement translates to more sound reasoning and an increased understanding of claims, evidence, reasoning, and counterarguments for future argumentative writing.
Included in this bundle:
Opening Statement Graphic Organizer (2 pages): This outlines the purpose of the opening statement as a style of introduction as well as gives students boxes with guiding questions to break down the case into its essential parts. All students can and should complete this organizer as a formative assessment.
Questioning Graphic Organizer (2 pages): This outlines the purpose of questioning witnesses in the trial, offers students sentence stems from Costa’s Levels of Questioning, and gives boxes for students to record question and anticipate answers for one witness. All students can and should complete this organizer as a formative assessment.
Closing Statement Graphic Organizer (2 pages): Like the Opening Statement Graphic Organizer, this outlines the purpose of the closing statement and gives students boxes with guiding questions to summarize the case. It also asks students to revise as the case is presented to reflect what is said rather than only what was anticipated. All students can and should complete this organizer as a formative assessment.
Mock Trial Roles (2 pages): This outlines the different presentation parts of the actual trial. Depending on the size of your class, you may choose to only have certain kids present parts of the trial, or you may want to add students to the different roles to involve everyone. I usually create teams for each role so that everyone may get involved at some degree. (Typically, I have students who are strong extemporaneous speakers take roles involving questioning, and I let other students do the opening statement and other roles that do not require thinking on one’s feet.)
Mock Trial Procedures (3 pages): This gives you and the class a general outline of rules and order for conducting your own trial. This can be modified to fit the needs of your classroom.
Mock Trial Participant Reflection (1 page): This is for students who view the trial to analyze the arguments and draw a conclusion. (I do this activity with two classes, so one class is the jury for one group and the other class is the jury for the other group.)
Mock Trial Jury Reflection (1 page): This is for students who participate in the trial to think back on their role and how they contributed to the group.
Links for easy access to FREE New Jersey State Bar Association trials (UPDATED): https://njsbf.org/school-based-programs/mock-trial/law-adventure-competition-for-grades-7-and-8/
NOTE: I do not own the actual trials. The website listed above has all of the trials for free in their Law Adventures program under the Educators tab. This product includes graphic organizers that can be used as a scaffold for those trials or for original cases students create. I would suggest browsing their website before purchasing this bundle to make sure the cases are at an appropriate level for your students.
NOTE: This will probably require modeling for your students but because of copyright issues as well as all classes being at different levels, I have not included any examples of filled out graphic organizers with this bundle. If you have any questions about using the graphic organizers, please feel free to ask though!