Lesson Plan

Will the Defendant Please Rise!

Mock Trial: Have students put a character on trial.
Cathie G.
Classroom teacher
Dorseyville Middle School
Pittsburgh, PA
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My Grades 6
My Subjects English Language Arts
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • To increase leadership skills such as active listening, speaking, writing, reading, and analyzing.
  • To increase comprehension of the historical, ethical and philosophical basis of our judicial system. 
  • To demystify the operation of law, court procedures and the legal system. 
  • To build bridges of natural cooperation, respect and support between the community (teachers, students, parents and schools) and the legal profession.
  • To offer a positive experience with the legal system
English Language Arts
forming arguments
reading comprehension
text analysis
using supporting evidence
writing clearly
Social Studies
civic engagement
social justice
cultural understanding
Grades 6 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Entry Event

Google Drive
Free, Paid
Free, Paid

Upon completion or near the close of a novel determine a character to be put on trial.  

EX:Is Dr. Jekyll responsible for the crimes of Edward Hyde?

EX: The State Vs. Ponyboy Curtis

Use the following link filled in with correct novel and demographics and information to surprise students with a mock trial experience.  I  emailed the document and let them read that they would be going to the city courthouse to conduct the trial.

For homework students should complete the link for a formative / preassessment through the Learning Management System Schoology 

What do you know about the court system?

How does a trial work?


Student Instructions

Please check your email about the next assignment and complete the formative assessment.

2 Workflow for Blended Learning.

Explain to students that majority of the class time will designated work time on trial preparation (writing & speaking).    In and (mostly) out of class will be designated for students to understand how the court and legal systems work. Using the results from the formative assessment students will be given specific tasks to complete a work flow.  The work flow consists of BrainPOP movies:

BrainPOP > Social Studies > US Government and Law

>Brown VS. B.O.E.

>Miranda Rights

> Debate

> Court System

> Trials

> Supreme Court

After watching the movies and submitting quiz scores students will need to complete a game through GameUp or tackle a Primary Source on the BrainPOP Activity Page.

Game UP Games include

>Do I Have A Right

>Court Quest

>Supreme Decision

>Argument Wars

In class you will need to go over the trial roles and obligations for each role. Using a Google Form will help organize the designated parts for the trial

Student Instructions

Complete work flow activities for homework by designated date.  You may also work on these activities in class if you have 'down time' during trial preparation. 

For homework please complete the Trial Roles Choices Google Form.

3 Trial Prep Writing and Speaking Practice

Google Drive
Free, Paid

After reviewing the formative document and Goggle Form and depending on class size and character amount you will need to group students.

I suggest:

4 Prosecution Team

3 Defense Team

1 Judge

1 Bailiff

Witnesses  (all characters in the book)

Defense Template

Prosecution Template

Witness Template

Affidavit Template

Judge & Bailiff Template

Distribute the above templates via shared link to the proper teams or student. Students should work in class on their work by dividing tasks needed for each group.   I would also consider taking away certain Work Flow sections for attorneys.

General Rules:

All witnesses must create and have an affidavit.  I make principals notarize all affidavits.

Defense and Prosecution must have opening and closing remarks.  

All witness questions must be made from the information provided in the affidavit.

The judge  & bailiff ( students) are in charge of flow , oath, and all aspects of facilitating the trial.  

I bring a jury of students that have not read the book to listen to the case.


Student Instructions

After you receive your role for the trial  use the Google Document Template to create the proper requirements for this project.  Remember to File> Make A Copy> Rename>Share.

You must continue to work on your Workflow of Movies, Games, and Primary Sources.

4 Field Trip & Reflection

Activity: Other — Field Trip

Contact your local courthouse and ask if you can use a courtroom for your trial.  Allow students to have an authentic experience. 

Upon completion have students submit all work through Schoology.

Student Instructions

Mock Trial at the courthouse.

Submit all work through Schoology.