I'll be teaching criminal law -- the substantive first-year course, not constitutional criminal procedure -- for the first time this coming year. Naturally, I'm asking colleagues for advice, doing a good deal of reading, and trying to come up with good pedagogical ideas myself; teaching a new class is exciting but daunting (and time-consuming).
I'd like, though, to also mine your collective experience for tips. Could those of you who have taken criminal law (and those who have taught it, of course) tell me what worked well in the classes you've had? Any particular nonobvious pedagogical tricks that have really helped you understand the subject, or made it more exciting? Any good ways that teachers have defused tension in class, or cleared up confusion? If so, I'd love to see this in the comments.
Please be selective; I'm not looking just for amusing stories, or arguments that the criminal justice system is broken in some ways, or for proposals for radically restructuring the criminal law class. (One day I might try a radically different approach to teaching the subject, but not the first time I teach it.) I'm looking, selfishly, for tips that would help me teach the standard first-year criminal class more effectively, preferably for nonobvious tips (i.e., more than just "be clear" or "don't insult your students"). Also, please don't discuss ways of making the teaching of rape law more effective -- I will have a separate post on that subject. Many thanks in advance for your help.