Presentation on theme: "PARCC Literacy Strategies"— Presentation transcript:
1 PARCC Literacy Strategies Teaching Students to Read and Analyze Court Opinions
2 Start with why…Training for teachers on reading and analyzing court opinions is scarceThe perceived entry barriers are highLegal languageLack of context“Closed door” nature of proceedings
3 Start With Why… Several standards directly reference “Court Opinions” RSIT : Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
4 Start With Why… Several standards directly reference “Court Opinions” RSIT : Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of Constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
5 Start With Why… Several standards directly reference “Court Opinions” RSIT : Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.Part B of the standard refers back to RSIT
6 Start With Why… Several standards directly reference “Court Opinions” AmGov 7: Constitutional government in the United States has changed over time as a result of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, legislation, and informal practices
7 Start with why…These standards are merely a sample of direct references.Many other standards apply to the practices of reading a court opinion, but do not overtly reference them.
8 Start with why…Reading and writing tasks based on court opinions make for great opportunities to practice A LOT of standardsThis also makes them very appealing to test writers!
9 Start with why…By their nature, reading and interpreting a court opinion requires students to:Cite evidence to support what a text says explicitly or inferentially (RSIT 1)Determine the main idea or question posed (RSIT 2)Analyze the relationships and interactions of people, events, and ideas across a text (or multiple texts). (RSIT 3)
10 Start with why…By their nature, reading and interpreting a court opinion requires students to:Determine the meaning of words and phrases as used in a text (RSIT 4)Analyze the structure of a text (RSIT 5)Determine an author’s point of view (RSIT 6)Compare and contrast a text to a variety of different media (RSIT 7)Easy if listening to oral arguments
11 Start with why…By their nature, reading and interpreting a court opinion requires students to:Consider the sufficiency of evidence to make a claim (RSIT 8)Analyze how two or more authors write different about a topic and interpret evidence and ideas differently (RSIT 9)Reading complex texts (RSIT 10)Texts mainly fall in the “stretch” Lexile band
12 Current Practice?How many teachers are currently incorporating court opinions into their classrooms?Which subjects?
13 Samples from PARCCPearson released a full length sample ELA assessment this year for 10th grade.The PBA for non-fiction texts was based on Tinker v. Des Moines a U.S. Supreme Court Opinion involving students protesting the war in Vietnam.Given the secretive nature of the assessments, we do not know if a Court opinion was on any of the exams given in NY
14 What is the Supreme Court Anyway? Although not essential to the PBA on the exam, basic background knowledge helps familiarize students with the content prior to exposure on test day!
15 The Role of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States is an appellate court, meaning cases that they decide have already been decided but are now being appealed to the Court because one or both parties was unhappy with the result
16 The Role of the Supreme Court There are very limited circumstances in which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction (meaning they hear a case for the first time)These circumstances are outlined in 28 U.S.C. §1251
17 The Role of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court is a “court of last resort,” meaning their decisions are final. There is no higher court you can appeal to.Except… if you are really unhappy with their decision, you can lobby the legislature to change the law. The court interprets law, but does not make law.
18 How does a case get to the Court? Like all federal courts, the Supreme Court is limited to hearing actual “cases and controversies.”This means the Court cannot simply be asked their opinion on an issueIn order for a case to come before the Court, there must be a plaintiff (or prosecutor) and defendant.
19 Case or controversy?To get around this requirement, many legal advocacy groups employ the strategy of “test cases,” in order to challenge the Constitutionality of a lawTest cases involve a legal group soliciting potential plaintiffs, who are interviewed and considered based on whether or not they would be the best party to challenge an issue
20 Case or controversy?Once the plaintiffs are chosen, they then need to experience some perceived “harm” which can be challenged in court.An example of this is the Perry v. Brown case, which overturned California’s Proposition 8 (banning same-sex marriage).The attorneys interviewed potential plaintiffs, chose 4, had them go to their respective counties to apply for marriage licenses (knowing they would be denied) then sued the state for the denial.
21 Discretionary ReviewThe Supreme Court is not required to accept a case for review (with some limited exceptions).Of the more than 7,000 petitions for review the Court receives each year, less than 1% are accepted and heard by the Court.If the Court declines to hear a case, the lower ruling stands, and the appellant has no further recourse.
