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Make the Case


Students defend or prosecute answer choices as correct (innocent) or incorrect (guilty).


  • Assessment question


  1. Present students with an assessment question.
  2. Organize students into groups of 4 and allow them time to analyze the question as a team (home group):
    • Analyze the stimulus (or genre) – If this visual could talk, it would tell me _______.
    • Analyze the vocabulary – Three important words in the question are _______, _______, and _______ because _______.
    • Analyze the topic – This question is mainly about _______.
  3. Assign each student a potential answer choice.
  4. Students move to huddle with their expert group in different corners of the room to determine if their answer choice is …
    • Correct or “innocent” by explaining why it is the correct response OR
    • Incorrect or “guilty” by explaining why their answer is the incorrect response
  5. Students return to their home group and have 1 minute each to Make the Case by defending innocent/correct answers and prosecuting guilty/incorrect answers.
  6. Students deliberate and come to a consensus about which answer is innocent (correct).
  7. Observe students’ prosecution and defense arguments and clarify/verify as appropriate.
  8. Students summarize what they learned, sketch a related visual stimulus, and note how to avoid mistakes in the future.

Classroom Management

  • Rehearse the strategy with a fun, simple topic (candy or soft drinks) before using it with academic content.
  • Role-play/rehearse how to appropriately move into/out of expert groups and model how to verbally Make the Case.
  • Remind students there will be no harm or humiliation for incorrect answers because correcting mistakes is a sign of intelligence!


  • Promote access by previewing the question and pairing with a supportive peer.
  • Promote access by allowing the use of student/teacher summary notes.
  • Provide response support by providing students with a written defense or prosecution (while in expert groups) to share when making their case in their home groups.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Predict which answer choice most other students may have mistakenly chosen and how this error could be avoided.
    • Infer which errors were careless mistakes and explain how to correct them.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.