Thursday, December 2, 2010

1st Field Trip 2010

I've been pretty nervous about today. I dislike taking field trips. It's like taking small kids to the grocery store. You never know if they could act up or talk to loud or just not follow directions. In the confines of a classroom, I can manage my students. They've gotten really good at following directions and being quiet and respectful. What on earth would they do in public. At a County Courthouse, no less?

One thing I had no doubts about - these students were ready. They were participating in a mock trial. The case involved teens texting while driving in bad weather. One of the teens in the car was severely injured and now suing the other teen. The case hinged on liability. Was the teen who was texting at fault, even though the teen was not texting at the time of the crash? Was it just bad weather to blame? Did the kids in the car deserve some blame for getting in the car knowing this teen liked to text behind the wheel?

We walked to the courthouse .4 miles. It was around freezing, near 32 degrees. Thankfully, there is an old shopping center halfway between school and the courthouse and we were able to cut through the mall and heat up a bit. Once at the courthouse, everyone went through security which I think made the students realize this was a bit more serious than just a mock trial.

Mr. Holland, our judge for the day, led us upstairs to our courtroom. For the most part, students were really quiet! I think they were extremely intimidated by their surroundings. He pointed to where each "character" should sit from the attorneys to the witnesses to the jury. Then we held the trial.

Myself, Ms. Newton and Mr. Furrer sat in the stands. For the most part, my students "performed" like professionals, writing exceptional opening and closing statements. Their questioning was a bit rough, although since I had them to everything themselves, that was bound to happen. I gave them a bit of prompting but other than that they did all the research themselves!

There were a few laughs. The jury found for the plaintiff in the end with a little assistance from me. They worked hard and I'm so proud of them.

After the courtroom we took a brief tour of the courthouse. We went first to Mr. Holland's office/chambers. Students asked good questions such as how he got the job and what it is like to work there. I had one student ask about a document hanging on the wall (I figured it had some cool story behind it). Turns out it was a copy of the Gettysburg Address. Cool!

Then we headed to the Abe Lincoln exhibit. This entailed a brief video program in a little room depicting a few of the cases Lincoln tried right here in Champaign. For example, I didn't know he tried the first capital murder case in Champaign!

In the end, I am so glad I did this. Now I get to cruise into Finals. Next week we'll be doing review for the finals. Then the week after is Finals week.

So there you go. The latest in my teaching saga. I have so many blogs to catch you up on. I'll work on them soon!