Jack Goes on Trial: Is he a hero or a criminal?

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SWBAT state and support their opinion of Jack using textual evidence after reading "Jack and the Beanstalk."

Big Idea

Stole the gold. Trespassed on private property. Killed a giant. Hero or Criminal? You decide.


10 minutes

Before beginning the process of Jack's trial, I tried to gauge my students' feelings about Jack by asking,

Is Jack more of a hero or a criminal?  Why?

Although more students in each class think Jack is a criminal, I decided to let the students choose their side rather than having even teams.  In the past when I've done this lesson, I have chosen sides, but this year, with all of the work we've been doing with argument, I feel that the students will put more effort into the activity if they have a choice.  I am expecting the trial to feel more authentic and hoping every student will want to participate eagerly!  

Here are several examples that I received from students.

Jack is a criminal.

Jack is a hero.

Taking Sides

10 minutes

I will ask the students that think Jack is a criminal to move to one side of the room, and students who feel that Jack is innocent to move to the other.  I know from my students' previous answers that there are twice as many people who think that Jack is a criminal.  I'll ask that group to split into two or three smaller groups, and the hero group can work together or split into two smaller groups.

Now, I'll have student brainstorm a big list of reasons to support their opinion.  They'll need to reference the story to make sure they have examined all possibilities.  

Here is where I will need to do some facilitating, especially with my big group.  I will help the students decide on some key reasons.  For example, Jack is a criminal because he stole from the ogre.  

Then, the student will divide up into groups of two to four and begin developing their arguments.  The idea is that each group of two to four would present a different aspect of the case.  One group might be explaining how Jack is heroic because he provided for his mom while another group argues that killing the giant prevented many little boys from dying at the giant's hand.  

Although the groups are independent, they are working toward the same goal and will need to collaborate with each other.  It is completely fine with me if some of their ideas and arguments overlap, but I do want each group to feel like they are bringing something unique to the trial.  


Making a Case

20 minutes

At this point, I will choose one student to represent Jack during the trial and one to play the ogre mum. I'll take volunteers and then choose at random from those who want to do it.    During this phase of the lesson, Jack and Mrs. Ogre will comb through the text noting everything that their character said or did during the story.  The need to be prepared to answer questions and stick to the text!

I plan on using this 3 x 3 argumentative writing frame graphic organizer to help students plan out their case.  It was given to me at a district CORE Six training, and it seems perfect for this activity.  

Each group will state their argument, provide reasons, elaborate and give evidence, and finally wrap up the argument.  I like the simple format of this organizer, but I will still need to model it with my students because it's new.

I'll use the claim "Jack is athletic" to model the process.  I'll list my specific reasons why I think he is athletic in the second column.

He is a fast runner.

He is nimble.

He is strong.

Then, in the third column, I'll pull specific examples from the text to support these reasons.  For example, I know he is fast because he outran the giant.  He was nimble enough to climb the beanstalk and jump over numerous items in the giants home.  Jack showed his strength when climbing down the bean stalk carrying gold, or the hen, or a magical harp.  

When students have developed a strong case, I'll have them think of questions to ask Jack and the ogre's mum during the trial.  Preparing the questions ahead of times helps everyone stick to the text!

Student Example

And one more

Students developing their case