Picture a stereotypical law school class with a
professor lecturing to an auditorium full of students scrambling to take
notes. These law students are likely bleary-eyed from attempting to
read tomes of law the night before. Law courses for high school students
should look, sound, and feel extremely different.
Best practices in law-related education indicate that teachers should
use interactive strategies to help students learn content and skills.
As you plan your course, think about what you want students to be able
to do as a result of your course.
Your law course can be a vehicle for teaching many higher-level
skills that will help your students succeed in many parts of their life.
Some of these critical school, work, and civic life skills include the
- developing questions
- planning inquiries
- gathering and evaluating sources
- developing claims and using evidence
- taking informed action
There are many ways to teach these skills—some of the teaching
methods most commonly associated with law courses are mock trials, moot
courts, mock hearings, legislative simulations, negotiations, case
studies, and deliberations. (Learn more in the teaching strategies section.)
A Street Law course can also help your students develop and
demonstrate skills expressed in the Common Core State Standards for
English Language Arts. Specifically, students in a Street Law course
practice the following standards-based skills:
- analyzing seminal U.S. documents of historical significance
- citing strong and thorough textual evidence
- discussing using evidence from primary and secondary texts
- developing reasoning and argument using that evidence
- assessing the validity of claims from a text
- responding thoughtfully to comments, claims and evidence made on all sides of an issue