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Persuasive Writing, Public Speaking


11th, 12th


Social Studies, English Language Arts


150 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Hawai'i


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Trial for Hawai'i's Future

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Apr 24, 2024
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In this lesson, students learn about a lawsuit brought by Hawaiian youth climate activists and participate in a mock trial to explore the role of the government and the rights of youth.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students reflect on the meaning of justice, watch a video about actions taken by Hawaiian youth climate activists, and discuss their reactions.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students learn the components of a trial, review the case brought by the Hawaiian youth climate activists, and prepare to participate in a mock trial.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students participate in a mock trial, discuss the verdict, and reflect on how the outcome relates to real-world challenges and solutions to climate change.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson aligns with Hawai‘i’s Nā Hopena A'o HĀ-BREATH Framework.

  • Students learn about a real-world event and engage in a mock trial inspired by young people their own age.

  • Students have an opportunity to develop critical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills based on a high-interest and relevant task.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the elements of an effective argument, including how to form a claim, counterclaim, and rebuttal.

  • Teacher can make the jury an odd number of students in case they are unable to reach a consensus and need to come to a verdict by way of “majority rules.”

  • Students should have access to the Internet in order to read the assigned articles and research evidence that can be used to support their side.


  • The preparation and mock trial can be spread out over several class periods. For example: 

    • Day 1: Inquire & Investigate, Day 2: Mock Trial

    • Day 1: Inquire & Investigate, Day 2: Revisions & Practice, Day 3: Mock Trial, Day 4: Reflection

  • Teacher can create a word wall or anchor chart to remind students of the courtroom terms.

  • The students on the jury can role-play citizens from different walks of life or different places of residence in Hawai‘i, and write a paragraph during the preparation time to explain what is important to them and their criteria for deciding the case.

  • A student or group of students can play the role of the judge.

  • The class can role-play the trial more than once, taking on different roles each time.

  • Students can be permitted to “object” throughout the trial, and practice additional counter-argument techniques found on pages 9-13 of The Debunking Handbook.

  • Students can prepare in advance by exploring a model for making arguments and counterarguments by watching the video Renewable Energy Is Way Too Expensive, Right?

  • Students can research and compare the outcome of the lawsuit by youth climate activists in Hawai‘i with other lawsuits by youth climate activists, such as those in Montana and Utah.

Scientist Notes

In this lesson, students can discuss what civil trials, human rights, and climate justice entail. They will study in-depth information about the effects of climate change in Hawai'i and how to organize a mock trial with solid evidence to charge the authorities and major polluters who are responsible for climate change. The lesson passed our review for science credibility after a careful examination of all the contents.


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

Supporting Standards

  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.ES.11-12.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • W.AW.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to SubjectToClimate standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on SubjectToClimate.
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