Saturday, March 5, 2016

Spark Student Motivation:Transform Your Classroom...Classroom to Courtroom!

One of the most effective ways to HOOK your students is to transform your classroom. In can be as simple as moving desks and covering walls or as elaborate as bringing in furniture, props, and decorating the entire room with a theme. Either way, your students will love it!

Last week I decided to transform my classroom into a courtroom to get them excited about finding evidence in the text. I wanted to make it glaringly obvious when they have a "debate or argument" with someone they use elaboration every day.  They expound on their evidence by explaining and adding in more details in their conversations.  It's important to have a balance of evidence and elaboration in their writing, so my hope was this lesson would transfer that into their writing!

Florida 5th graders have a state writing test to write and opinion or informational essay. Both pieces require the use of using evidence from the texts provided and elaborating on the evidence. I found three different articles about whether students should or should not be allowed to use cell phones in school-I knew this would be a hot topic!  We read all three articles before we "entered the courtroom".

This room transformation was easy, quick, and basically free! I already had my college graduation gown (I normally use this for my multiplication graduation), plastic gavel, black paper, black tablecloths. My only cost was the printing of my jury members, but this could be hand drawn by your students. I thought of this idea on Sunday before I transformed my classroom on Monday, so no time for drawings! I also printed the Florida flag for my backdrop.


1. Cover front of room with black paper.
2. Move table for judge and desk for witness and cover with black tablecloths.
3. Hang jury members on side wall or tape to extra chairs on the side of the classroom.
4. Finishing touches: flag on judge's table with gavel and papers. Hang flag as a backdrop behind the judge.

 As soon as my kids walked in, they were filled with excitement and curiosity. I dressed up with my hair back and clear glasses to look more official. I grabbed the flag off my wall and placed it in a vase with rocks (also in my classroom stash) to hold it in place. I did not have a real base for my gavel, so naturally I used a pad of Post-Its! :) favorite part was calling the court to order! (I may have done it more than once!)

We swore to use text evidence and elaboration on our all time favorite read aloud (Wonder).

I hung my12 jury members on the side wall.

I separated the desks in our classroom in half to represent each side.

Even if they didn't agree with the "side" they were on, there was enough evidence in the text to support either argument.

Each side called "witnesses" to argue their points. It was so amazing to see them all constantly referring back to the text to prove their thinking.

I love room transformations, and this one will be marked as a favorite and brought back, especially with it's ease and low cost. My students really learned from this experience and it made our learning memorable. I knew this would be a great way to review and ease their fears the week of testing.

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!


  1. What a creative way of promoting friendly discourse in the classroom based on text evidence! I'm sure your students loved this fun transformation of their classroom into a courtroom with you presiding as their Honorable Judge!
    Antonia @ forkin4th

  2. This is just the cutest ever! You outdid yourself! What an amazing job you did!

  3. Love it! Is there somewhere where I can find the "jurors" that you used? Can't wait to try this in my classroom!

  4. Great idea!!! Loved how you motivated your students!!!

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  6. I love this brilliantly creative idea! Would you be able to share with us the articles you used and the adorable jurors? THANK YOU so much you are a true inspiration!!!!

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  9. Can you share your articles for the cell phone use debate?

    1. I would also like the cell phone articles. Thanks. Loved the drama and creativity.

    2. I would also like the cell phone articles. Thanks. Loved the drama and creativity.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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