Posted by: jockmackenzie | June 18, 2009

Year End Activity #4 – Studying for Finals


Ted Hutchings, a friend and colleague, introduced me to the game of “Court.” Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as the basis for preparing questions, students are set on a journey that ends in courtroom drama. As an end of  year activity, the class is asked to prepare questions that will be given to prosecuting and defense attorneys.

Normally, a session of “Court” would be based on a story or novel or film but it can easily be adapted for studying an entire year’s work. I give my kids a prepared handout that guides them to ask questions from all categories – knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation. Experience has shown it is best to require that brief answers be provided.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – A Knowledge CAASE

KNOWLEDGE – remembering previously learned information
• Who, what, when, where, how ___________________?
• List three things about ______________________
• Define _______________________________

COMPREHENSION – grasping the meaning of facts, showing understanding
• Retell ____________________ in your own words
• Describe ________________________________
• What is the main idea of ___________________?
• Explain what ______________________ is/means.

APPLICATION – using learned material in new ways
• Construct a timeline that includes _________________
• Use this term in a new sentence _________________
• Demonstrate how __________________ happened
• Draw a diagram that shows ___________________
• Teach/Show me how _______________________ works

ANALYSIS – breaking material down into parts
• Analyze the parts or features of __________________
• Classify _________________ according to _____________
• Outline the main events of the story
• Compare ________________ with ________________
• Distinguish between _______________ and ____________

SYNTHESIS – putting parts together in a new way, finding alternatives
• Compose a _______ (song, poem, article, etc.) about ____________
• Combine _________________ with ________________
• Propose a solution to _________________________
• Create/Design a new __________________ (character, ending, etc.)

EVALUATION – making judgments about information, defending opinions
• Judge the motivation of ___________________________
• Discuss why ______________________________ happened
• Recommend your favorite ___________________ in the story
• Rate ____________________ according to _______________
• Predict what will happen next

As an end of year activity, it works well to allow students to pair up in order to prepare questions. (When I do group work, I always allow the option of the smallest of groups – one per group – because some kids just like to work alone.) The back of the hand-out (shown above) is mostly lines. The categories are listed, but the remainder is room to write.

And now the fun begins. I ask who wants to play the various roles: judge, bailiff, prosecuting and defense attorneys, defendants, jury, witnesses, audience. Because we play the game more than once, I keep track of who plays what and try to give everyone a chance to have a desired role. We go to the drama room to get props, set up the classroom like a courtroom, and away we go.

I have also prepared a script that helps with the structure of the event and I offer it here. Much of what happens is up to the teacher as far as guidance goes, and some is experience the class gets over time.


Bailiff:  Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the Honorable Judge __________________________
(judge comes in and sits down)

Bailiff:  The court of Eastview Middle School is now in session. Please be seated.

Judge:  Bailiff, please bring in the defendants. (Defendants are brought from hallway)

Bailiff:  Defendant, please stand.  Place your right hand on the textbook.  Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

After the defendant says, “I do.” the bailiff says, “You may be seated.” and then swears in the other

Judge:  Bailiff, please read the charge.

Bailiff:  The defendants are charged with first degree inattentiveness by failing to read/view and understand the story or film or novel or ____________________

Judge: Defendant, how do you plead? (Defendants always plead “Not Guilty.”)

Judge:  The prosecutors for the crown are _____________________________________________and

The defense attorneys are _____________________________ and ___________________________

Judge: Defense, you may examine the defendants.

(after examining the defendants), the judge asks: Does the defense wish to call any witnesses?

When the defense attorneys are finished . . .

Judge:  Prosecution may cross-examine the defendants

(after examining the witnesses), the judge asks: Does the prosecution wish to call any witnesses?

When the prosecuting attorneys are finished . . .

Judge:  Do the prosecutors wish to make any final remarks?

Judge:  Does the defense wish to make a closing statement?

When the prosecution and defense are finished

Judge:  Bailiff, please escort the defendants to the outer chamber.

Judge:  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please discuss the case and prepare your verdicts.

The jury then decides which of the defendants are innocent and which are guilty.  The foreman writes
the decisions on a piece of paper.

Judge:  Bailiff, please bring the defendants back to their seats.

Judge:  Foreman, have you reached a verdict.

Jury foreman reads the verdict for each defendant.

Judge passes the sentence depending on the verdicts

If the defendant is found innocent, the judge will say “You are free to go.”

If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will explain the sentence, then ask the bailiff to take the defendant(s) away.

Judge:  The Court of Eastview Middle School is adjourned.


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