Frequently Asked Questions

This section includes questions teachers asked most often during the pilot phase of the project. We hope our answers will adequately address these issues. If you have questions or concerns please contact us.

 

What will this program cost my division?
As part of The Virginia Bar Association’s educational outreach programs and funded by a grant from the Virginia Law Foundation, The VLF/VBA Rule of Law Project will cost your division nothing. The Project provides the teacher training and supplies the materials, including a website where teachers will find reading lists, pre-visitation instructional ideas, and lesson plans aligned to the state SOLs.
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Is this program aligned to the SOLs for civics?
As noted above, the Project is aligned to civics standard CE.2a. Indirectly, the Project also aligns with standards CE.6a, 6b, 7a, 10a, 10b, 10c, and 10d. Considering the interdisciplinary emphasis of the Project, standards from other disciplines may also be covered.
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How much class time is involved?
We recommend that teachers spend at least one day (no more than three days) preparing their classes for the visitation. We also make it clear to the participating teachers and lawyers that they need to do some advance team planning; in other words, they need to create a team lesson plan for the day of the visit. We recommend a problem-based, interactive activity to help engage students in a concept that, for some, will seem impersonal and remote from their lives. Preparation activities and ideas are available on this website.
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Can this project be adapted to other grade levels? Can it be adapted to other social studies courses?
Yes to both questions. While the VLF/VBA Rule of Law Project was conceived to enhance the civics curriculum, it may be used in other social studies classes such as US history classes and government classes. Working collaboratively, an English teacher and a US history teacher could create an interdisciplinary lesson based on the rule of law by using “The Gettysburg Address” and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. At a much more advanced level, an AP English Literature teacher and an AP Government teacher could team teach Aeschylus’s Oresteian Trilogy to trace the evolution of the rule of law from the concept of blood vengeance to justice with mercy.
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How much preparation must teachers do prior to the visitations?
Teachers should expect to spend one to two hours preparing for the Rule of Law Project. Part of this planning time should include meeting with the visiting lawyer.
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Do you provide lesson plans and/or training for the teachers?
Yes, the Project website provides lesson plan ideas, reading lists and historical documents, a training video for teachers and lawyers that simulates a collaborative planning session, and other downloadable materials. Teachers also have access to a coordinator willing to work with them prior to the visitations (click here for a list of contacts on the "Contact Us" page of this website). All of these materials and services are free.
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What makes this project different from other “talking head” visitations by other outside groups? What can we expect from the visiting lawyers and judges?
First, we provide guidance for the teachers and lawyers to ensure that students don’t sit through a “talking head” presentation. This is the reason we provide training for the lawyers and judges as well as the teachers. It is also the reason we maintain a resources page on the website. In the end, though, the depth of student engagement depends on the willingness of the teacher and his or her visiting lawyer or judge to communicate and collaborate prior to the scheduled visitation. As is the case with any good lesson, if the instructors – teacher and lawyer – are well-prepared with interactive activities, students will engage. An engaged student will rarely be bored.
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Do you provide study materials that will assist students in understanding the concept more clearly?
Yes. We provide materials for the teachers to prepare the students as well as activities that students can complete individually or in collaborative groups.
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Does this project make real-life connections or does it simply focus on the abstract concept of the rule of law?
The Virginia Law Foundation & The Virginia Bar Association Rule of Law Project seeks to make the abstract concept real. The very presence of lawyers and judges in the classrooms brings the real world to students. For many students, the only experience they may have with the legal system is what they see on TV or what they may have experienced in their personal lives. The former is often a false or exaggerated view of the legal system; the latter is often a negative experience. With appropriate preparation and commitment from the teacher and lawyer, we hope to change these perceptions about the rule of law; to encourage teachers and students to carry their study beyond the one-day visit with a lawyer or judge; to see the implications for and connections to other areas of their education and lives; to engage students in appreciating that lawyers and judges are citizens like themselves, and that everyone is responsible for maintaining the rule of law for the good of the community.
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