Starting September 2011, the Chester Youth Court Volunteers (CYCV) student group at Swarthmore College has worked with Youth Court students at Smedley Allied Health High School in Chester, Pennsylvania. Collaborating with students, teachers, and education experts, we have developed lesson plans and activities aimed at building skills that are essential for students in successfully operating a youth court.

By posting these lesson plans here, we hope to not only record the group's institutional history but also make these resources available for other students and adults involved with Youth Court programs. Our group strives to better serve youth court students through feedback and continual reflection, so we welcome your suggestions. Each lesson plan has been revised before posting in order to address issues that arose during class.

If you would like to use any lesson plans published here, please contact us first at

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Constructing an Effective Youth Advocate Statement//Lesson Plan for Monday, February 28, 2011

Constructing an Effective Youth Advocate Statement
Materials of the Chester Youth Court Volunteers at Swarthmore College

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:
• List the components of an effective youth advocate statement.
• Construct an effective youth advocate statement, while using the presentation techniques
they have learned in the previous lesson.

I. Review: The Basics of Good Public Speaking and Self-Presentation (5 minutes)
a. Introduce today’s lesson as one on constructing an effective youth advocate
b. In the large group, ask students to name the components of good public speaking. Record their answers on the board.

II. Video and Discussion: Constructing a Youth Advocate Statement (10 minutes)

a. Videos: Show a video of an actual youth court advocate statement from the East Palo Alto Youth Court:
b. Have students count off into 4 groups with 1 college student leading each group.
c. Discussion: Have students discuss the strategies used by the lawyer and youth
advocate in the videos.
  •  What did the youth advocates say to persuade the jury? 
  • What information did they draw upon from their knowledge of the respondent? (respondent’s personal life, their previous clean discipline record at school, their remorse, etc)
  • How long should the Youth Advocate statement be? Does it matter? (could be about a paragraph and should cover a checklist of components)
III. Handout and Practice (30 minutes)
a. Distribute the handout listing components of an effective youth
advocate statement.
b. Within the 4 groups, each college student in each group will pretend to be
respondents who have committed offenses (ie: cutting class, name-calling, disrespecting a teacher, vandalizing school property, etc)
  • Students will question them in order to obtain the necessary information to construct an effective youth advocate statement.
  • With the help of college students, students will construct their own youth advocate statements and, if there is time, present them in front of their small groups. 
IV. Conclusion/Ticket-Out (5 minutes)
a.In the large group, students will discuss:
  • What did you consider in constructing a youth advocate statement? What points did you include?

(handout below)

Constructing an Effective Youth Advocate Statement
Materials of the Chester Youth Court Volunteers at Swarthmore College

1. Begin with “May it please the court, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my
name is _____________ and I represent _______________, the respondent.”

2. Include information about the event:
Who? What? When? Where? Why?

3. What caused the crime? Is there something happening in the defendant’s
life that may have influenced their actions?

4. Include the respondent’s feelings about the crime. Do they understand
the seriousness of their offense? Do they regret their actions? Have they
learned their lesson? Do they promise to never commit the offense again?

5. Has the respondent taken steps to apologize or make amends with the
teacher/school/fellow student involved in the offense?

6. Does the respondent have a history of getting in trouble at school or is
this their first offense?

7. Can the jury relate to the respondent?
• For example, if the respondent lost his temper: “We all have
experienced losing our temper in stressful situations. Brian made a
mistake by losing his temper and shouting at Mrs. Wright …”
• Does the respondent have goals for their future and want to put this
mistake behind them?

8. Close your statement by reviewing some of the main points of the case.

• Practice! Rehearse at least a few times.
• Speak slowly and clearly.
• Have confidence in what you say.

Download the lesson plan here

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