Scripted Mock Trial in Action

After taking time to work on the chapter discussion questions in preparation for tomorrow’s quiz and Friday’s journal check, the students took over class to conduct a mock trial.  This pre-scripted trial asked the students to participate as lawyers for the defense, the prosecution, witnesses, the defendant, members of the jury, the bailiff, and the judge.

In the case of State v. Pat Morton, my classes arrived at the following verdicts:

  • 3rd Period- Not Guilty
  • 4th Period- Not Guilty
  • 5th Period- Not Guilty
  • 6th Period- Not Guilty

After arriving at the verdict, we spent the rest of the time discussing our thoughts on the process of the mock trial.  The students offered their thoughts for an upcoming mock trial that they will create themselves later on this week.

Homework:

  • Review for tomorrow’s quiz.
    • TKAM- Chapters 12-21
    • ROTHMC- Chapters 6-9

PowerPoint:

Understanding a Mock Trial

In preparation for the upcoming unscripted mock trial, my students had the opportunity to ease into the mindset needed in order to successfully interact in a mock trial setting.

First, we explored a couple of debate scenarios:

  • Scenario #1:
    • Should middle schoolers be able to watch R-rated movies in school that go along with books they read?
  • Scenario #2: 
    • Dave hacks into the systems of the Enormous Telecommunications Company (ETC) and copies a file that describes certain details of ETC’s delicate switching equipment. When Dave is nabbed by the Feds, they charge him with theft. Is this correct?
      • What if the document is provided essentially for free by ETC to anyone for the price of postage?

This, naturally, generated quite a spirited discussion as we moved on to watching a video from 2008 of high school students competing in a mock trial competition where Overbrook High School in Pennsylvania won. This video served to illustrate how a successful mock trial should look and function.

If time allowed, we first discussed the important points in a trial.  We then got started on a scripted mock trial.  Regardless, we will perform this scripted mock trial tomorrow.

Homework:

  • Read for 30 minutes and record it in your reading log:
    • TKAM: Chapter 20
    • ROTHMC: Finish Chapter 9

PowerPoint:

#TheDress and Empathy

#TheDress

They say that “perception is reality” and luckily, the Internet provided the perfect example as a segue into today’s lesson on empathy.  Is it wrong if others see things differently?  Does the context in which we see things make a difference in our perceptions?

Of course context makes all the difference.

Source: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/02/26/this-may-be-the-explanation-that-puts-to-rest-the-great-debate-over-thedress/
Source: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/02/26/this-may-be-the-explanation-that-puts-to-rest-the-great-debate-over-thedress/

Apparently, if one changes the white balance of the photo, you can see that the dress is blue and black.  For me, I saw it as white and gold until I looked at the context of the photo.  Everything else in the background was brighter, fuzzier, and whiter than normal.  The image was not true to life as the picture at the left is made to be (that image, by the way, is from the dress’ manufacturer Roman Originals.)  When it comes down to it, our brains can play tricks on us.

After our discussion about #TheDress, we then moved into our empathy activity.  Each student answered 3 questions from the “Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes” handout they received from ReadWriteThink onto a 3″x5″ notecard.  They then placed that into their right shoe and put the shoe into the center of the room.

Each student then had to try to fill out the rest of the questions they had left on their handout based on the shoe and the three questions that had been answered.  Needless to say, each student walked away (uh oh, it’s a pun) understanding more of what it means to empathize with others.

Homework:

  • Read for 30 minutes:
    • TKAM- through Chapter 10
    • ROTHMC- through Chapter 5

PowerPoint:

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

(In keeping with this week’s theme of “The Power of Words,” I have decided to include this repost from my auxiliary blog “Ms.Willipedia Writes” which features education and life-related writings as a part of my own ongoing Genius Hour project.)

 

Originally Published on January 8th, 2015

Written by: N. Williams

image

Today Paris, France was the site of a heinous attack on the freedom of expression.  Armed gunmen, reportedly radical Islamist militants, entered the offices of the French satire publication Charlie Hebdo, known for its political cartoons, opened fire, and left 12 unarmed people dead.

I love Paris.

I lived in Paris during college.