22 Constitutional Issues Most (but not all) Supreme Court cases involve some aspect of U.S. Constitutional law.Sometimes the Court is asked to interpret a statute similar to other statutes around the country (especially when there’s a “circuit split.”Most of the cases likely to show up on PARCC will be Constitutional cases, most involving the Bill of Rights.
23 Products of the TimeSupreme Court cases, and to a certain extent all court opinions, are products of the time in which they are brought and decided.The Court has often used the phrase that they are “reluctant to get ahead of the nation” on certain issues
24 Products of the Time For example… By the time Loving v. Virginia was decided, only 16 states still had anti-miscegenation laws.When Brown v. Board was decided, only 17 states required public segregation, with 16 states actively banning it and the remaining states having no specific law either way.The Court hesitated to accept broad reaching same-sex marriage cases until this year, at a moment when 35 states have legalized same-sex marriage.
25 Products of the TimeOther political factors sometimes play into the Court’s decisionIn Brown v. Board, the United States was experiencing political backlash from the international community for continued segregation after a UNESCO Declaration in 1950 called The Race Dilemma was signed. This came at the height of the Cold War, when the U.S. was especially wary of international public opinion.
26 Breaking Down an Opinion Teaching students to read court opinions breaks down into two main componentsTeaching them the format of a case (will vary based on level of case)Teaching them the strategies for identifying/analyzing components
27 FormatCourt opinions are in a very specific format, which students need to know about in order to be able to read themThe PARCC authors are unlikely to ask questions about a lot of the format components, but for students unfamiliar with the format they can trip them up!Pearson is likely to excerpt and reformat the case, so not all of these elements will be on the PARCC exam
29 SyllabusMOST Supreme Court cases include a case syllabus in the beginningThis syllabus is a quick summary of the legal issues involved in the case, some background information on the case, and the decision of the court.Although Pearson is unlikely to include this on the PARCC exam, it can be a useful place for you to find information to set up context for your students.
33 Question PresentedFor the PARCC sample, Pearson excerpted the entire beginning, leaving us with part II where the court addresses the legal arguments in the case.
34 Citation FormatCourt opinions have a very specific way of citing their sources. Students need to know how to navigate these.
35 Question PresentedAlthough it is unlikely PARCC will provide the Court Syllabus, they will need to include text from the opinion somewhere that explicitly states what the Court is trying to decide.RSIT 2 – Determine main idea or question posed.
36 Who agrees?In order for something to be the “opinion of the Court” at least 5 of the Justices have to agree.Sometimes there is a very complicated structure of concurrences that creates a “plurality” rather than a majority, but PARCC is unlikely to use such an example and wouldn’t ask questions about this if they did.
37 Who agrees?Opinions often have many parts, which are always numbered with roman numeralsUsually the sectioning is used to distinguish between different aspects of a case (e.g. when there is more than one issue)Other times, the parts are used to separate where the Justices have differences of opinion.
38 Who agrees?In the example below from the Hobby Lobby case, the Justices have a slightly complicated mix of agreement and disagreement
40 HoldingThe excerpt in the PARCC sample does not fully articulate the holding, but does conclude the question asked.
41 Why does this matter?Remember, PARCC will most likely never ask about any of these formatting issues.BUT… if students are unfamiliar with the format, they are likely to be caught up by these issues and distracted from the true questions.
42 IRAC analysisThe simplest way to summarize a case is to follow a method known as IRACIssueRuleApplicationConclusion
43 Issue The issue is the same thing as the “question presented” Essentially: what is the court being asked to decide.The Opinion almost always states this very clearly!The issue will usually be best articulated as a question.
44 IssueExamplesAre a student’s First Amendment rights violated when a school official stops them from participating in a silent protest?Are teachers agents of the police when they are talking with a student about suspected abuse?Can a school principal search an 18 year old student’s backpack if they suspect they are in possession of tobacco products?
45 Rule This tells what the law is that will answer the question. In the case, it is likely that the law won’t clearly address the specifics of the case.Remember, if the law was clear in a case, the Supreme Court wouldn’t be hearing the appeal!The Rule is almost never a straight citation of a law (e.g. 28 U.S.C. §1251) but will instead be a citation from a prior case that dealt with the issue.
