Your  Account:

Unit 1, Lesson 2: "No David" on Trial

In this second lesson, students will discuss some of the vocabulary of the court as it relates to the case in which they will be involved. A PowerPoint helps to reinforce this vocabulary. They will also see a diagram for the courtroom, so that they may establish their own “blocking” for their depiction of the mock trial. They share their character analysis handout (homework) with one another, and discuss the way in which they plan to portray their character before performing the mock trial in their groups.


Materials & Resources Needed

Standards Addressed

  • Grade 5 Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards
    1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    2. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
    3. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
    4. Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
    5. Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

    Theatre — Creative Expression


    • 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.

Essential Question / Issue

Should one’s “character” influence judicial decisions? Why or why not?


  • Students will effectively analyze and portray characters in a courtroom/classroom drama by writing, speaking and enacting a mock trial.
  • Students will collaboratively discuss roles, consequences and ideas, and draw conclusions about the drama, giving their opinion on the same. (Evaluation)


Teacher observation based on the following rubric:

 Rubric Categories Absolutely Almost Not Yet
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
  • Explores emotions, physical characteristics, developing character
  • Effective use of blocking for the “set” of the courtroom

Learning Activities (60–65 minutes)

Hook: “Close your eyes and imagine yourself involved in a courtroom drama. In the role that you play, you must “become” that character, emotionally and physically. Please listen for directions.”


Show the courtroom diagram (on PowerPoint), using vocabulary, for example: the plaintiff and prosecuting attorney are sitting closest to the jury (PowerPoint notes for teacher before showing may be helpful), and talk about “blocking”. Blocking is the position actors take on stage; in this case the positions will simulate a courtroom trial. What will the “blocking” look like (description in theatre standard 2.2): full front, quarter, profile, and full back). For example, the defense and prosecuting attorneys ask questions of the witnesses by looking at them, with a quarter toward the jury (which isn’t there, but imaginary!). Ask students to identify where each member of the trial would be seated. Be sure to use the proper vocabulary (only some is introduced here) as you talk about the diagram and “blocking” for the courtroom.

Continue with the PowerPoint. Lesson 2 discussing some of the vocabulary with a Quiz Show giving definitions for some of the vocabulary for the unit.

See vocabulary handout (PDF) for all vocabulary (note: only some are on the Quiz Show).


In the groups, facilitated by “David” as director (he has the fewest lines in the mock trial) have each group share their homework: the completed Character Analysis forms (PDF), and discuss their plans for the portrayal of each character Discuss rationale and give examples.


The director leads his team as they set up the blocking and courtroom scene in their area of the classroom. (Put the PowerPoint diagram of the courtroom up on the screen). The producer (Bailiff) can check with the group to see that the Judge, Plaintiff, Plaintiff/Prosecuting Attorney, Defendant, Defense Attorney, and Witnesses all have their correct “name-signs” visible. (This is to reinforce the correct vocabulary).

Each group of eight performs the mock trial in different areas of the room


Student oral reflection and drawing conclusions: Pair/Share: If I were to perform this role again, I would be sure to change [blank]. I found [blank] to be effective in the way we developed the characters in the mock trial as a team.

Have some share their conclusions regarding their performance of the trial with the whole group. Tell them not to forget the details of this trial, as the jury needs to meet very soon! (You may want to have students “perform” the trial a few times in ELA block, maybe portraying different characters)

Special Needs of Students Are Considered in This Lesson

Differentiation can be addressed in the assignment of the roles. Large and small group instruction and careful grouping assignments will be useful for ELL and also GATE students.

Extension Ideas

Have students make a video of the mock trials, and each group further evaluate their portrayal of the roles.


  • Common Core State Standards
  • California VAPA/theatre standards