Develop empowering skills and multicultural awareness
The most important constituent of the You! Be the Judge in the Classroom experience is the freewheeling undirected expression of opinions by the students. If there is time only for this, You! Be the Judge has played an important role in developing a new awareness in the students of listening intently to diverse opinions and to develop their logical thinking of what is right, what is wrong, what is fair and what is unfair.
Note: For ESL or SSL, the teacher may wish to start the class with Preparation for ESL or SSL before continuing below.
Before Starting the Case
Before activating the media of choice, the teacher takes the monkey of "right or wrong" off the student's back.
"You're going to hear/watch/read a dramatization of a court case. There's going to be a conflict between two or more people. Then because they can't settle their problem by themselves, they land in court, and each one gives his or her argument to the judge. Right before the judge's decision, I am going to stop the player and I will ask each one of you what you think the decision should be. Now, I want you to remember one thing - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER. Always remember that in the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, and the Canadian Supreme Court in Ottawa, there are nine Justices. And each one can come out with a different decision."
Listen, view and discuss
The teacher starts the media, but stops it right before the decision. The teacher then asks each student to be a judge and render his/her opinion of what they think the decision should be. It might be helpful to ask students for their individual opinions and then write each one on the flip chart of paper. Then the teacher can go through each opinion ask for a vote on how many agree.
Before the Decision
After eliciting the opinions of what the decision should be, but before letting the class hear the decision, the teacher says to the class, "You are now going to listen to the decision. Now it may or may not be the best way to settle the parties' differences. After you listen to the decision, I want you to think of how you would have decided the case so that everyone could have come out of court a winner." The class then listens to the decision.
After the Decision
The teacher asks each student for their opinion of an alternate win-win solution, or in the alternative, asking for opinions and writing them on the board.
Then the students debate the individual value of the different opinions. Here the teacher may use our 4 questions supplied with each case to help focus and widen the discussion.
Inviting Experts from the Community-At-Large
An exciting complement would entail the students taking the initiative to invite members of the community who can bring an expertise relevant to the case, and with whom the students can interact.