Website review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015

Street Law

Excellent info, activities get kids engaged in SCOTUS's work, impact

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Grades
5–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Social Studies, Creativity, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Detailed reference info and up-to-the-minute SCOTUS updates make this an active, engaging classroom companion.

Cons: There's a lot of text here, and the resource library can be tough to navigate effectively.

Bottom Line: An exceptional resource for learning about the law and justice system in the United States.

If you'd like to set up your own moot court, you're in luck: The site includes detailed instructions about how to engineer the activity in your classroom. It's probably best suited to high school students, but you could easily adapt it for middle schoolers, too. Use the SCOTUS in the Classroom resources as a current events activity, getting your students excited and engaged about the release of the latest SCOTUS ruling. There's a great yearlong lesson plan to be had here. Consider ways that you could integrate the Supreme Court's term. Use the SCOTUS in Classroom resources as a nice bookend to SCOTUSBlog's resources. Learn about a case for a few months, then follow the reading of decisions in real time via SCOTUSBlog. U.S. History teachers could use the Landmark Cases site as a way to help students drill and solidify their understanding of notable cases and their important precedents.

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Street Law is a nonprofit founded in 1972 to "teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide." Its website features lots of info about its in-person programs for professionals, educational outreach events for schools, and professional development programs for teachers. There are also links to purchase the organization's textbook and other publications.

The best resources for teachers are all linked at the bottom right of the site's homepage: the Resource Library (a database of the organization's materials, including lesson plans and handouts), a link to LandmarkCases.org (the site's standalone guide to landmark Supreme Court cases), a link to buy the Street Law textbook, and Supreme Court Case Materials (a compendium of materials related to current and past Supreme Court cases). Within Supreme Court Case Materials, teachers and students can link to a frequently updated resource called SCOTUS in the Classroom, which includes info about current cases before the Supreme Court.

If you're looking for a site to help your class follow the latest Supreme Court term, look no further. This is your go-to resource for diving deep into SCOTUS's history, impact, and current work. Street Law picks three cases a year to showcase, and they time their updates with the court's term. They supply a treasure trove of links to related resources to help students and teachers appreciate the content and context of the Court's latest work. Teachers are encouraged to host moot courts during the same week that SCOTUS hears oral arguments, so students will be especially primed to follow stories in the news surrounding SCOTUS's session. This is an excellent way to get students engaged in taking on the arguments at hand in the Supreme Court as they happen, helping kids get an engaging, up-close look at how the court works and what its decisions mean.

Meanwhile, the Landmark Cases site is an excellent standalone resource for learning about key Supreme Court decisions in detail, from their actual language (linked in full here) plus articles that offer both simple and detailed insights on the decisions' impact and subsequent interpretation. The Resource Library is full of good things, but they can be tougher to sort through and their plug-and-play utility varies widely. It's definitely worth a look to sort through these materials, but the other two sections might be your best bet for accessing instantly usable, high-impact tools for your classroom.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

The text-heavy site isn't visually appealing, but the available info and activities offer great opportunities for kids to get engaged in understanding the law.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

There are some excellent lesson plans and terrific resources here, particularly in the site's SCOTUS in the Classroom section. The Landmark Cases site offers a detailed guide to important cases that foregrounds their real-life impact.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Excellent teacher guides and great links to other sites and their resources makes this a go-to resource for teachers and students studying Supreme Court cases.


Common Sense reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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