A Day in the Life

From PBS.org 

This interactive quiz-type game describes 10 situations encountered in the daily life of an American teen. Players choose the related Supreme Court decision that directly impacts the rights and freedoms of citizens of the United States and then they learn about those cases.  
For example, the second question of the game asks a student which Supreme Court case gives a student the right to refrain from saying the Pledge of Allegiance. 

After selecting the correct (or perhaps incorrect) response (e.g. West Virginia v. Barnett 1943), students learn about the specific case by reading a brief summary, which is accompanied by a picture.

How do you use it?

This resource is an engaging way for a high school audience to understand how court decisions affect their everyday lives.  The ten situations provided are pertinent to teenagers, making what might seem to be "dry" case law accessible and personally meaningful. A Day in the Life could be used as a way to structure a talk to teens or it could be used following a presentation to reinforce information presented. 

If a judge is presenting the questions (before revealing the answers), the judge might want to have students briefly explain why a suggested answer is correct before the "real" answer is revealed, that way issues and principles can be taught as well as case names.

Judges who find the interactive game appealing will want to play it themselves beforehand and determine how best to use it in a presentation; there is no specific teacher's guide along with it, although the PBS website on the Supreme Court does include a number of related lesson plans that could be scanned for ideas.  Those lesson plans can be found here.

This would be a helpful exercise if students are currently learning court cases in class. Note too that the brief description of the court case provided after each question is mildly useful, but there is no link to a website or document with more information or even the full court case.  Judges who use this site for a presentation might want to consider what other resources they might want to bring into their talk.  

Who is the audience?

The strength of this activity lies in the fact that it is interactive and correlates its information to the life of someone who might be in middle school or high school.  Despite the informality of the quiz, however, the information in the game is relatively sophisticated, so the intended audience is older than a first glance might suggest.  

The focus and specificity of the quiz make it especially appropriate for high school and older students, albeit the material and style of presentation is sufficiently engaging that younger students could use the site and the resources with direction.

What other resources will complement this?

  1. 9/11 and the Constitution  Lesson plans from the Center for Civic Education (M, H)  
  2. Balancing Free Speech and Fair Trial   Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (H)
  3. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (P, M H)
  4. Interpreting the Constitution: What Does That Mean?  Lesson Plan from iCivics (H)
  5. Korematsu and Civil Liberties  Video from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  6. One Person, One Vote  Video and lesson plan from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  7. Perseverance and the Bill of Rights  Lesson plan from the Bill of Rights Institute, via the National Constitution Center (M, H)  
  8. Respecting Freedom of Speech  Lesson Plan from the Bill of Rights Institute, via the National Constitution Center (M, H)  
  9. Supreme Decision  Game from iCivics (M, H) 
  10. The First and Fourteenth Amendments  Lesson Plan from Channel One (M, H)  
  11. The Story of the Bill of Rights  Videos and game from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H)
  12. Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause  Video from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)

Additional Recommended Resources Off-Site Links
  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.