The Rendell Center Literature-Based Mock Trials framework is easy to follow. The downloadable Handbook guides educators step-by-step on how to develop literature-based mock trials with their students from grades K through 8.
The literature-based mock trial is designed to focus on the literature that the students are reading in the classroom. The goal is to enrich the students’ learning experience with the literature while teaching them about the American government and its judicial system.
This activity not only builds knowledge and understanding of our judicial system, but also provides practice in democratic deliberation while strengthening students’ literacy skills. The framework is one that marries literacy and civic literacy in an ongoing effort to provide students with the knowledge and disposition of engaged citizens. These are skills they will carry throughout their lives.
Through participation in literature-based mock trials, students:
- Gain an understanding of courtroom procedures and our legal system (roles of judges,
lawyers and juries), thereby providing exposure to a wide variety of law-relate careers.
- Gain an understanding of the Constitutional principles of Rule of Law, Presumption of
Innocence, Burden of Proof, Due Process, Rights and Responsibilities and the concepts of
justice and authority.
- Develop higher level thinking skills (i.e. critical analysis of problems, strategic thinking,
- Develop confidence, teamwork and communication skills.
- Increase proficiency in basic skills such as reading, writing, speaking, analyzing, listening
and reasoning—all in an interactive and engaging environment.
- Develop skills in preparing, organizing, and presenting material.
Download any of the following master handouts below to copy and share with your class. These are the same handouts found in our handbook.
- Creating a Common Language Activity Sheet
- Direct Examination Questions Activity Sheet
- Leading Questions Activity Sheet
- Practicing Questioning Techniques Activity Sheet
- Thinking About Rules and Laws
- Verdict Sheet
- What We Know About a Trial
- Witness Statements Activity Sheet
- Writing a Closing Statement Activity Sheet
- Writing a Rule – No Animals in the Library
- Writing a Rule – No Food in the Classroom
- Writing a Rule – No Hats in the Classroom
- Writing an Opening Statement Activity Sheet
If you need any assistance with implementing your own literature-based mock trials, we are here to help you. Email us at email@example.com.
The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement is proud to partner with the Pennsylvania Bar Association on this project. The Pennsylvania Bar Association has lawyers and judges who will come into your classroom and assist with the Literature- Based Mock Trial. Have your students learn about cross-examination from a defense attorney or watch your students argue their cases in front of an experienced judge.