A Powerful Mindshift: Exams 3.0

Today was opening night for A Christmas Carol! It went great and Mr. Taylor did a fantastic job with telling that story (and the lights and sound went well too).

I have been really excited about our upcoming mock trial in History class about the Mongols and today was our last day to prep before the trial starts on Monday. By working on this trial I’ve been trying really hard to make sure my team (the defense) is working as one unit.

I am the attorney, and my team captain and I made sure to talk with each person individually about their role in this trial to help shape the testimonies around our main points. My team caption is also really organized and has done a fantastic job at creating the layout for google documents so that everyone can share information and organize thoughts really clearly. To add to that, today we spent specific time with everyone together to make sure that everyone understands how the trial will be run and what is expected of them.

It was interesting because while everyone was given the same information, I had thought about the idea how everyone learns differently, so I wanted to go over details about what they are required to have prepared just in case. As I predicted, some people weren’t entirely sure on the procedures, but hadn’t necessarily asked questions in class when we were first told about it; however, I could tell today that everyone was really focused and wasn’t afraid of asking questions to better understand their role in the trial.

What I love about this debate (and most all mock trials) is that it involves history but not just as facts. A big part of the trial is creativity. Every witness needs a backstory and they can get as creative as they want with it, including having costumes.

After school today I sent the team an email to remind them of this aspect of fun that is meant to be there:

Hey guys, I thought of a few things I forgot to mention during our conversation today about the trial. 

As a witness think of it as playing a character in a play. When you’re on trial  everything you say should be in first person and present, so for example rather then saying “Marco Polo was a traveler” (AJ) would say “I am a traveler”. 

Also with getting into character, get creative with costumes! How would your person dress? I know we haven’t talked a ton about costumes, but feel free to email me or anyone else about ideas if needed. 
(I’ve been emailing Ms. Parker and am waiting for a final response about being in the costumes all day Monday, but I will email everyone in APWH if we can. So for now assume you will be in uniform then you can bring stuff to change into for 6th period.) 
While the facts and sources are really important, as we talked about today, the creativity with your backstory and thinking and acting like your character is just as important to really telling a good story. So have fun with it!!! 
That’s all. Have a great weekend! 
(If you haven’t noticed, I’m just a little excited for this trial.) 🙂 
I’m honestly really confident about this trial because I have confidence in my team. People have seemed genuinely interested and excited about this debate, and I think the way we have been working as a team has really helped encourage this.

I’ve noticed that the prosecution team to my knowledge has not been preparing the same way as us in the sense of how much the team captain and attorney  have been communicating with their witnesses, and I’m curious to see how this impacts their argument.

This may be a school assignment, but it is a project with a competition aspect where creativity and team work are practically required in order to win. As a product of this, students are learning in what seems to be a genuinely interested fashion, and they are having fun.
Now here is a big thought: What if this trial was the final exam?
I’m currently starting to get more paranoid about final exams coming up, but at the same time I have all of these projects coming up that I’m way more interested in working on rather than studying.
This debate will show how well we can research information about the past and analyze it in order to create creative backstories and questions that will help us develop and communicate a strong argument. To me that sounds like the goals of a history class, and imagine students being excited about a final exam; students being excited to demonstrate what they have learned over the course of a semester.
HMW hack final exams so it isn’t about stress, but instead students are actually excited for them? Now that would be a powerful mindshift.

2 thoughts on “A Powerful Mindshift: Exams 3.0

  1. What a great place to start for a venture! Can’t wait to see you narrow to one venture that helps you get at the heart of what you’re truly trying to solve.

  2. Anya,

    I’m so inspired to hear you talk about your experience with the trial and the work that both teams are doing. The level of historical analysis and critical thinking has been excellent, and I am intrigued about your idea to have an experience like this serve as an “exam”. Part of our history exam this year will be to reflect on the process of the trial and what you learned, so that is one step closer! Excited to see you narrow your idea in your venture! K

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