Paris taught me to be more independent, self-sufficient, and adventurous.  Paris taught me to fully trust and love myself.

As a teacher of English, I am in the business of free speech. State-specified standards guide my day-to-day lessons where my students share their thoughts, feelings, observations of the world (and of assigned texts), and aspirations in the the most successful form of the written word they can.  By the end of each year, the tests/essays/ grades only tell so much of their individual journeys toward communicating their ideas more effectively, but even the most reluctant of students grow.

This is why we communicate.  We communicate to understand the world around us.  We communicate to explore the world around us.  We communicate so that we can see how much more we have in common with our so-called enemies.  We communicate in order to grow.

Paris’ sense of freedom has been attacked.  The freedom of speech we hold so dear in functional actual-democracies had been challenged by those who fear mere letters and pictures on a page.  These types of attacks remind us that letters, pictures, and ideas have power more so than any knife, gun, or bomb.

“I hate writing.”

So many students have entered my middle school classroom over the years not realizing the almost-magical powers they possess within their own hands.  They think they hate writing.  They think they hate being challenged. They think they hate being required to think, but they are wrong.  We tend to forget that many wars were spurred on by written ideas.  Countries such as ours were established with the flourish of a well-inked pen.  So, I challenge them, as the future, to make their writing count.

Take a look back at the picture before my first words here. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.  The London-based illustrator Lucille Clerc sums it up in such a poignant image.  The words/images/ideas of yesterday that are feared and assaulted today will only multiply in power and effect tomorrow.

To all those who challenge the freedom of expression, watch out: you may create a larger enemy to fight tomorrow.

With this first post I launch “Ms. Willipedia Writes.”

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The warm 3-day weekend wrapped up with the historic inauguration of our President on the same day as we celebrate the achievements and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.  In fact, I found out that President Obama is one of only 17 presidents to give an inaugural address to jump start his second term.  Did you know that his second inauguration is not the first Presidential Inauguration to coincide with MLK Day?  Interestingly enough, President Bill Clinton‘s second inauguration was also on MLK Day.  How fascinating!

On our first day back (and the day before the Georgia Middle Grades Writing Assessment) we played an ELA version of Family Feud for the activator (the 10 minutes prior to the main lesson) and played Writing Assessment Review Jeopardy.  The students seemed to have a wonderful time.

This afternoon was the last of the Pre-Writing Assessment after-school tutoring sessions.  I want to thank all of the students who stayed after school or came during connections for additional help.  That level of initiative is what will surely be the foundation of success.  I am so proud to teach such students!

PowerPoint: forthcoming

HOMEWORK: Get a good night of sleep!  Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review which is due in 1 week (on Tuesday, January, 29th, 2013).

The Week of January 14-18th in Review

In preparation for tomorrow’s Writing Assesement, last week was devoted to review of all of the writing strategies that had been addressed in class.  I held two tutoring sessions during and after school to assist those who felt they needed to practice some skills, ask additional questions, or receive extra teaching.  It was an absolute blast!  As a result, I will be holding weekly after-school tutoring sessions starting within the next couple of weeks.  Finally, on Friday, we wrapped up the week with a timed writing to simulate part of what the students will encounter tomorrow.

PowerPoint: forthcoming

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and work on the Guided Book Review (Due Tuesday, January 29th, 2013)

WELCOME BACK! Tuesday-Friday, January 8th-11th, 2013

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Winter Break!

Tuesday:

On this first day back for the students, we did a writing strategy recap.  As a whole group, we looked at a sample expository writing prompt and broke it down using TAPP-F.  This strategy helps the students look at the key points in a writing prompt to determine what it is that they need to do in order to be successful.

  • T=Topic
    • This is where the students take a topic in its entirety and summarize it in one to two sentences.
  • A=Audience
    • According to the writing prompt (topic), who is going to read the essay/letter/speech?
  • P=Purpose
    • Why is this essay/letter/speech being written?  Is it to persuade or to inform/explain?
  • P=(Organizational) Pattern
    • How should you organize your writing? Should it be organized in:
      • chronological order (in order of time)?
      • logical order (in order of what makes the most sense to you)?
      • cause and effect order (where the cause of something is discussed first and then its effects)?
      • problem and solution order (where the problem is presented and then you discuss a possible solution)?
      • comparison and contrast (where two or more things are discussed for how they are similar and dissimilar)?
  • F=Format
    • In what form are you writing?  Is it supposed to be:
      • a letter?
      • an essay?
      • a speech?

