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For Educators - K-12 Promising Approaches
Grade Level: 9-12
Street Law is a high school elective course blends practical, law-related content, interactive teaching strategies, and positive connections to the community through service projects or legal resource people who participate in classroom instruction and discussion.
The content of the course includes an introduction to law and the legal system, criminal and juvenile justice, consumer law, torts, family law and individual rights and responsibilities.
The Street Law course is adaptable. The course as taught at Deering High School in Portland focuses on criminal, civil and constitutional law. Since it was adopted in 2001, it has become the most popular social studies elective at Deering.
Street Law, Inc., encourages schools to create heterogeneous classes for Street Law and suggests use in grades 10 - 12. Many teachers report that students who had not done well in other classes thrive in Street Law because of the relevant content and the student-centered interactive teaching strategies.
From 1980–1983, a US Department of Justice-funded study found that students in Street Law classes who were taught according to a series of best practice prescriptions showed significant reductions in self reports of delinquent behavior. However, not all Street Law classes featured this instruction and, therefore, not all of them had these positive results.
Several years later, a similar evaluation was done of the Street Law classes offered as part of the Department of Defense School system, and the results were more consistent. In addition to behavioral and attitudinal improvements, the pre/post tests showed increases in knowledge.
The CMS review states Street Law is probably the most comprehensive curriculum on law and the legal system for an elective setting. It models strong pedagogy and promotes the use of outside resource people in the classroom, thus linking the curriculum to the real world.
The Street Law course is most often a one semester course, but materials are adequate for a year-long course. A classroom set of the Street Law materials costs about $1,200. The prices are set by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, the publisher. A trained social studies teacher with some background in government is required. It is very helpful to include legal and law enforcement volunteers in the community. Access to a computer lab is also quite helpful.
The Street Law curriculum includes: a student textbook, comprehensive teacher guide, a strong web complement (http://www.streetlaw.glencoe.com), a workbook that includes ideas about community service projects that can be launched from a Street Law class, electronic testing materials, a video with TG (Student Scenes), a binder with transparencies/reproducible masters, and a book called Street Law's Classroom Guide to Mock Trials and Moot Courts.
Street Law conducts two six-day institutes at the U.S. Supreme Court every summer for thirty teachers per institute, by competitive application. Street Law can also deliver staff development in state.
"Very educational. Life changing."
Lee Arbetman, Director of U.S. Programs
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