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Of Mice and Men Mock Trial 2016

Assistant CMS Principal Daniel Coplon-Newfield as Judge has sidebar with defense lawyers The courtroom bustles with the usual players; lawyers, jurors, reporters, and character witnesses to name a few.  However, this courtroom happens to be located at Chenery Middle School.  The players are students from eighth-grade English classes, and the trial is from the John Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men.

The mock trial is an extension of the Of Mice and Men unit, which started over a decade ago with Michelle Connors.  Since then, the current eighth-grade teachers have worked to build this mock trial into a collaborative, project-based learning experience.  The teachers, Caitlin Corrieri, Michelle Connors, and Jill MacKinnon, have built this mock trial into a collaborative, project-based learning experience for all eighth grade students, “The Of Mice and Men trial gives students an opportunity to shine in ways that their peers have not seen or noticed,” says Jill MacKinnon an early collaborator with Michelle Connors.  “It also demonstrates to students some uncovered talents they may have not recognized in themselves.”

Juries from B Block Mock Trial The eighth-grade English teachers believe project-based learning provides the best sort of differentiated learning, where students have different tasks and roles suited to their needs and feel part of the same community.  “It allows the students to be creative, to work collaboratively, and to take ownership of their work no matter which role they’re in,” says Corrieri.  “They learn about the power of working as a team and how they need to be responsible for their individual part in order for the team to be successful.”

Students prepared for weeks for their various roles in the courtroom, and come to the mock trial costumed in these roles.  There are five mock trials for each class, with different Chenery community judges made up of parents, principals, teachers and staff.  This year, the mock trial runs from March 3-March 9, with jury deliberation on March 10.

There have been many parent and community volunteers assisting with the preparation of the mock trial, including lawyers, a representative from the Massachusetts Office of Jury Commissioner, a public relations professional, and an investigative journalist.  The coverage of the mock trial has grown this year to include live tweeting and podcasts, with help from Belmont Media Center staff and Belmont resident Mitch Hanley from NPR fame.  Belmont Media Center staff also worked with students from script writing to interviewing to recording and production.  The students portraying the media have created websites and social media accounts, covering the courtroom as a journalist would.

Defense Team The mock trial helps the characters in Steinbeck’s novel come alive, and helps the students develop multiple skills while participating, “Students demonstrate their writing skills, speaking skills, analysis skills, and critical thinking skills as they create cross examination questions, deliberate in the jury room, and capture the essence of the courtroom through live tweeting,” says Corrieri.  Lindsay Rinder, Director of English, ELL and Reading, says the students remember this mock trial experience long after middle school, “It serves as a capstone project that students talk about as a defining educational experience even after they come to the high school.”

Websites for the Mock Trials are:

C block: http://anaumann20.wix.com/chenerytrialc

E block: http://saladbowly.wix.com/eblock

A block: http://salinasvalleynews.wix.com/svn-news

B block: http://atavshikar20.wix.com/westcoastpost

G block: http://salinasscoopmocktrial.weebly.com/

Assistant CMS Principal Daniel Coplon-Newfield as Judge has sidebar with defense lawyers  Juries from B Block Mock Trial  Defense Team