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Unit 1: No, David!

Introduction to the Rule of Law

This unit focuses on the rule of law and the impartiality of the courts. David, the main character from the book No, David!,  is known for being a trouble-maker.  He has been accused of theft. Should David’s character as a trouble-maker be considered when the facts are analyzed in this case?  Students engage in a mock trial, character analysis, argument writing, and serve as a jury.


Grade Levels

Ideal for Grades 4 & 5 (Adaptable to Grades 6-12)

  • New! Vocabulary and Mock Trial for primary reading level available in Bonus Materials

Stage 1: Desired Results


Democracy Calls for Equal Justice Under the Law

Essential Questions:

  • Are characters predictable?
  • What is justice?
  • In what ways does the Rule of Law apply to impartiality of the courts?
  • In what ways are arguments productive?
  • Are the processes in place in democracy designed to “level” individual bias in the court system effective? Why or why not?
  • Should one’s “character” influence judicial decisions? Why or why not?
  • California History Social Science Content Standards
    4.5.3: Describe the similarities (e.g., written documents, rule of law, consent of the governed, three separate branches) and differences….among federal state, and local governments.

    Discuss the meaning of the American creed that calls on citizens to safeguard the liberty of individual Americans within a unified nation, to respect the rule of law, and to preserve the Constitution.

  • Suggested K-12 Pathway for College, Career, and Civic Readiness

    Dimension 2, Civic and Political Institutions

    • D2.Civ.1.3-5: Distinguish the responsibilities and powers of government officials at various levels and branches of government and in different times and places.
    • D2.Civ.2.3-5: Explain how a democracy relies on people’s responsible participation, and draw implications for how individuals should participate.
    • D.2 Civ.3.3-5: Examine the origins and purposes of rules, laws and key U. S. constitutional provisions.
  • California English Language Arts Content Standards

    2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and their Characteristics)

    • State a clear position in support of a proposal.
    • Support a position with relevant evidence.
    • Follow a simple organizational pattern.
    • Address reader concerns.
  • Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

    College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing

    • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

    College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening

    • Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

    Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

    • Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
  • Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

    Theatre / Creative Expression

    • 2.1 Participate in improvisational activities to explore complex ideas and universal themes in literature and life.
    • 2.2 Demonstrate the use of blocking (stage areas, levels, and actor’s position, such as full front, quarter, profile, and full back) in dramatizations.
    • 2.3 Collaborate as an actor, director, scriptwriter, or technical artist in creating formal or informal theatrical performances.
    • 2.7 Communicate values, opinions, or personal insights through an original work of art.

Stage 2: End of Unit Authentic Assessment


Goal To use facts in the case and the rule of law and apply to the school law/rules to effectively determine the guilt or innocence of “David”.
Role Jury members summoned to the Classroom Superior Court as jury members
Audience The public, press, interested family members
Situation David, as the defendant, has been accused of theft, a violation of the school rules. The prosecutor must prove that David took property owned by someone else with the intent to prove the owner of it permanently.
Performance Jurors will listen to the testimony during the trial and the evidence presented. Following jury instructions given by the judge, they will determine the guilt or innocence of David, in writing, and orally through jury deliberations.
Standards for Success Following classroom jury instructions, jurors must provide arguments backed up with evidence of David’s guilt or innocence. In addition, jurors must include one counter claim and discuss in jury deliberation, why it is or is not to be believed. Jurors must present their final verdict to the judge.


Quality Criteria Absolutely Almost Not Yet
  • Written argument supports point of view with reasons and information
  • Clear intro, statement of argument
  • Logically ordered reasons supported by facts and details
  • Use of words, phrases and clauses
  • Provides conclusion related to argument presented
Speaking and Listening:
  • Collaborative discussions with clear expressions of ideas
  • Builds on other’s ideas, responds to others’ questions
  • Prepared, follows roles assigned
  • Reviews key ideas from discussion and draw conclusions, shares at a reasonable pace using logical reasoning.
  • Active participation in improvisation, exploring emotions, physical characteristics, developing character
  • Effective use of blocking for the “set” of the courtroom.
  • Strong collaboration in jury deliberation “in role”

Stage 3: Planned Lessons


Lesson plans and the facts, knowledge, concepts, and skills within are described below. Please select a lesson to view complete lesson plans:

  • Lesson 1: We're All CharactersCharacter development, character analysis, use of dialogue and movement (No David! / David Goes to School / David Gets in Trouble by David Shannon)
  • Lesson 2: "No David" on TrialReader’s theatre mock trial, applying and synthesizing the character development with analysis, creating effective characters, performing, beginning vocabulary development
  • Lesson 3: The Rule of Law and Impartiality of the CourtsA PowerPoint that focuses on the impartiality of the courts, judicial system as one of three branches (review and/or introduction to this area)
  • Lesson 4: Actively Understanding Key Academic Terms: Rule of law, impartiality, burden of proof, due process, attorney/lawyer/counselor, plaintiff, defendant, prosecutor, defense, objection, sustained, overruled, witness, bailiff, judge, jury
  • Lesson 5: So You Think You Can ArguePowerPoint on argument writing, leading your class to argument writing, giving examples, involving students. Students write their own argument following California Common Core State Standards. (Will need to lead students through the writing process: editing, refinement, and extra assistance beyond this lesson for proper argument writing.)
  • Lesson 6: Jury in ActionArgument writing, speaking and listening (using rubric and standards to be sure each area is addressed, this lesson is the authentic performance assessment). “Jury” meets, argues the case based on their written “brief”, and declares a final verdict to give to the judge.
  • Lesson 7: David Says Yes to the Rule of Law!This is an art lesson that helps conclude and further assess understanding — a class book with a message on each page from David about the Rule of Law.
  • Bonus MaterialsExplore additional materials related to Unit 1: No, David! that you may find helpful in your classroom