Perry Meridian Middle School
You Be The Judge
Teenagers love to argue. You Be The Judge is a cross-curricular project to tap into interests of middle school students while providing learning opportunities to hone those argument skills into quality life stills. Eighth grade social studies and language arts students will work collectively with their teachers to improve their ability to argue orally and in writing for both academic and real-world settings.
This project is a mock trial, an interactive, role-playing activity where students learn the elements of creating arguments and applying those skills to a mock courtroom. Students will play the roles of judges, lawyers, and jurors where the primary, real-world tasks are to build and analyze arguments. A secondary learning goal in this mock trial role-play will be for students to immerse themselves in and evaluate the U.S. justice system.
Students will build and argue cases in a civil trial, criminal trial, and Supreme Court hearing. They will determine the evidence they need to present, witnesses they need to question, and laws they need to use to measure their arguments.
It is not enough to teach argument essay writing to prepare for standardized tests. It is not enough for the teacher to lecture and explain how the courtroom works. It is not enough for students to watch “Law and Order” on TV to understand the U.S. justice system. Students need to experience the real-world application of academic skills applied to other content areas and real-life situations. This project addresses the goal to provide real-life experiential learning while gaining academic skill in order to be successful. Funding this project allows each student to dress the part, think like a professional, and behave in a role. No other learning experience regarding arguments and the U.S. justice system could be more powerful.