Appellate Courts: Let's Take It Up

From iCivics

This lesson plan follows the case of a real middle school girl who was strip searched at school, and in so doing teaches students of roughly the same age to find out what happens when someone takes a case all the way to the Supreme Court.  

This lesson plan on Appellate Courts from the iCivics website is organized and easy to understand. It has a step-by-step plan for teachers, including a description of the lesson, learning objectives, and worksheets. Each lesson is laid out in the same way, keeping it easy to understand.


How do you use it?

This resource offers multiple opportunities for an audience of middle school students to learn about "taking a case up."  Via a range of handouts, from ones that summarize the Savanna Redding case and pull out the salient facts, to True/False quizzes, crossword puzzles, matching games, Venn Diagrams, and drawing exercises, students are directed to explore the Redding case in a multitude of ways.

There is no overview information within this resource itself on Appellate Courts, however, other than what is embedded in the exercise.

Beyond the handouts about the case itself, the site doesn’t go into detail or cite sources about Appellate Courts. It doesn't provide additional case studies or resources to access for further information.  Any background information about how courts work would have to come from supplemental information provided by the judge or classroom teacher. 

These handouts are best used as supplements to a short lecture (or perhaps a video from somewhere else) on how the Federal Court system works.

Who is the audience?

The clarity of the resource makes it appropriate for middle school and older students, albeit the material and style of presentation could make the handouts valuable for a presentation to older primary students.

What other resources will complement this?

  1. Court Quest  Game from Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics and iCivics (M, H, A)
  2. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office (P, M H)
  3. Federal Courts & What They Do  Document from the Federal Judicial Center (H, A)
  4. Interactive Diagram of the Federal Court System — Interactive document from Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H, A)
  5. Oyez Baseball  Game from Justia and the Oyez Project (M, H, A)
  6. Supreme Decision  Game from iCivics (M, H) 
  7. What the Federal Courts Do  Website/slideshow from the Federal Judicial Center (M, 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.