Students learn what happens in appellate-level courts and how those courts operate differently from the trial courts most people are familiar with from watching television. By following the case of a real middle school girl who was strip searched at school, students find out what happens when someone takes a case all the way to the Supreme Court. Through this case, students learn about the structure of the federal court system and the way appellate courts decide cases.
Students will be able to:
Explain the purpose of the appellate courts.
Describe how appellate courts work.
Compare the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
DISTRIBUTE one copy of the “Appellate Courts: Help! I lost my case!” anticipation activity and the “Let’s Take This Baby UP!” reading worksheet to each student.
ANTICIPATEby reading the first part of the “Help! I lost my case!” worksheet with the class.
EXPLAIN the directions on the worksheet, so students understand that all are valid questions but only some of the questions will help Susie and Bob find out what is going to happen to them.
TIME five minutes while students mark the questions they think they will need to answer.
POLLstudents quickly to find out how many marked each question. If you wish, briefly discuss why each one might answer Susie and Bob’s questions.
READ the “Let’s Take This Baby UP!” handout with students. Have them raise their hands if they think they spot an answer to one of Susie and Bob’s questions. Pause to discuss.
CHECK for understanding using the true/false activity (see Active Participation Guide)
DISTRIBUTE the Appellate Courts worksheet, sides 1, 2, and 3 if desired. Page 3 also works well as a homework assignment.
PREVIEW the worksheet with students to be sure they understand the directions.
FOCUS on page two. Matching statements with reasons will require students to think carefully about what they have learned. The answers are not directly in the reading. Students must use reasoning skills to extrapolate from what they know. This is a good activity for pairs or for the class to do as a group.