Published April 3, 2018
What do Trayvon Martin, O.J. Simpson and Lizzie Borden have in common? The courtroom cases centered around these three individuals were used in a ninth-grade classroom to provide a real-life lesson on the workings of our justice system. GSE student teachers are encouraged to use creative teaching methods in their classrooms.
“Many of the courses in our teacher education program incorporate creative teaching techniques,” said Judith Roberson, coordinator of field experiences for GSE's Teacher Education Institute. “Creativity is so important because it leads to higher student engagement which leads to more effective student learning.”
Taloria Gamble, an English education master’s degree student in the teacher education program, was using the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” in her ninth-grade classroom during her student teaching experience. When discussing the Tom Robinson trial from the book, she found students couldn’t relate to the verdict.
“To help students understand the guilty verdict, I had them decide the final verdict in real-life trials,” said Gamble. “I divided the class into three groups and had each group evaluate the evidence in one of the trials, but the students didn’t know they were evaluating the Martin, Simpson and Borden cases.”
This creative teaching method was a success. “The students were surprised to learn that while evidence in each trial favored a particular verdict, which they agreed with,” said Gamble, “the final verdict was the exact opposite.” “By having students become part of the process, they formed a deeper understanding of a concept they learned about in a book.”