Civics 101 – Life Stages: Death

Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how the U.S. government works. Each episode explores topics through interviews with experts and teachers. The Read More

ProCon.org’s State Laws & State Data On…

Many ProCon.org’s websites feature state laws and state-specific research on the issues they cover. Find links to state laws and related state resources here. Be Read More

Hate Speech & Campus Speech Codes

By David L. Hudson Jr., First Amendment Center This article looks at some of the speech codes implemented by public colleges and universities in order to combat discrimination, Read More

Legal Stuff Booklets

Produced by the Hennepin County Bar Association, Legal Stuff,  is a 48-page booklet of practical legal information about the laws that impact the daily life of Minnesota residents.  The booklet Read More

Everything you need to know about omnibus bills, and why they’re so popular at the Minnesota Legislature

By Briana Bierschbach, MinnPost What, exactly, is an omnibus bill? How does Minnesota handle omnibus bills? Other states? Terms explained: Omnibus, Christmas Tree Bills or Read More

State Legislatures (HS)

From iCivics “Students are introduced to the basic structure and function of state legislatures, as well as the variety in those structures. They will also Read More

Understanding Legislation: How to Read a Bill

From Minnesota Senate Media Services This video clip (approximately 7 minutes) contains tips for reading and understanding a bill that is before the Minnesota Legislature. Read More

Voting Matters To Me

Minnesota Election Vocabulary

At quizlet.com Use this learning tool to play around with flashcards, matching games, multiple choice tests. Minnesota Election Vocabulary: http://quizlet.com/45297243/minnesota-election-vocabulary-flash-cards/alphabetical

LegalWays: Investigation and Arrest

This lesson from the LegalWays curriculum focuses on the most common questions regarding investigation and arrest including police stops, searches, probable cause, arrest, and the constitutional rights of the accused. Activities include a student reading with guiding questions, a “Police Role-play” activity that provides the students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and for them to review and reflect with a police officer, and a final case study that asks students to apply their knowledge about interrogation and Miranda rights in a slightly different setting, the principal’s office in a school. This lesson uses basic information and does not include the many small exceptions and interpretations that exist in the law. Where appropriate, Minnesota law has been used. Lessons can be adapted to other states. Remind students they should not attempt to answer specific individual legal problems with the information provided.

LegalWays: Steps in a Criminal Case

This lesson from the LegalWays curriculum focuses on the procedure followed in a criminal case. In the activity “Creating a Flow Chart” the students can work individually or in small groups. It requires that the students use their knowledge from “Investigation and Arrest” and “Your Right to an Attorney” in addition to the information in this lesson. By asking them to add pieces of information they think are important, the students reflect on their learning. This lesson is designed for the computer. However, it can be accomplished with posterboard and markers. The “Mini-Mock Trial” concerns a stolen wallet and is a two-hour activity. This activity benefits greatly by having a lawyer or judge serve as the judge for the mock trial. (If there are enough students, one can assist the judge, serving as a co-judge.) Although this lesson uses Minnesota law and procedure, it is adaptable.

Introduction to the Juvenile Justice System

These materials teach middle school students about the Minnesota Juvenile Justice System. Informational powerpoint is followed by chart that compares the adult with the juvenile Read More

Minnesota v. Hershberger: Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion has been a controversial, yet fundamental, tenet of the United States since even before the nation’s birth. In a instructional activity, the Read More

Minnesota Juvenile Justice Jeopardy Game for Elementary Classroom

Author: adapted for elementary students from Jeopardy created by Rebecca Swinney, University of Minnesota Law Student, Street Law Course, 2010 This Power Point slide show works Read More

Minnesota State Symbols Game

Identify the correct Minnesota state symbols in this Internet trivia game. A brief historical explanation follows each selection.

Voter ID, Voting Requirements, and Vote Counting

A collection of lesson plans from the American Bar Association that teach voting requirements, voter ID laws, and vote counting laws.

American Indian Sovereignty Curriculum

Students learn that American Indians have systems of tribal government that have powers, rights and responsibilities based on tribal constitutions agreed to by the people.

Judicial Fairness – Playground Bullies

Through a role-playing activity, students learn about judicial fairness and bias.

Introduction to the Minnesota Judiciary

This introduction to the judiciary in Minnesota includes a handout of background information for students to study and a handout of questions to stimulate discussion and increase their understanding of the materials.

How a Bill Becomes Law in Minnesota

Reference material explaining the steps between a bill and a law from a specific Minnesota perspective. Includes the story of Minnesota teen Joe Gibson’s process in changing the law to allow 16 year-olds to donate blood with parental permission.

