The People Versus Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit Alternative Assessment)

The Goblin Tribunal has brought charges against Mr. Bilbo Baggins. It is up to your class to decide on his guilt or innocence.

As a group, students create evidence based arguments accompanied by visual presentations to persuade their teacher and/or peers of whether or not Bilbo Baggins is guilty of the heinous crimes he is accused of. Students look at The Hobbit from a different perspective. Typically the reader cannot help but see Bilbo as the hero. When forced to examine the text from evil’s perspective they must use their imagination to create a compelling argument.

Day 1 – Discovery
Split students into either the Goblin Prosecution or the Elvish Defense. Separate these groups into smaller groups to handle the different charges that Bilbo faces.

Avoid classic crimes like burglary and murder. Use creative crimes like:

Betraying a friend
Bullying spiders
Being too Tookish
Cheating at the riddle game

Students fill out The Hobbit Evidence Worksheet. Be sure they pause after the “Quotation” section.

Students send files to a litigator on the other team. After this process students fill out the bottom section of the worksheet.

Day 2

Have students create presentations complete with evidence from The Hobbit and illustrations by John Howe and/or Ted Nasmith. Write an argument to accompany the presentation. Encourage students to anticipate the other side’s argument and counter it.

John Howe’s illustrations for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings
Illustrations by Ted Nasmith

Day 3

Students present and the teacher decides a victor.


Use this for any book. It encourages students to consider both sides of an argument and to think outside of the box

I like to assign this group project before an argumentative essay.

Put shy students in the Jury. The Jury is responsible for creating a rubric to judge the arguments and decide a winner.


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