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Students improvise during mock trial

Objections, points and counterpoints were heard throughout the courtroom as the judge’s gavel pounded against his desk. Such were the sounds one would hear in a senior civics class during the week of Nov.15. Robert Foshee’s civics class acted out a mock murder trial all week.

The mock trial was a fictional case that the students prepared, processed and executed. Foshee wanted to give the students the hands on experience of a real courtroom atmosphere.

“The students learned all the factual information from the civics book and I wanted them to be able to put it into practice,” Foshee said. “I think they will better understand what I’m trying to teach them if they can actually use what they learned.”

Some students felt this non-traditional approach helped them learn more then they normally would.

“Doing a mock trial really helps me understand what the book is talking about because you get to put it into practice,” Lindsay Patterson, ’03, said.

Preparation for the mock trial had a few steps. First the students were given their parts/roles and it was their responsibility to learn them. Then Foshee gave them the background information of the case, which they used to write an opening statement and prepare questions for their witnesses.

The script Foshee provided allowed students to improvise certain aspects of their parts.

“I like being a witness because anything my script doesn’t say I could make up,” Byron Erkenbrecker, ’03, said. “That makes the trial more interesting because no one knows what I am going to say.”

This fictional trial offered the students the opportunity to play different roles
.
“The trial lets you play different roles and it makes you think,” Nathan Yockey, ’03, said. “It is like a game that makes learning more exciting.”

Not only did the trial give the students information, it gave them a taste of the real world and what a real courtroom might be like.

“This is really good practice if you want to get involved in law,” Greg Andris, ’03, said. “Being a lawyer is a lot harder than I thought it would be.”

In addition to the mock trial, the civics class has taken advantage of many other hands-on experiences including trips to the Fresno Courthouse and City Hall.

For more information on hosting or learning about or participating in student mock trials, go to www.holdamocktrial.com or www.crf-usa.org/law_government/mock_trial.html. Foshee can be contacted at 297-9464, ext. 143.

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