46 RulesExamples:“Where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would ‘materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school,’ the prohibition cannot be sustained.” (from Tinker v. Des Moines)
47 ApplicationHow does the Court take the Rule and apply it to the scenario in the caseThis is where most of the citations to other cases will come in, as the Court considers whether the situation is analogousE.g. currently the Court is grappling with whether or not smart phones should be viewed as telephones or computers for the purposes of a search.
48 Application In the Tinker case The administrators had no evidence that the black armbands would cause any material disturbance to school discipline. They provided only evidence of fear that the armbands could cause a disruption.
49 Conclusion This is essentially the same thing as the holding. How does the Court resolve the Issue after applying the rule?
50 Conclusion In the Tinker case Failing to show anything more than a base fear of possible discomfort in response to the conduct, the school did not have the ability to abridge the students’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
51 Assessing the TaskThe EQuIP Student Work Protocol produced by Achieve is a great way to evaluate lessons and assessment tasksAlthough the stated goal of the framework is to check alignment and make suggestions, using the framework also gives the evaluator a good handle on what the task actually asks of studentsWe can use EQuIP to reverse engineer lessons that would prepare students for specific tasks they will see on the PARCC exam.
59 Break Down the TaskUsing the paper version of the test handed out, we are going to break down the task, and walk through the assessment.When doing this with our students, we want to model the following:Close reading techniquesText annotation (possible digitally as well)Metacognition
61 Classroom Applications Students will likely need practice doing this more than once before they see it on the examTest writers recommend that something similar to this kind of performance task is happening at least twice per unit.
63 Other cases?When selecting texts for the PARCC exam, Pearson likely looks at the following:Landmark case (implicating Bill of Rights)No controversy (no abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.)Parallel structure of arguments (majority and dissenting opinions roughly overlap)Low legal complexityEasy to excerpt
64 Other Cases? Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Similar to Tinker, Court ruled that a school district could limit the content of school newspapers only if the censorship is reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns
65 Other Cases? Miranda v. Arizona New Jersey v. TLO Landmark case that created the famous “Miranda Warning” that arresting officers must read to inform arrestees of their Constitutional rights when they are taken into custody.New Jersey v. TLOCase involving school searches of student backpacks.
66 Other Cases? Texas v. Johnson Case upholding the right of an individual to protest through the burning of an American flag. The Court was hotly divided in the case, finding by a 5-4 vote that no matter how offensive the speech is, symbolic speech is protected under the First Amendment.
67 Pairing TextsMany of the standards call for students to compare and contrast texts, especially when comparing two different types of media on the same subject.Court opinion + Oral argumentsOral arguments + Newspaper articleCourt opinion + NPR interview (Nina Totenberg)
68 Pairing TextsWhen pairing texts, give thought to the level of complexity of each textPARCC recommends that the texts be of different complexity levels to assess different skills.Look especially for texts that expose students to a concept that is reintroduced and expanded in the second text
69 Exposure to Words and Concepts PARCC writers are especially interested in seeing if students can apply meaning across texts and discuss how the meaning expandsE.g., Tinker introduces the “substantial disruption” standard. Later cases like Kuhlmeier expand upon this to also require “legitimate pedagogical concerns.”
70 Performance Tasks PARCC writers LOVE drag and drop activities! The exam writers put in red herrings!Drag and drop tasks could include:Group arguments by document in which they appearArrange arguments in the order required to complete a logical chainLay parallel arguments side by side
71 Objective SummaryCan students create a summary of information that does not include any of their own evaluationThe essay task on the sample is essentially asking this same question.
72 Discussing Controversy Pair a reading of the texts with a discussion of Controversial Issues.This gives students a chance to practice their analytical and evaluative skillsAlso demands that students go back to the text to find evidence for their claims.
73 Tips for ControversyChoose an established model or technique to start:Socratic SeminarPublic Issues ModelCivil ConversationPhilosophical ChairsIdentify a clear purpose for the discussion
74 Tips for Controversy Provide a common basis of understanding. Establish clear ground rules.Serve as an active facilitator.Remain neutral for as long as is possible in the discussion.