Sunday, February 04, 2007

Of Mice and Men

Yikes! So much going on - on Ramapo Islannds, on SLED list, inworld on Main Grid - I am daunted by those of my colleagues who seem to manage to "do it all". Thanks to Claudia Linden for a great afternoon tea meeting Friday - at which I promised to update this blog~ and since tomorrow we are beginning a new project, there is not time like the present! Ms. McGrath's 8th graders have finished reading Of Mice and Men and are going to be conducting a (actually two different) mock trial(s). Let me try and a outline the plan for you here:

1. The classes (4 of them) have been divided into two groups. One group will participate in a trial wherein the character, "George" is tried for the murder of Lenny. The second group will address a different scenario where they will re-write the ending of the book in order to have Lenny be tried for the murder of Curly's wife.

Each student has been assigned a role in their group. The roles are:
1. Judge: (one for each of the two different trials)
2. Jurors: the number will vary according to class size but will be anywhere from 5-9 students
3. Witness: Each trial will have two students assigned to the witness role and each of these students will be responsible for representing three dor four different characters from the book as witnesses
4. Defense Attorney: One for each of the two trials in each class
5. Prosecuting Attorney: One for each of the two trials in each class
6. Court Reporter: one for each trial who will be responsible for recording a complete chat transcript and have it available for reference by jurors
7. News Reporter: One for each trial who will be responsible for reporting to the classes the 'news" of how the trials are proceeding and also to blog the daily events.
8. Bailiff: One for each trial to keep order and report any inappropriate behavior.

The roles were assigned by the Ms. McGrath on Friday - and an outline of the project was distributed to the students in order that they understand their roles and responsibilities. The excitement in each class was contagious! These kids have all had some experience in Second Life prior to this project as they have already completed a Social Studies project (immigration and Ellis Island) and a math project (The Geo Gallery)

Ms. McGrath distributed this notice to the lawyers in the cases:

Prosecution and Defense Lawyers:

CONGRATULATIONS on being chosen for the exciting job a criminal attorney. Please join me on Monday during period 4 with food at Zeta’s ATTORNEY LUNCHEON J.

You have homework due for Monday…
· Before we can start with each attorney’s opening statement…Look up the difference between a 1st degree murder and second degree murder-If you are prosecuting, you must have a good argument for the Judge why we should convict George or Lennie. If you are a defense attorney, you should have a good argument why your client (Lennie or George), should have the lesser of the two charges (less time or more time behind bars if convicted).
· Please make a list of evidence you would like to use as evidence from the book either to prosecute or defend your client-we can talk to Mrs. Sheehy about creating the evidence in “second life.”
· Using the novel, take notes on specific quotes that can support your arguments that you are going to use in trial-the more you have, the more interesting the trial will be. On Monday, you will meet with three other people from other periods who have the same role as you in the trial & you can share your strategies at lunch.
· Decide which character witnesses you would like to ask questions to help prove your case: Slim, Curly, Crooks, George, Lennie, Candy, Carlson, The Boss (Curly’s Dad), or any expert witnesses you can think of? You must let the opposing attorney know what witnesses you will question, so they can prepare to question them too.

We have also explained to the Jurors that they must leave their personal viewpoints in the real world and that the verdict must be decided based upon evidence presented ONLY!

The witnesses must be dprepared to present multiple characters and again must only present information from the book.

So, I spent a good deal of this weekend creating our courthouse, worrying about the potential lag - and if the actual space is big enough to support 25 avatars at a time - my doors only open one way, and the ceiling is a bit slanted, but it was my first build. We could have let the kids create the courthouse, but we wanted the bulk of our very precious class time to be dedicated to the actual proceedings rather than the construction of the setting.


Mercury Metropolitan said...

What a wonderful lesson being taught in a very creative way. I really wish I had this kind of interactive learning opportunity in Middle School. Roleplaying in a virtual world sounds a lot more exciting than writing a response on a piece of paper! (Paper is so passé anyway) hehe. You're breaking new ground here, and I really hope that your students realize this! :)

Steve said...

My tenth grade class is going to be doing this whitin a few weeks though it will not be as complicated... their will be two students. one representing george and one the dead lenni. the student that has lenni as a client will try to persude the judge and jury (who are outside people) the george is guilty of murder and should be put in prison.. its going to be very intresting to see what happens

Anonymous said...

Steve you are an ENGLISH teacher?

Anonymous said...

im in 9th grade and we are just starting this. im on the prosecuting team. im really looking forward to it.