Bringing law into the classroom is the perfect way to connect the curriculum to the real world. When we teach from only one perspective we only get the “tip of the iceberg.” By building connections to other subjects and within the context of the real world student’s will be engaged and retain what they learn.
How many laws do you directly and indirectly encounter every day? There are some obvious laws that come to mind, like traffic laws. But what about the little things like the nutritional label on your box of cereal?
Law permeates throughout the real world. Unfortunately students (and some teachers) don’t always have the best knowledge of the Canadian legal system. For example you might see a story in the news with a picture of a gavel. Well not in Canada! Gavels are not used in Canadian courts.
The Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) has a wealth of resources of classroom ready materials for teachers. For example we have a Canadian vs. American courts lesson plan to teach kids that gavels aren’t used in Canadian courts (among other things). We also have lesson plans on topics you might not expect. For example lesson plans for science on distracted driving legislation.
A great way to bring law into the classroom is a mock trial. Students develop valuable critical thinking skills. Mock trials can easily be made into a cross-curricular event by putting a character from a book in English class on trial in Social studies class. Mock trials can be scripted or partially scripted. In a scripted mock trial students read from a script. In a partially scripted mock trial, students write the script. Partially scripted are the most engaging but might not be as legally accurate as a fully scripted resource.