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Resources for Teaching this Activity

Differentiate and Adapt this Activity

Learning stations: For cases with several precedents, create a learning station for each precedent case. Students should visit each station and complete the case summary graphic organizer for each precedent. This strategy gets students up and moving around the room.

“Take a Stand”/Continuum: Use a “Take A Stand” continuum activity and ask students to move along a continuum based on how analogous (similar) or distinguished (different) a precedent is to the comparison case. Students should discuss with people similarly situated. Ask for volunteers to explain why they chose to stand where they did.

Classroom Corners: For cases with several precedents, write the names of the precedent cases on signs and hang them in the corners of the classroom. Instruct student to move to the corner of the classroom based on which precedent case was the most important for the comparison case. In the groups created in the corners, students will discuss why they think the precedent they chose is the most important. Students will then discuss which decision their precedent commands in the comparison case. If groups disagree about the decision, they should split into two groups. Each group should report on their precedent to the rest of the class.  

Read Aloud App: Provide students with an electronic version of the activity and use a read aloud application to voice the text. Below are just a few of the many options available: 

  • Microsoft Narrator (Windows 10): Narrator is a screen-reading app that is built into Windows 10, so there’s nothing you need to download or install.
  • Read Aloud (Google Play)
  • Natural Reader
  • Technokids: Read Aloud for PDFs

Scaffold this Activity

Vocabulary Preparation: Teach vocabulary terms used in this activity (especially precedent, distinguished, analogous) prior to the lesson. Consider using a graphic organizer such as the Frayer Model

Model: Model precedent application thinking aloud using a case previously studied.

Teach/Review the Precedents: Prior to this lesson, teach or review the precedents in depth, check for understanding, answer questions, and clear up misconceptions.

Technology Suggestions

Break-Out Rooms: If teaching online and break-out rooms are a feature of your learning management system, send students to groups of 4 or 5 to complete the Applying Precedents activity. Bring students back together as a large group to discuss.

Discussion Boards: If teaching online and discussion boards are a feature your learning management system, create discussion strands for each question in the Applying Precedents activity. Instruct students to respond to some or all of the questions. 

Extend this Activity

Judicial Opinion Writing Activity: After students have completed the Applying Precedents activity, they can continue to write a decision for the comparison case using the Judicial Opinion Writing strategy. 

Moot Court/Mini-Moot Courts: After students have completed the Applying Precedents activity, you can reassign groups to conduct Mini-Moot Courts or a full Moot Court.  

Compare and Contrast Essay: After students have completed the Applying Precedents activity, assign a formal compare and contrast essay using the comparison case and a precedent case. For Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics students this can be modeled on the SCOTUS Comparison Free Response Question. 

Answer Key