Juniors in the Honors English III and English III classes recently completed a mock trial learning activity that promoted several competencies featured in the district’s Graduate Profile, including critical thinking/problem solving, communication, and collaboration. Under the guidance of English Instructor Mrs. Meghan Riley-Farrow, students read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Black Cat” and focused on key skills including close reading and annotating a text for evidence collection. Students worked in prosecution, defense, and jury teams to collect evidence from the text, appropriately integrate quotes, and create a compelling argument with claims and strong evidence to present a case in a mock trial for the narrator in the story "The Black Cat". The prosecution brought charges of animal abuse and murder against the narrator while the defense team made the case that the narrator was not guilty by reason of insanity. Students serving on the jury were responsible to provide evidence demonstrating that the narrator could be guilty or not guilty, display impartiality, and work as a team to develop a rubric to judge the case.
The mock trial included opening statements, claims, rebuttals, and closing statements employing quotes and evidence from the short story. After delivering a verdict, the jury team provided constructive criticism to the prosecution and defense teams based on rubrics that each side had created to evaluate their cases. The activity concluded with a class discussion that highlighted how the students had created a clear and well-argued analysis essay as a team, and to use the experience as a springboard for future writing projects. Congratulations to all participating students for their superb work!