The students had to dissect and brainstorm using TAPP-F on the topic below:

Lunch GMWA writing topic

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes and write an introduction paragraph based on the topic presented in class.  Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Writing Strategy Recap 1.8.13

——————————-

Wednesday:

In class, each student continued formulating and organizing their ideas using a graphic organizer to map out their body paragraphs.  I provided some assistance by guiding them through the process using the ELMO document camera.

HOMEWORK: Complete the body paragraph sections in the graphic organizer provided in class. Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Body Paragraphs 1.9.13

__________________

Thursday:

Having mapped out the body paragraphs both in class and for homework the previous night, the students began work on sculpting a strong conclusion.  With the time remaining in class, each student then took what they wrote in the graphic organizer the night before and translated it into a rough draft.  Those who did not finish in class had to complete it for homework, due at the beginning of their class period on Friday the 11th.

HOMEWORK: Complete the rough draft of the letter to the principal.  Read for 30 minutes.

PowerPoint: Conclusions 1.10.13

__________________

Friday:

The week wrapped up with practical application of all of the skills practiced this week in the form of a timed writing.  As a reminder, the students used the acronym of T-BOW ( (c) 2013 Me) to guide them through the writing process.  T-BOW represents:

  • T=TAPP-F (see above under “Tuesday”)
  • B=Brainstorm
  • O=Organize (see above under “Tuesday” as well)
  • W=Write

All of the drafting homework from the previous days this week were due at the beginning of each class with no late work being accepted (except in rare circumstances).

HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes.  Remember, this upcoming Tuesday is our next Library Day!  Find your library books and have a wonderful weekend!

PowerPoint:  Timed Writing Day 1.11.13

 

Friday, September 28th, 2012 Recap

What a busy week this has been!

On Friday, the students took a quiz on brainstorming, TAPP, and clauses.  Overall, the students did well.  These scores will be used to determine the students’ groups and pairings for next week’s activities.

Once the students finished, they had the opportunity to begin brainstorming on a topic of their choice from the ones below (1st and 2nd periods did not have the opportunity to do this):

1. Should state colleges be free to attend?
2. Should all American citizens have to complete a year of community service?
3. Should students be required to take Spanish classes?
4. Should the voting age be lowered to thirteen?
5. Should the driving age be raised to twenty-one?
6. Should immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally be given legal status if they have been here for a certain number of years? (this one was created by a student in 2nd period)

The plan right now is for these brainstormed ideas to serve as the basis for a writing assignment next week.

HOMEWORK: None.  Have a wonderful weekend.

PowerPoint: 9-28-12 Assessment Day

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Wednesday plunged us deep into class discussions on the following topics:

  1. Should college athletes be paid for playing?
  2. Should the elderly receive free bus rides?
  3. Should state colleges be free to attend?

The students really enjoyed discussing these and their opinions varied widely.  It was quite exciting!  We then took a step back to channel these ideas into a mind map and just practiced brainstorming.  In fact, the students were able to use the points brought up in discussion to assist them.

HOMEWORK: Complete week-long assignments

PowerPoint: (Forthcoming)

Monday, September 24th, 2012 Recap

*Edited

After completing the quizzes on gerunds and prepositions (which took up a majority of the class period), we broke down the writing prompt given to first period on Friday.  We just opted to do T, A, and P:

  • Topic: Should kids do chores at home?
  • Audience: adults in one’s family
  • Purpose: to persuade

HOMEWORK: 

  • 1st Period: Begin work on the week’s homework.  Read for 30 minutes.
  • 2nd, 6th, and 7th: Finish in-class essays.
  • All classes: complete take-home quiz

PowerPoint: 9-24-12 Be Clause You’re Worth It!

 

In-Class Essay: (forthcoming)