The sixth grade students in Rachelle Wilson’s class are putting the Grinch on trial this week. He did steal Christmas after all, or so they say.
Students prepared for the trial by combing through the story several times to better analyze the characters and how their relationship to the Grinch helped showcase the overall theme of the text. Clips from the Jim Carrey movie version were incorporated to pull in a little backstory on the Grinch and what lead him to steal Christmas. In addition to analyzing the characters, the students also had to analyze crime scene photos (created by Wilson) from the houses the Grinch robbed.
This work culminated in the students writing a professional “legal brief” on whether or not they thought the Grinch should be held accountable. They had to tie in evidence from the text and the film.
Wilson took the top six legal briefs and assigned those students to be the lawyers in the trial. The rest of the students had the chance to audition for the roles of the various witnesses through the book, including the Grinch. The remaining students served as jury members. Wilson, as the teacher, served as the judge.
Washington Irving Principal Karen Hastings and Assistant Principal Ryan Smith served as the prosecution’s surprise witnesses, Santa and Mrs. Clause!
Students prepared for the trial by watching videos of mock trials online, and working in groups based on the role they would play in the trial.
The prosecution team had two witnesses, two surprise witnesses and four crime scene photos that they could concentrate on for presenting their case. The defense had five character witnesses, plus the testimony of the Grinch. While the prosecution team focused on scientific evidence and crime scene photos, the defense had to focus on character witnesses who spoke on behalf of the Grinch and how he had changed.
“This lesson turned out to be one of my most successful projects,” said Wilson. “The kids were fully engaged and wanted to try their best on their writing assignments because they wanted to be one of the lawyers. Their writing assignments were the best that I have gotten all year.”
The students enjoyed the project too!
“We learned a lot about how the court system works. It was a fun project,” said Kelsi V.
“Court can be fun, but we learned you have to give evidence to support your claims,” said Taylan S.
Ultimately, the Grinch was found guilty on charges of Breaking and Entering, Burglary, and Identify Theft. He was found innocent on the charges of Vandalism and Destruction of Property. He was sentenced to work in Santa’s Workshop for 365 days to make up for his crimes.
What a fun and engaging project for our students! We’re proud of our outstanding sixth graderstudents and staff at Washington Irving!