While reading the novel “The Outsiders” in class, 8th grade English students at Goff Middle School put one of the main characters on trial for murder. The mock trial helped students develop writing skills and review the events of the book through an engaging activity.
Students were assigned roles for the trial, including the defendant Johnny Cade, witnesses from the Greasers and Socs, as well as prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys and jurors.
The classes worked on a variety of writing pieces for the trial including opening statements, crafting questions and answers for the witnesses, and even composing a closing argument. All of the students’ writing needed to be based on details from the novel.
For the day of the trial, students had to work on their public speaking skills as they presented their statements, questions, responses and closing arguments to the jury. When the trial proceedings ended, the jury went into the hall to deliberate and returned with a verdict.
“This was my first year doing this trial with students, and it was inspired by my experience serving on a jury for two weeks last year,” said English teacher Monica Barnes. “During that trial, I really saw how argument writing plays such a key role in real-life situations. I thought that this mock trial would be an exciting way for students to see the different components of argument writing in action. It was a great interactive experience, and my students were very enthusiastic to be a part of a courtroom.”