Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Legal Thriller Alternative: Trial Research
Aside from the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, there have been many criminal trials that have generated enormous publicity. Some have even been hailed as "the trial of the century." In this activity, you will research and report on one of these trials.
I is for INTERNET. Use keywords for looking on a search engine, like Hotbot (www.hotbot.com), or use an Internet catalog like Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), which allows you to keep narrowing down your subject until you find what you want. Search engines will return many hits, most of them useless. If you find nothing after looking at 20 hits, try different keywords. All Internet search engines and catalogs have pages giving search tips. Take a few minutes and study them. You'll save time in the long run. When you find a good site, check its reliability. In general, the most reliable sites are run by the media and government. We have listed useful links on the Constitutional Rights Foundation's Web site (www.crf-usa.org.)
L is for LIBRARY. This should be your major resource. Ask the reference librarian to point you in the right direction. Look for different kinds of sources, e.g., encyclopedias, books, magazine and newspaper articles. And if your subject is controversial, get different viewpoints. Your library will probably have separate computer catalogs for books and periodicals. When you find a relevant book or article in a catalog, the catalog will list additional subject headings. Search under these headings as well.
T is for TAKE NOTES. Put them in your own words. Write clearly and on one side of the paper only. Use a spiral notebook or note cards. Note cards are useful if you're doing a research paper because you can put one point on each card and sort the cards point by point. If you use a notebook, leave wide margins so you can add notations.
E is for EXPERTS. In your research, keep track of the names of people and organizations interested in your topic. These can be the authors of books and magazine articles, reporters, government officials, and non-profit groups. On the Internet, you can search for organizations, and one site--Ask an Expert (www.askanexpert.com)--lets you send e-mail to experts in various fields who will respond to questions. You can also find organizations in Gale's Encyclopedia of Associations (at libraries) and in your local phone book. If you find an expert, write the person or organization a polite note with two or three questions you want answered. If the expert is local, call and try to set up a brief interview. Why will experts talk with you? Because they're interested in the subject. If you show an interest, they likely will respond.
R is for RECORD. Write down each of your sources. Keep track of where you've looked, even dead ends. That will keep you from unwittingly searching the same place twice.
Reprinted with permission of Constitutional Rights Foundation, 601 S. Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90005. (243) 487-5590. www.crf-usa.org
© Annenberg Foundation 2013. All rights reserved. Legal Policy.