Outreach is an important initiative in the District of Connecticut. One of the primary goals of our District’s Public Outreach Committee is to educate young people and the public about the important role that the federal courts, our judges and our lawyers play in preserving the rule of law.
We aim to establish partnerships that include federal judges, attorneys, educators, students, community groups and court personnel to open the federal courthouses in Connecticut for learning opportunities for students.
The Public Outreach Committee of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut invites you to consider any of the following outreach activities and programs that may fit with your curriculum. Upon request, any of the programs can be tailored to fit your needs.
- DISTRIBUTE POSTERS TO THE SCHOOLS: The court can send flyers to schools and community programs for Law Day, Constitution/Citizenship Day, or specific legal topics of interest.
- DISTRIBUTE HANDOUTS: The court can distribute general information explaining Law Day and Constitution/Citizenship Day that can be read during morning announcements at schools, etc.
- RECORDED VIDEOS: The court can provide brief recorded videos to show at school assemblies, community programs, etc. addressing general content, featuring judges from our court.
- READ TO AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASS: Either as part of Read Across America Week (the first week of March) or at any time, judges can visit elementary schools in-person or via Zoom to read We the Kids by David Catrow, or other age-appropriate books to elementary-level classes. We the Kids contains the actual words of the Preamble to the Constitution, using a humorous picture book that helps children understand the Constitution.
- WRITE A WELCOME LETTER TO NEW CITIZENS: Students can write letters to newly naturalized citizens welcoming them as new citizens. The court can distribute the letters to new citizens at Naturalization ceremonies, read letters during ceremonies, and/or display letters at the ceremonies. The court can invite students to Naturalization ceremonies to personally deliver letters. The court can highlight a student at a ceremony by inviting a student to read a welcome letter.
- PARTICIPATE IN THE CONSTITUTION QUIZ BOWL: Students are invited to answer Constitution Bowl questions posted on the court’s website. This challenging and fun game is offered in September to coincide with Constitution/Citizenship Day. Prizes can be awarded.
- ART CONTESTS: The court can engage elementary and middle school students in art contests addressing a legal issue, Law Day or Constitution/Citizenship Day. The artwork or photographs will be displayed around the courthouse, and/or may be submitted and displayed digitally. The judges can invite the student artists to the courthouse to view their artwork on display. Alternatively, the judges can invite the student artists and their families to attend an evening Zoom session during which the winning artwork and photographs will be displayed. Prizes can be awarded to the winning artists.
- ESSAY CONTESTS: The court can engage middle school or high school students in essay contests addressing a legal issue either as part of Law Day or Constitution/Citizenship Day. The essays will be judged by court staff, attorneys and/or judges and the judges can invite students to the courthouse to read the winning essays. Alternatively, the judges can invite the students and their families to an evening Zoom session during which the winning students can read their essays. Prizes can be awarded to the winning writers.
- MEET A JUDGE: The court can host a Zoom session, or in-person visit to the courthouse, for a class or community group to meet a federal judge, engage in a Q&A session, or address a specific legal topic.
- CAREER PATH INFORMATION SESSIONS: The court can host a Zoom session, or in-person visit to the courthouse, for a class or community group to meet a diverse panel of judges, United State Probation Officers, court staff, and attorneys with the goal of offering an authentic learning opportunity to students by allowing them to see people like themselves doing the various jobs available at all levels of the federal court system.
- PARTICIPATE IN CAREER DAY: Judges, attorneys and court staff can participate in career day programming at a school, in-person or via Zoom. The participants from the court can speak to students about their work and the paths they took to get to their current careers.
- LIBRARY LAB: The Second Circuit’s Justice For All: Courts and the Community offers “Library Labs” to interested secondary school classes. In these labs, court librarians teach students how to conduct online research and identify legitimate, timely information. Currently, sessions are being held online. The Lab program consists of the research session and a separate conversation with a federal judge. Each class is about 40-45 minutes long. Interested teachers are invited to fill-out the registration survey here: https://forms.gle/pru32BYVVKxruoo66
- HOST A TRIVIA GAME: The school, with the involvement of a judge or attorney, can prepare a class on a legal topic and then conduct a fun trivia game with the judge or attorney. The background preparation/learning component and the trivia game may be held in-person or via Zoom.
- ATTEND A NATURALIZATION: The court can invite students or a community group to attend a Naturalization session at the courthouse to celebrate Constitution/Citizenship Day and meet with the presiding judge following the session. The court can explore whether outreach participants may attend a session remotely.
- TEACH A CIVICS COURSE: Judges and/or attorneys can collaborate with a teacher in-person or via Zoom to co-teach a course, teach multiple sessions, or teach a single day on a specific topic that is part of the class’s existing syllabus.
- PROVIDE LEARNING MATERIALS TO TEACHERS: The court can provide learning materials on a range of topics that middle and high school teachers can use to teach lessons independently, or in conjunction with judges and/or attorneys. The materials can be used along with portions of the grade-level curriculum. The court can provide to elementary schools digitally accessible lessons through iCivics.
- TEACH A CLASS HOSTED BY THE COURT: Judges and/or volunteer attorneys can teach an interactive instructional 50-minute class via Zoom or in-person with course materials provided by the court, on a range of topics, including, but not limited to:
- Expressing Unpopular Opinions: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Synder v. Phelps (picketing at military funerals);
- Access to Education: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Plyler v. Doe (immigrant children);
- Participating in the Judicial Process: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Batson v. Kentucky (race and jury selection) and J.E.B. v. Alabama (gender and jury selection);
- Separation of Powers and the 14th Amendment – Title IX: The students read, discuss and answer questions related to Grove City College v. Bell. Focus on the impact that the interplay of the three branches of government had on gender equity in sports.
- There are additional lesson plans accessible from the Center for Civic Education if there is interest in other topics.
- TEACH A HALF DAY (OR LESS) DISTANCE LEARNING ACTIVITY ON CIVIL DISCOURSE PRESENTED IN THE FORM OF A COURT HEARING: The court can provide an interactive learning activity to stimulate critical thinking and foster civil discourse skills. The students participate as attorneys and/or jurors, along with volunteer attorney mentors and judges. The program involves self-reflection and discussion prompts intended for students to identify what they would do in tense situations and controversial conversations.
- CONDUCT AN IN-PERSON MOCK TRIAL: The court can host an in-person mock trial at the courthouse. Students can prepare as a class in advance by reading the cases on which the mock trial fact pattern is based. Students travel to one of the three seats of court (Bridgeport, New Haven or Hartford), and conduct a mock trial before a presiding judge who assists a student serving as the judge. Attorneys coach the student attorneys and the mock jurors. The court provides lunch and an opportunity for the students to meet with the judge(s) involved.
For more information contact Monica Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org
LAW DAY PROGRAMS:
CONSTITUTION AND CITIZENSHIP DAY PROGRAMS: