Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014

We The Jury

Evaluate evidence, build consensus in jury deliberation sim

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
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Pros: The variation in laws and scenarios pushes students to think critically before they vote.

Cons: Only scratches the surface of each law.

Bottom Line: This distills down the jury process to its essential -- and most interesting -- elements showing students the critical and difficult responsibilities of jurors and how the deliberation process ties to argumentation, persuasion, and civics.

ELA teachers can use We The Jury to give students practice in evaluating primary sources, analyzing evidence, and persuading others of their positions. It would pair well with a persuasive writing exercise focused on a contentious issue currently being debated within State Supreme Courts or the US Supreme Court. Students could also play Supreme Decision and Argument Wars from the iCivics curriculum to get some extra perspectives and skills.

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We The Jury is a civics game designed to introduce students to the basic responsibilities and work of a juror. Having lost their notes, students must rely on evidence presented (somewhat) impartially by the other jurors over a period of five in-game days. Students must weigh evidence against standing laws, and must talk with all of the jurors to glean a complete picture of the case. Throughout, students attempt to convince the rest of the jury to join their position, with the consequence of failure being a hung jury. There is a relatively steep learning curve, but once students get oriented, it's pretty straightforward.

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By talking with other jurors, students unlock evidence that exposes them to relevant laws and forms of evidence. This ultimately helps them understand a few important things: (1) the jury deliberation process; (2) the structure of arguments; (3) the ethics of our justice system. To evaluate evidence and perspectives, students use critical thinking skills so they make the right judgment about the case. They're also given practice being fair and flexible, since the unlocked evidence  should -- if they're being attentive and just -- force them to re-evaluate their positions on the matter. To keep things interesting, and to drive these lessons home, none of the cases are open/shut. Each of the scenarios requires evaluation and diligence before votes are finalized.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Rather than sitting through boring testimony, students analyze evidence that other jurors bring to deliberation. Convincing the other jurors to vote unanimously is an interesting intellectual challenge.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students get exposed to a variety of actual laws as they help determine the outcome of each case.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Helpful tutorials ease students in. Students can also see how the other jurors may vote, how long they have to convince the other jurors, and evidence each juror has brought to the table.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jenny Bristol Homeschooling parent

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