1st Edition

Judging for Themselves Using Mock Trials to Bring Social Studies and English to Life

By David Sherrin Copyright 2016
    152 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    152 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    152 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Eye On Education

    Learn how to use mock trials to bring history and literature to life! When students take on the roles of lawyers and witnesses in historical or literary trials, they develop greater investment in the topics, they learn rigorous close-reading and questioning techniques, and they are able to deeply explore and reflect upon themes of justice and responsibility. In this new book from award-winning teacher David Sherrin, you’ll find out how this lively instructional strategy will make learning a more immersive, engaging, and memorable experience for your middle school and high school students. The book includes:

    • a clear how-to guide to get the most out of mock trials in your class;
    • ready-made units and lessons to get you started right away, complete with sample scripts, primary source documents, scaffolding worksheets, and assessment rubrics;
    • templates and step-by-step instructions to help you design your own mock trials.

    The pre-made units, which Sherrin spent years refining in his classroom, cover historical topics such as the Nuremberg Trials and the inquisitions of Martin Luther and Galileo. You’ll also find fun and interactive mock trials based on the literary works The Pearl and To Kill a Mockingbird. These lessons will help students at all ability levels to become better readers, public speakers, and critical thinkers.

    For even more engaging lessons, try out Sherrin’s companion book on role-plays, The Classes They Remember: Using Role-Plays to Bring Social Studies and English to Life.

    Companion Website

    Meet the Author


    Introduction: A Day in Court

    Part 1: A Mock Trial How-To Guide

    1 Creating Mock Trials

    2 Executing Mock Trials


    Part 2: Examples of Historical Mock Trials

    3 Julius Streicher: A Nuremberg Trial

    4 Galileo and Martin Luther Inquisition Trials

    Part 3: Examples of Literary Mock Trials

    5 To Kill a Mockingbird Trial

    6 Imaginary Literary Trials





    David Sherrin is an English and Social Studies teacher at Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City, where he is also the Social Studies Department Chair and the Master Teacher. At the 2014 NCSS Annual Conference, he was the recipient of the 2014 Robert H. Jackson Center National Award for Teaching Justice.

    "The ready-made mock trials provided in this book will surely create a memorable class for both students and teachers! David Sherrin offers realistic materials that will bring a classroom to life and ignite excitement in any learner." --Jessica Bennett, 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher and Author of Common Core in the Content Areas: Balancing Content and Literacy

    "In Judging for Themselves, Sherrin has created a rich and immeasurably valuable tool to help teachers engage and challenge all learners in the deep, critical thinking necessary to develop 21st century skills. The use of mock trials in our secondary social studies and English language arts classes will provide our students with authentically engaging ways in which to interact with history and literature.  I cannot wait to place this resource into the hands of my teachers.”  --Susan Jaroscak, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Maple Heights City Schools, Ohio

    “Using mock trials to teach students to explore concepts like ethics, justice, and human rights is brilliant. Judging for Themselves provides teachers with complex, intense cases from history and literature to help students appreciate the complexities of real-life situations. What a powerful way to have students look incisively at behavior and outcomes and to inspire civic responsibility!” –Kim D. O’Neil, President, National Council for the Social Studies, 2015-2016