Using interesting and interactive methods of teaching has been a staple of Salem City Schools for years. Recently, Miss Sarah Hamilton’s class went above and beyond when learning about the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart,” written by Edgar Allen Poe. A mock trial was held involving a prosecution, a defense team, a full jury, and even a bailiff.
After reading the story in class, students prepared and gave opening statements from the defense and prosecution while “Judge” Hamilton presided over the “courtroom”. The prosecution reiterated the admittance of guilt by the defendant, while the defense argued for an insanity plea. Witnesses were called to the stand, including the arresting officer and the psychiatrist who diagnosed the defendant. After both sides rested, the jury went into deliberation and came back with a verdict of “guilty” for the narrator.
Using the mock trial as a learning opportunity helped the students dive deeper into the text and think about the motive of the narrator. Students had to understand the complexities of the story to better their case and secure a win for their side. By applying methods outside of conventional teaching, Miss Hamilton’s class now has a better understanding of a great story, written by one of America’s greatest writers.
We were in the “courtroom” that day and took pictures of the proceedings. There is an album of those pictures on our Facebook page, check them out to see the whole case.