Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies

Bill Cairns, Snake River High School, Blackfoot, ID


Appropriate for grades 11 & 12.

OVERVIEW:  The students will observe first hand a simulation of
what the New Jersey vs. T.L.O. (1985) court case was about.

PURPOSE:  To allow students the chance to see how the case
developed, and how it may affect them today.

OBJECTIVES:  Students will be able to:

 1.  Identify the events leading to the court case on New Jersey
     vs. T.L.O.

 2.  Identify the conflicting issues in the case.

 3.  Explain the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court as it relates
     to this case.


     PART ONE:  As the students are entering the classroom you
     come up to a student* and start accusing her of having
     cheated on a previous test.  You grab her purse and dump out
     the contents.  There you find a cheat sheet for your test, a
     controlled substance, and a number of other items.  You take
     that student down to the office immediately so justice might
     served.  (* That student is the only one in on the whole

     PART TWO:  Upon returning to class you begin to discuss the
     T.L.O. case.

     1.  Explain the events that lead up to the case.

     2.  Identify the individuals in the case.

     3.  Allow students to identify rights on both sides of the

     4.  Ask the students to express their feelings about the case
         and also about what happened in class at the beginning of
         the hour.

     5.  Have the accused student return to the class.

     6.  On the board have students list why the search was legal
         or not.

     7.  Have students determine how the Supreme Court ruled and

     8.  Give the students the Court's ruling and why.

     PART THREE:  Have students get in groups of three and write a
     dramatization of a case involving search and seizure.

     1.  Dramatization should be clear and easy to follow.

     2.  Dramatization should be 3 to 4 minutes in length.

     3.  Each group will have a discussion leader help the class
         identify the

         a.  Events
         b.  Conflicting Issues
         c.  Possible Decisions

         * As a teacher you may want to share real court cases
         (and their decisions) that are similar to those of the


     1.  A prepared student to role play the accused part.

     2.  Case background on the New Jersey vs. T.L.O. case.

     3.  Guidelines for what you want the groups to do.

     4.  Basic background on other cases that students may
         dramatize, may be helpful but not necessary.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  This method is a great way to allow
students to have first hand experience with the issue of search
and seizure but not to be the victim.  It may require some
background on the teachers part to relate cases to the students'
dramatizations.  Or the teacher could just assign a case to each
group and have them base their dramatization on it.

Students love "hands on" experience in social studies and will
make you look like a great teacher.


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