Have you heard of Law Day? In our Learning Commons, we spread it out to celebrate Law Month, talking about the theme, bringing in guest speakers, and working on posters to celebrate our constitution and legal system.
Having an attorney husband and an undergrad in political science / pre-law might be an additional factor to my passion.
News of Law Day
In the hundreds of emails I receive each week, there comes an email in late winter each year reminding all certified staff of the upcoming Law Day poster contest held by our local Bar Association. This lightly-publicized event happens each spring, and with typically only a few entries, students in our county have a genuine chance of winning the contest.
To promote the event in the Learning Commons, I gave an introduction and overview of the topic with each of my classes, share and have students find related web resources, and then contacted the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association to be connected with local attorneys to visit with my classes on the topic for the year.
Guest Speaker Attorneys
Both last year and this year I had no trouble finding several local attorneys to speak with my students. Last year’s topic was Miranda: More than Words, and this year’s is The Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming American Democracy. Both topics are quite heavy for a 2nd – 5th grade audience, and while I have a pre-law and political science background, I still struggle to bring the basis and importance of constitutional law down to an elementary level.
Once the poster theme has been introduced, I give the students time during our “May Do” and book checkout time to work on their posters. Students could also take home posters to complete them and return them to me.
We have typically had a few dozen entries, and I wish it were more. I think the weight of the topics and time and thinking it takes to convert such abstract themes into a visual piece makes it overwhelming for many, especially the younger, students.
Tying Into Information Literacy Standards
However, tying visual communication, listening to and discussing topics with local guest speakers, asking meaningful questions, the internet research component, and community involvement into what we are doing in the Learning Commons still provides the students with a much deeper experience and hopefully a greater understanding of the legal system in our country.
This is the form I used to both give parents information about the contest, and obtain student information for entries. I printed this page on card stock, so the student poster was created on the backside of their entry form.
Stay tuned in April for photos of the student work on display at the local public Library Center where we will see if we have any winners from Sherwood!