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Resources for Teaching this Activity

Differentiate and Adapt this Activity

Reduce the Number of Arguments: Include only a few of the arguments for each side and have students use careful reading techniques. To determine which arguments to keep, review the majority opinion excerpts and keep the arguments that best align to the opinion so that the connection is clearer to students.

Anatomy of a Case: To reduce the difficulty of this activity consider instead using the Anatomy of a Case activity found in the “Using Case Studies in the Classroom” guide. Using the case summary at either the middle school or high school level, remove the headings for the parts of the case summary (background, facts, issue, arguments, and decision). Instruct students to identify and label each element in the case summary.

Argument Strips: Enlarge and print copies of the arguments. Cut the paper into strips with one argument per strip. Have students arrange the arguments into 2 columns, one for the petitioner and one for the respondent. After students have successfully classified the arguments, ask them to reorder them from the most compelling at the top to the least compelling at the bottom for each side.

Color Signs/Hand Signals: To get students physically engaged in the activity, have students hold up different colored paper signs labeled “petitioner” or “respondent” or use a hand signal to show the party side they believe the argument supports.

Quiz-Quiz-Trade: To get students up and moving, you might use a “quiz-quiz-trade” protocol with this activity. Give every student an argument from one side of the case and have them identify which side of the argument it supports. Then have the students get up, share their argument with a classmate and discuss which side the argument supports. After discussing, the pair should correct each other if needed, then exchange their arguments and move on to quiz another student. This can last until students have discussed most arguments.

“Take a Stand”/Continuum: You might also choose to use a “Take A Stand” continuum activity evaluating which arguments students found to be the most persuasive. Mark the ends of the spectrum “Very Persuasive” and “Not Persuasive” and have students reposition as you discuss each argument. Alternatively, mark the ends of the spectrum “Petitioner” and “Respondent” read arguments and have students move to the side that the argument supports. Students can move further on the spectrum based on how strongly they believe the argument supports the party.

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.

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

Kahoot/Nearpod: This activity lends itself to being set up as a Kahoot or Nearpod activity. Post each argument and have students vote on which side of the case it supports.

Poll Everywhere: Using Poll Everywhere, students can select which party they believe each argument supports. There is also a competition format that rewards the speed at which the students answer.

Quizlet Live: If you want students to participate in small groups,Quizlet Live can be used to create a game that groups can play together.

Padlet: After completing the Classifying Arguments activity, use Padlet to collect students’ predictions about the decision in the case. Prior to the lesson, the instructor should do the following:

  1. Create an account in Padlet.
  2. Choose “Make a Padlet.” From the options select “Wall.”
  3. In the lower righthand corner, click the Plus sign.
  4. In the section for title, write the following question: How do you think the Supreme Court Ruled in this case? What rationale will the Court provide for its decision?
  5. In the upper right-hand corner, go to settings and make adjustments to the background, font and other features, including content filtering (which is recommended). Save your changes.
  6. In the upper right-hand corner, choose share. Select a method to share, perhaps via Google Classroom, email, or embedded URL. Follow procedures for sharing.

    Socrative: After completing the Classifying Arguments activity, use Socrative tocollect students’ predictions about the decision in the case. Prior to the lesson, the instructor should do the following:

    1. Set up an account on Socrative.
    2. Under “Quick Question,” choose “Short Answer.” In the space for “Optional Question” write this: How do you think the Supreme Court will rule in this case? What rationale will the Court provide for its decision?
    3. Choose the desired settings (including “allow unlimited answers” and “require student names.” Note that if you require student names, you will still be able to share responses with the class without including student names.)
    4. After students have read the case summary, login to Socrative and share your room name with students. Ask them to login and enter your room name.
    5. As the responses are entered, “hide” the responses until everyone is finished. Quickly scan the responses, identify four or five of the best among them and post them, one at a time. After each one, ask students to evaluate. Discuss as a group.

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

      Online Teaching/At-Home Learning: For suggestions for using this strategy in online/at-home teaching, see Street Law’s Materials for At-Home Learning webpage.

      Extend this Activity

      Judicial Opinion Writing Activity: After students have completed the Classifying Arguments 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

      Answer Key