Engaging Final Exams

As a student, I was not too fond of multiple-choice final exams. It seemed that what I studied was never on the test, and the fact that it could change my grade up to 20% felt impossible. As a teacher, I hated the district-mandated final exams. I hated meeting to create them, fighting over what to ask more or who liked to teach what. All in all, it was maddening.

After getting my National Board Certification and going to a Street Law Summer Institute, I decided to change my final, and I never looked back. My students became engaged in our final exams (yes, even after the AP test), my AP test scores went through the roof, and no one failed. Yes, you read that right. No. One. Failed. I always took it personally if students failed my exams in previous years because it felt like a shortcoming on my part.

In a year where some are online, in person or a hybrid, I implore you to push against the multiple-choice tests. If you are mandated, give two. That’s how I started. I did both and gave a grade that reflected how they did on both. Then, I began to assign the Moot Court by itself. Students who would have never spoken were lawyers. Students became justices on the Court and came alive. It was my absolute favorite day of the semester.

My favorite thing about this is our ability to discuss controversial topics without becoming political or discussing my opinion (which is irrelevant). The focus is on documents, laws, and media coverage.

The white board always contained key information as we received it.

Here are the final exams/assessments I’ve written about:

Rethinking Writing Assignments/Assessments: Questions to ask: As you plan, this post will guide you in planning by asking key questions.

Socratic Discussion in a Virtual World: yes, you can do a Socratic for a final exam. I did them when I taught US History because it allowed them to show me what they knew (and you can’t really fake it). We did this and a short writing assessment to look at their progress on skills.

Intro post to Moot Court: This was the original post on how I did it before writing about the top two I’ve done.

Winter 2019: RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes Inc. vs EEOC and Aimee Stephens

Winter 2018: Tyson Timbs and a 2012 Land Rover LR2 v. State of Indiana

Independent Project: Civil Rights (used in Spring of 2020) This was born out of student want for our distance learning.

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