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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Teaching Guidelines From US Courts On Social Media


Resource Go-Kit

Scripted Trial with Jury
This highly interactive program combines the vampire craze and social media to give high school students the opportunity to wrestle with a current issue by participating in a trial and jury deliberations.
The topic is The First Amendment and Social Media: Student Rights, Wrongs, and Responsibilities. The strength of the program is that it has something for every student's abilities and aptitudes. Everyone has the opportunity to participate fully.

One Scenario – Two Format Options

The same scenario is used for the two formats offered – an Oxford style debate, and a scripted witness stand exchange. Both formats can be used in a classroom or a courtroom. If the event is staged in a courtroom, a federal judge presides and two attorneys serve as coaches. If the program is presented in a classroom, the teacher facilitates and students play all of the parts.
Students in the courtroomOption 1: An Oxford style debate involves two teams of four student lawyers on each side of an issue. They use prepared talking points as the basis of their arguments. This approach stimulates critical thinking and higher-level analysis and communication. All other students serve as active jurors. They have opportunities for small group and large group discussion. The winning team is decided by a simple majority of jurors’ votes.
Option 2: A scripted witness stand simulation involves 15 speaking parts. A federal judge and two student judges preside two adult attorneys make the unscripted opening statements. Student lawyers and witnesses do a scripted witness stand exchange. Two student lawyers present the unscripted closing arguments based on notes they take during the testimony. All other students are active jurors who deliberate in small groups. Each jury must reach a unanimous verdict. The winning team is determined by the majority of jury verdicts in its favor.

Teaching Precedent and Fulfilling National Social Studies Standards

The program applies the precedent set in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, the school newspaper censorship case, to a fictional scenario. Teaching and applying this landmark Supreme Court case supports the national social studies standards.

Fictional Scenario in Brief

Students in the courtroomStudents forming a vampire club called The Fangtastics at school post vampire-related content on the student wall of their high school’s official FaceLook fan page. When the principal decides not to recognize The Fangtastics as a legitimate school club because she believes it endorses dangerous cult activity, a students posts a critical satire about the decision on the student wall. The student administrator of the wall does not remove the satire or related student postings. The principal claims that all the students violated school policies by posting content that threatened a safe and efficient learning environment. The students claim that their First Amendment rights were violated and sue the principal and the school district in federal court.

Oxford Style Debate

Students in the courtroomIn the Oxford style debate, the 1) scenario, 2) procedures, and 3) agenda stimulate lively courtroom interactions among the students, the host federal judge, and volunteer attorney coaches. Eight students, selected by their teacher(s) in advance, are attorneys on opposing sides of the issues. 4) They use suggested talking points with prepared judge’s questions that they are provided in advance. The judge also asks spontaneous, follow-up questions to elicit their opinions. All other students serve as jurors who deliberate in a virtual jury room in the gallery of the courtroom.

Debate Materials for Teachers

Students in the courtroomThe program materials are reviewed by the teachers before selecting the student attorneys. The student attorneys are the only students who receive the materials in advance. Student attorneys should be prepared to read the talking points comfortably so that everyone can easily hear and understand them, but they shouldn’t memorize the points. The student jurors read the fictional scenario for the first time when they arrive in the courtroom.

From the ABA Journal:

Site Unseen: Schools, Bosses Barred from Eyeing Students’, Workers’ Social Media