HOME SWEET HOME
Excerpted from today’s issue of the
Daily Times: “A large group of
wetland animals marched this morning on City Hall demanding to be
heard.... Their current legal
representation is being handled
by the prestigious law
firm of Boyd, Duhe, Conham
and Stihl. The animals are seeking
restitution from the federal, state and
local governments for the unpardonable
crime of rendering them homeless. They claim that, over the past 40 years, urban development has encroached upon their habitat to
the extent that they no longer have a suitable place to live. Herons, egrets, nutria and alligators are currently residing along suburban canals seeking what little refuge and sustenance are available. Other residents have been forced to move from their ancestral homes and relocate or die of exposure to the elements.”
“A trial date has been set for next Wednesday to evaluate the plaintiffs’ demands and
will be presided over by the honorable Judge N. St. Cyr, fifth circuit court. The defense
counsel maintains that these animals are complaining out of turn, that they are lazy,
good-for-nothing bums who would rather loaf about near canals than work to earn a
decent living. The district attorney’s office, who is handling the defense, also contends that the needs of humans take precedence over those of mere ‘swamp animals’ and therefore the urbanization process is one of progress, not one of retrogression.”
(The educator should tailor the exercise to apply to the students’ home parish)
Note: This exercise can be performed in multiple ways. The teacher can provide students with the background materials (life history traits) on each animal and treat the exercise as a simple role-playing game. The teacher can provide the reference materials necessary for the students to locate the facts for themselves during a class period devoted to research, or the
fact-gathering can be assigned as a homework assignment
1. Read the “newspaper article,” and write the following problem statement on the board.
Thousands of animals have been made homeless by the rapid development of urban areas which take over wetland habitat. Randomly assign roles to the students to play in the courtroom drama:
- Judge (1)
- Defense Attorneys, Prosecuting Attorneys
- Jury (12)
- Expert Witnesses (one for each type of animal)
- Detectives who research for the attorneys
- The remaining students can represent townspeople divided to represent pro and con viewpoints.
2. Make copies of and distribute data sheets to students. These are to be
used as tools for gathering information on the life history traits of wetland animals as
well as information sheets for the attorneys to use during the ensuing trial.
3. Allow students to begin an independent fact-gathering and strategy-planning period.
Students should keep the role they are playing in mind, and attempt to tailor their
responses and strategies to their particular role.
4. Arrange classroom to represent a courtroom: single chair up front for the judge, twelve
chairs to one side for the jury, etc.
or on to Chapter 10!