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Home Courts Educational Resources Lesson Plans
Lesson Plans

The following are a series of lesson plans developed in conjunction with the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Courts in the Community program. Courts in the Community is the educational outreach program started on Law Day in 1986 by the Colorado Supreme Court. The program gives high school students hands-on experience in how the Colorado judicial system works and illustrates how disputes are resolved in a democratic society. The courts travel to high schools in Colorado to hear two oral arguments at each location.

The following 16 lesson plans cover a variety of topics introducing high school students to multiple aspects of the Colorado judicial system. Each is complete with a personalized introduction on the topic by one of our Supreme Court justices or Court of Appeals judges. The plans include components such as background information for the teacher, lecture outlines, transparency masters, classroom work sheets, homework assignments and classroom activities.

Courts in the Community Lesson Plans

Rule of Law
Provide students with background information on the origins of the rule of law and facilitate a discussion on its impact on government today. Activities: Teacher lecture (background material and lecture outline provided); class participation activity; and homework assignment. Outcome: Develop awareness in students as to the origins of the rule of law, the impact it has in their everyday lives and the role it plays in the judicial system.

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The Manner in which a Democratic Society Resolves Disputes
Provide students with background information on the role and structure of the courts, including the trial and appellate process. Activities: Teacher lecture (background information and lecture outline provided); class participation activity; and homework assignment. Outcomes: Become familiar with the different levels of courts and how various cases might be heard and resolved.

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The Journey of a Court Case
Learn what happens to cases as they travel within a court and between courts. Activities: Class participation activity; homework assignment. Outcomes: Students know how a court case goes through the system.

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How the Appellate Process Works
Understand what happens to a case when it leaves the trial courts. Activities: Teacher lecture (background information and lecture outline provided); class participation activity. Outcomes: Students understand the appellate process and how a case is appealed.

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Implications and Impact of Appellate Decisions
Students will know and understand the role of law in Colorado and in the United States Activities: Teacher lecture (background material and lecture outline provided); class participation activity; and homework assignment. Outcomes: Students understand how court decisions affect the law and how those effects can impact them.

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How to Objectively Examine a Case
Demonstrate ability to think objectively; dissect court cases or scenarios to find pertinent issues; consider a public policy issue and the exercising of rights and limitations Activities: Class discussion; homework assignment. Outcomes: Develop the skills to examine and analyze court cases.

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How to Argue a Case
Understand the procedure for oral arguments; prepare for the actual oral arguments. Activities: Teacher lectures (background information and lecture outline provided); class participation activity; and homework assignment. Outcomes: Students will understand how lawyers prepare for and use their argument time.

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The Colorado Jury System
Provide students with a basic understanding of the jury selection process in Colorado, and the rights and responsibilities of individuals who are summoned to jury duty. Activities: Teacher lecture (background materials and lecture outline provided); class participation activity; homework assignment and master for overhead transparency "Anatomy of a Colorado Jury Trial." Outcomes: Make students aware of the essential role the jury plays in the American system of justice and the circumstances under which they could be called to be part of that system.

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How the Colorado Judicial Branch Works
Resources for students to develop an understanding of the structure and function of their local, district, and state judicial system. Activities: Teacher lecture (background material, lecture outline, and overhead slide provided); class participation activity (worksheet/answers provided); and homework assignment. Outcomes: Students acquire a foundational understanding of the Colorado judicial system upon which more detailed knowledge of this system can be built.

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What it takes to become a judge
Students learn how power, authority, and responsibility are distributed, shared, and limited in the Colorado judicial system. Activities: Teacher lecture (background material and lecture outline provided); class participation activity; and homework assignment. Outcomes: Students develop an understanding of how judges became judges, what criteria qualified them for the job, and what attributes they must have to maintain their positions.

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The Roles and Responsibilities of Appellate Judges
Understand the functions and duties of judges and justices on an appellate level. Activities: Teacher lecture (background information and lecture outline provided); class participation activity. Outcomes: Students will develop an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of appellate judges and will become aware of Colorado's own high court judges.

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Who are Colorado's High Court Justices?
Students become familiar with Supreme Court justices, who are state officials. Activities: Class participation activity and homework assignment. Outcomes: Students will be familiar with the justices who will be presiding over the hearings at their school.

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Who are Colorado's Court of Appeals Judges?
Students become familiar with Court of Appeals judges, who are state officials. Activities: Class participation activity and homework assignment. Outcomes: Students will be familiar with the judges who will be presiding over the hearings at their school.

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The History of the Courts
Students understand how democratic ideas and institutions (courts) in the United States (Colorado) have developed, changed, and been maintained. Activities: Teacher lecture (background material, lecture outline, and timeline provided); class discussion (questions and topics suggested); and homework assignment Outcomes: Students learn about the history of Colorado's courts, helping them to understand how the system started and how it has evolved into the system that exists today.

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Courtroom Etiquette
Learn about appropriate behavior in a courtroom; prepare for the setting of the oral arguments. Activities: Teacher lecture (background information and lecture outline provided); class discussion; and homework assignment. Outcomes: Students know the appropriate etiquette for viewing oral arguments or visiting courtrooms.

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Colorado Constitution Day Resources
This information includes lesson plans for different age levels revolving around the U.S. and Colorado Constitutions.

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