HomeHillsborough BeaconHillsborough fourth graders bring a mock trial to life

Hillsborough fourth graders bring a mock trial to life

To showcase their knowledge about the justice system, Hillsborough Elementary School fourth grade students preformed a mock trial for the school board officials.

During the Hillsborough Township Board of Education meeting on May 13, the group of fourth graders from Valerie Muldoon’s class of 21 students preformed the civil action mock trial called Betty Fingers vs. The Miracle Coffee Experience.

“This year I really had students up to the occasion. I am very much for the children learning about their rights, socials studies and activism,” Muldoon said. “I thought the students creating their own mock trials would tie in authentically with the them learning about government and civics.”

She said this was the first year her class had done an exercise such as this.

“They have books where you look at a trial for example like the big bad wolf. Where he says that he was misunderstood and goes to court, where he says he was innocent of the three little pigs and things like that,” Muldoon explained. “We talk about the case and about whether Goldie locks should have also been pursued with a lawsuit of breaking and entering into their house.”

She said the NJ State Bar Association Foundation does a Law Fair competition for elementary students every year and this year the class sent their own case entries in.

“We did send it in but did not win,” Muldoon reported. “We looked at past cases that had won. We really analyzed them. They had to learn all of the legal terms that we had on a sheet. They actually looked at a court room setting as well.”

She said her class of 21 students broke up into six to seven groups for this exercise and created their own separate cases.

“The groups each came up with a different scenario. They thought of things that could have been an injustice,” Muldoon said. “They had to determine if it would be a case for civil action or criminal action. Criminal had to be against the law and civil was usually seeking monetary damages of some kind. They went through the cases and did a really good job.”

She said the students did most of the work on their own.

“All I did was coach them, explain the terms to them and just guide them a little bit. Each of the groups presented their cases in the classroom and children voted on which case they wanted to write a script for,” Muldoon explained. “When the children were writing the script they consisted of not only the chosen groups case members but anyone student in class who wanted to be a part of it.”

This project was more of an enrichment exercise for the children who were capable of it, according to Muldoon.

“I would definitely do this exercise again next year if I have the same level of students. A lot of the time we spoon feed the children with so many things, but this time they did this exercise on their own,” she said.

They were set to present to the Hillsborough Township Board of Education members in March, but due to conflicts the students could not and they were excited to finally present in front of the school board Board earlier this month, according to Muldoon.

“I hope my students were able to takeaway from this exercise and presentation the idea that they can achieve whatever they set their minds out to do,” she said.

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