Let’s Scale Down the Jury’s Ladder

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Let’s Scale Down the Jury’s Ladder

Created by Tamara Mencer

Brief Description

Using ‘The Ladder of Inference’, and the process of inquiry, acknowledgment, and advocacy, students will learn how to evaluate the decision-making process of the Twelve Jurors who must reach a unanimous verdict. 


Learning Objectives


By learning about and using ‘The ladder of inference’ and the proper process for debate and negotiation, students will become aware of these crucial skills. In addition, they will be able to use them to analyze how characters in the literature they are studying arrive to their conclusions. 


Lead-in / Preparation / Prerequisite Knowledge


Students need to be familiar with the Jury System as practiced in the US, to have read up to Act Two of the Play “Twelve Angry Men” by Reginald Rose. They need to be familiar with the stances of the two key members of the jury: Eight and Three.  


Estimated Class-Time Required

One double lesson. (90 mins) 


Description of Activities 

Step ONE:  The HOOK. Show the two pictures to the class. Ask them to comment. (5 mins)


 Step TWO Critical vocabulary


Key Vocabulary / Phrases  (15 minutes) 


Write the vocabulary words on the board and ask if anyone has heard of them. If not give the definition for all to see on the board. Then wipe off the word so that the definitions remain. Ask students to recall the new words. 


  1. Inferring:  is based on drawing conclusions about the past or present.
  2. Inquiry: an act of asking for information.
  3. Acknowledgment: a way of showing you understand and accept what a person says.
  4. Paraphrase: repeating what a person says in your own words, often to show you understand.
  5. Advocacy: public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or opinion.
  6. Assumptions: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen without proof.
  7. Filter: to clarify, purify, and sift through.
  8. Lens: an object used to focus clearly on something.   



Show Assumptions Video Clip. After viewing: The teacher should ask why we should not be quick to judge a situation. They should point out it is so easy to assume given a person’s appearance and background. Our unique lenses and filtering system means each of us makes slightly different conclusions.  (5 mins)





Listening exercise

Model this in front of the class before explaining the difference between inquiry and acknowledgment and advocacy. 


Choose 3 volunteers and give them a statement card. EG: school uniforms should be abolished. A is to adopt this stance. B to take the opposite. C to observe. What will most likely happen is a strongly worded argument. After 5 minutes, ask C what kind of sentences were used: statements or questions. Now explain that it is much more effective to inquire /question the opposite speaker and paraphrase to gain a deeper understanding of his opinion. Only after he explains himself can advocacy begin.  


  1. mins for modelling and explanation)  


NOW In groups of three the students are to choose a statement card: Examples: Women should have equal salaries to men / Litterbugs should be fined heavily/ Capital punishment should be banned forever. The students in each group name themselves A, B and C. 


Person A tells Person B their stance as per their card and Person B’s role is to demonstrate the opposite stance. Person A is to use inquiry, acknowledgement and to question Bs stance. Person C is to coach Person A. 


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-4xSKdsl5HLzyMJHFH4dqMyhjOzmlsi3AhorjVhlpEk (control + click to follow link)


The pupils should record the conversations for later assessment. 


  1.  - 15 minutes. )




Show the blank ladder template to the class: Briefly explain the stages from the bottom;  data – to the top – conclusions. The vocabulary learnt should help them understand the concepts.  (5-10 minutes)

Ladder of inference: group work. Give out the templates. Ask students in pairs to chart the process from the data to the conclusions of two key members of the Jury – in reverse.  Using the play text, look at Eight and Three’s conclusions and work backwards down the ladder filling in details at each rung of their thought process. 


Assist groups having difficulty filling out their ladders. 


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1H4R7FOxgi1CQqdFewPr0zM9tQOTArFhP0BoucO-wlDk (control + click to follow link)  


( 15 – 20 minutes)


After 20 minutes choose two volunteers to read out their ladders to the class – one for each character. Repeat this process, praising correct templates.  (5-10 minutes) 


Step SIX

Plenary and Reflection.


If time have students fill out a blank ladder template with a personal example of how they reached a conclusion during a conflict. 




  1. By reading the ladders that each group has completed
  2. By reviewing the recorded conversations using inquiry, acknowledgment, and advocacy. 




  1. Fill in the ladder of inference template with a personal conflict and conclusion reached. 
  2. As a follow-up lesson, analyze the way the Eight leads the Jury discussion as opposed to the Three. Which techniques does each use?




If relevant, please include any files or links needed for the activity.

  • Ladder of inference for two jurors:





This lesson is designed for a strong 5 point 11th grade class. The same lesson can be adapted to meet the needs of different class levels but more time needs to be given to each activity.


If some of the groups finish early during the listening exercise, ask them to switch roles and pick a new statement card. 

Attached Files

Ladder-of-Inference-Tool- 12 angry Men.docx.pdfDownload
Twelve Angry Men - DATA.docx.pdfDownload
Statement cards for listening exercise.docx.pdfDownload