Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#1232. Mock Trial

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Wed Aug 4 17:13:25 PDT 1999 by Charlotte Estep (
Madill High School, Madill, OK USA
Materials Required: Mock Trial information from State Bar Association
Activity Time: One week
Concepts Taught: Integration of Social Studies and Literature

After the traditional read and discussion of BEOWULF, we put one of the the main characters on trial.
There are several steps to this project.
1) After one of the crimes, Grendel kills thirty Danes; Grendel kills one of Beowulf's, the Geats, men; Beowulf uses devices to trap Grendel into coming to Heorot, time stops.
2) Students decide which crime will be the trial issue.
3) After a mini-lesson on trial language and participants, the students select the role they will undertake. I have a quiz on terms from mini-lesson. Students who score highest on quiz select roles.
4) Lawyers, defense and prosecution conduct inventigation.
5) Students who chose to be witnesses must go to text to decide just what they saw.
6) Inventigators question witnesses and defendent.
7) Attorneys prepare brief.
8) Jury is selected from underclass Social studies classes.
9) Trial commences.
10) Jury retires to consider verdict.
11) Jury returns verdict.

I fear I have left out so much "stuff." But this unit forces the students to return to text (they have to read, discuss, understand) to prepare for trial.
I encourage as much formality as possible. It would be ideal if an attorney or judge could come to talk to students. I tape, usually audio, the entire process.
The jury has been critical and serious about the whole process. I have been doing this for three years. Last year was the first year I had students who had served on the jury. They could not wait to begin the trial.
This is an integrated unit that administrators love. The students love it too. And as a side bar, they learn about BEOWULF the poem and can understand the universality of this piece of literature.