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Summer Reading Inspires Fifth- and Sixth-Graders to Conduct Trial to Resolve Suspicious Death

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday, September 18, Manhattan Country School fifth- and sixth-graders teamed up to put on a trial based on their community summer reading book, Tangerine by Edward Bloor. The novel features the complex drama of the Fisher family and a series of bizarre natural and human disasters in the small community of Tangerine, Florida. Central to the plot is the death of Luis Cruz, a local farmer. By all accounts Luis’ death is suspicious. The author drops several hints that Erik Fisher and Arthur Bauer, star athletes and bullies with bad attitudes, committed the crime but the story ends without a clear resolution. So on Friday, the students put Erik and Arthur on trial to determine their roles in Luis’ death.

Students in each class were assigned roles in the trial, from attorneys to witnesses to jurors, and partnered to prepare testimony. Students emphasized evidence in the story and found quotes to support their arguments. Four students stood out for their exceptional work as attorneys: Kellyn (fifth) and Emma (sixth) teamed up for the prosecution, while Rafael (fifth) and Ariana (sixth) presented the defense. The witnesses all did a great job inhabiting their characters and creating real tension in our “courtroom.”

After a robust dialogue and some sharp questioning of both teams, the jury returned a verdict of guilty for both Erik and Arthur. A special thank you to Sadie (fifth), who stepped up as jury foreperson during deliberations!