Education Technology

NCSS: Search and Seizure Issues in Your School

Published on 07/19/2006

Activity Overview

Students will read the U.S. Supreme Court Case, New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325. They will form into groups of three, independently research an assigned issue, share their findings with the group, and create a timeline for a valid school search.

Before the Activity

See the attached Activity PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity.

Print the appropriate pages from the Activity for your class.

Install the NoteFolio (tm) and TImeSpan(tm) Apps on the students' graphing calculators following the attached instructions.

Ensure that the classroom computers have the TImeSpan(tm) Creator software installed. Make enough copies of the three Student Work Sheets in this activity so that each student can receive a copy of each one. Divide the class into groups of three students. Assign each student a number from one to three within his or her group. The numbers correspond to the issues contained on the Student Work Sheet, Searches and Seizures in Our Public Schools — Sheet 2.

During the Activity

  • Distribute the appropriate pages from the Activity to your class
  • Follow the procedures outlined in the Activity


  • Students will:
  • Identify, analyze, interpret, and evaluate sources and examples of citizens' rights and responsibilities.
  • Evaluate United States Supreme Court cases to determine the meanings of search, seizure, probable cause, and the warrant requirement.
  • Examine persistent issues involving the rights, roles, and status of the individual in relation to the general welfare.
  • Participate in a Socratic Seminar in which the implications of the Fourth Amendment are assessed. For purposes of this lesson, a Socratic Seminar is a group discussion where the instructor provides broad discussion questions to stimulate student thinking. The class is to have a discussion of the important topic by integrating any primary and secondary material utilized by the instructor.
  • Write a persuasive essay in which the student takes on the role of a judge and utilizes previous case law to reach a decision.
  • After the Activity

    Open the TImeSpan(tm) Creator software on the teacher's PC. Ensure that a projector is connected to the PC so that the timelines can be displayed for the class to view. Have students volunteer to present the timelines they have created. Also, develop a timeline from the presentations that can be sent back to the students to use as a study aid.

    Debrief the students at the conclusion of this activity concerning New Jersey v. T.L.O., but be careful to only discuss what the Court decided. Ask students to think about the case and to finish answering the questions on Student Work Sheet, Searches and Seizures in Our Public Schools — Sheet 3.