Deliberating in a Democracy Judicial Elections

By Jennifer Bloom and Kate McBride Engage students in a Structured Academic Controversy in this lesson that focuses on developing deliberation skills using a proposed Read More

Deliberating in a Democracy Voter Identification

Engage students in a Structured Academic Controversy in this lesson that focuses on developing deliberation skills using a proposed Minnesota Law that would require all Minnesota voters to have photo identification.

Deliberating in a Democracy Ethanol

Engage students in a Structured Academic Controversy in this lesson that focuses on developing deliberation skills using the issue of ethanol (a critical question for Minnesota and the nation and world).

Deliberating in a Democracy Farm Subsidies

This lesson from Deliberating in a Democracy Minnesota (DIDMN) project teaches deliberation skills that ensure that conflicting views can be heard, understood, and valued, and students will develop the ability to find solutions to important issues. Lesson includes a student reading on farm subsidies which is used by small groups as they increase their understanding of the issue.

LegalWays: Juvenile Certification

In this lesson from the LegalWays curriculum, certification(the process of moving a juvenile from juvenile court to adult court) is described, including presumptive and non-presumptive certification. The activity “You Decide” asks students to decide whether cases would be presumptive or non-presumptive and to identify the factors that would be considered in the certification process. The “Case Study” asks them to determine whether a juvenile should be certified and to explain the reasons for the decision. In the final “You Decide” activity the students analyze four cases and decide if the juvenile stays in juvenile court, becomes an EJJ, or is certified to adult court. The students are asked to provide their reasons. This activity requires that the other lessons in the unit be completed first. Although the lesson is based on Minnesota law and procedure, most states have similar processes. The lesson can be adapted to the law of other states.

LegalWays: Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile

This lesson from the LegalWays curriculum describes a process provided by Minnesota law that has the juvenile in both the juvenile system and adult system. It has been described as “a foot in each system.” How a juvenile becomes EJJ, what the court looks as in making its decision, and what happens if the juvenile does not complete the juvenile sentence are the topics of the lesson. The Questions guide the student through the information and the “You Decide” activities ask the students to apply what they have learned.

LegalWays: Juvenile Delinquency Process

In this lesson from the LegalWays curriculum the Steps in a Juvenile Delinquency case are described. This lesson enhances the lesson on the Juvenile Court in The Legal System unit. The student reading with guided questions and the “Ordering” activity help the students learn the procedure. The steps in the procedure can also be used in a “Human Continuum” activity. This lesson uses Minnesota law but can be adapted for other states.

LegalWays: Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency

This lesson asks the students to think about the history and purpose of the juvenile system and to decide how they feel about specific issues currently facing the juvenile justice system. Lesson begins with a “What do you think?” activity. The “Juvenile Justice Poll” can be used with groups outside of the class and the answers can be tabulated and the results shared.

LegalWays: Termination of Parental Rights

The reasons the court will use in terminating a parent’s rights are described and the steps are laid out in this lesson from the LegalWays curriculum. The “Case Study” presents a story of a baby and her mom and asks the students to decide if parental rights should be terminated and identify alternative steps that might be taken. Additional cases are considered in the “Mock Appellate Argument” activity. To conclude the lesson, the students are engaged in a “Mock Legislative Hearing” concerning a bill making it easier to terminate parental rights.

LegalWays: Child Abuse and Neglect

This lesson from LegalWays curriculum defines types of abuse, neglect, and endangerment and discusses mandated reporters and what happens when a report is made. Students use guiding questions and a matching activity to apply the law presented in a short student reading. The “You Decide” activity asks them to decide if a situation is neglect, endangerment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or an accident. Many of the cases are actual stories. This lesson uses Minnesota law but can be easily adapted.

LegalWays: Domestic Abuse and Order for Protection

This lesson from LegalWays describes domestic abuse and what can be done when a person is the victim of abuse. The procedure for getting an Order for Protection is included. The “Case Study” activity asks the students to apply their new knowledge to a hypothetical case. As a culminating activity, the students will apply their knowledge and learn more about the court system in the Mock Trial, which involves domestic abuse between a girlfriend and boyfriend. Lesson includes a student reading with guiding questions using Minnesota law. Lesson can be adapted.

LegalWays: Child Protection

In this lesson from LegalWays curriculum, Child Protection is explained, both the process and the people. The lesson also suggests what a parent involved in a child protection matter should do. Students use guiding questions to review the student reading. The two case studies ask the students to play the role of child protection worker and respond to the case, making recommendations and developing the case plan. They are also asked to take the perspective of a mother whose child is now under the services of child protection. This lesson applies Minnesota law but can be easily adapted.

LegalWays: Runaways

This lesson from the LegalWays curriculum helps the students understand what will happen to them if they run away. The “Matching” activity asks them to match the terms with the definitions. The “Role-Play” activity has the students giving advice to young people contemplating running away. Although this activity reflects the procedures used in MInnesota, they are similar to procedures in other states and the student reading and guiding questions are easily adaptable.

LegalWays: Living Away From Home

This lesson from the LegalWays curriculum focuses on emancipation, which is a difficult area to understand because there is no specific Minnesota statute that lists the requirements and the procedure to become emancipated. This lesson describes emancipation and how it occurs using a student reading with guiding questions. In some states, the law provides specific procedure for emancipation.

LegalWays: Children in Foster Homes

Because of the importance of foster care in the lives of many young people, this lesson from the LegalWays curriculum looks at foster care from the perspective of a child in foster care, including a description of the specific rights that youth in foster care have. The Case Plan activity asks the students to analyze three cases looking at the reasons for the foster care, the attempts to correct the problems, the services that might help, and what needs to be done to return the child home. Lesson includes a student reading about the law including guiding questions. Although the lesson uses Minnesota law, it can be adapted.

LegalWays: Visitation and Child Support

By Jennifer Bloom and Sally Revak This lesson from the LegalWays curriculum describes the rights, the people involved, and the way visitation can be changed, Read More

LegalWays: Paternity and Child Custody

This lesson from the LegalWays curriculum focuses on paternity, which is an important issue in the lives of teen parents. The reading about the law with the guiding questions and the Yes or No You Decide activity are designed to help the students understand the content of the law. The “Each One Teach One” is an effective way to teach and review the substance of the law in an interactive way. Although the reading reflects Minnesota law, the reading can be adapted easily.

LegalWays: Parenting

In this lesson from the LegalWays curriculum, students are encouraged to think about the rights and responsibilities of parenting. The responsibility to keep children safe is emphasized. Lesson includes a short student reading with guiding questions. The “What do you think?” activity requires that the students understand the rights and responsibilities that they would have as teen parents toward their children and the rights and responsibilities that their parents have over them. “Your Turn” asks students to brainstorm conflicts between parents and children and then craft solutions that would be acceptable to both sides. “Your Turn” could also be used in mediation simulation. Although the lesson reflects Minnesota law, adaptions could be easily made.

LegalWays: Juvenile Protection and Services

This lesson presents the steps in juvenile protection and services cases. Materials include a student reading with related ordering activity. Lesson is targeted at young people at risk of being in the juvenile protection system. This activity uses Minnesota law but can be adapted for your state law.

LegalWays: Conciliation Court

By Jennifer Bloom and Sally Revak From Unit 1 of LegalWays, a curriculum designed to teach a variety of legal topics of interest to young Read More

LegalWays: Your Right to an Attorney

By Jennifer Bloom and Sally Revak From Unit 1 of LegalWays, a curriculum designed to teach a variety of legal topics of interest to young Read More

LegalWays: Juvenile Court

By Jennifer Bloom and Sally Revak, Learning Law and Democracy Foundation From Unit 1 of LegalWays, a curriculum designed to teach a variety of legal Read More

LegalWays: Sources of Law and the Courts

By Jennifer Bloom and Sally Revak, Learning Law and Democracy Foundation From Unit 1 of LegalWays, a curriculum designed to teach a variety of legal Read More

People in the Court

This lesson introduces students to the various people who appear in courtrooms including parties to the court action, court employees, and the public. In small groups, students analyze the interests and concerns of each person using a worksheet. Students are also introduced to the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the 6th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 6 of the Minnesota Constitution.

Juvenile Justice Introduction

This lesson aims to introduce students to the history of juvenile law in the United States, the differences between Juvenile and Criminal Law, and the different ways in which courts treat juvenile delinquency cases. The second day focuses on the Minnesota Juvenile Justice system. The lessons uses case studies of actual cases and student written reflections.

Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Legislators and Judges are Different

Students will learn that judges and legislators have different roles to play in our system of government by analyzing a case study that describes the development and application of the Minnesota Move Over traffic law, which requires that drivers move over a lane when approaching a squad car involved in a traffic stop. Students will storyboard the steps taken as the law moves from the legislature through the three levels of the court system and then back to the legislature. Lesson includes a student reading and comparison chart.

Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Impartiality and Elections

Abstract: Students will learn about judicial elections and impartiality through case studies on the exercise of First Amendment rights in judicial elections, limitations on corporate contributions, and procedures to protect impartiality. Strategies used include jigsaw of case studies and deliberation on proposed change to the Minnesota Constitution regarding judicial elections.

Cameras in the Courtroom-Lesson Example

In this lesson, students will examine the constitutional conflicts of allowing or disallowing cameras in courtrooms. The importance of this issue will be emphasized through a discussion about media literacy. Students will participate in a “Shuttle Debate,” where they will argue whether the state of Minnesota, which currently does not allow cameras in courtrooms, should change its policy.