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Project Essentials: in XONR8, 11th graders are helping to free wrongfully-convicted prisoners

In this episode, Alec talks to Mackenzie King, a teacher at High Tech High Chula Vista whose students are screening applications to the California Innocence Project from prisoners who say they were wrongfully convicted and want the Innocence Project to take their case.

Alec talked to Mackenzie about how she got the idea for the project, how she built a relationship with the California Innocence Project, and how she helps students to do professional-level work with the highest possible stakes. He also talked to two students, Sofia and Gavin, about what the project was like for them.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher

Table of Contents

1:29 What the California Innocence Project does, and how XONR8 helps them

2:17 XONR8: the project in a nutshell

3:31 XONR8: Origins (how Mackenzie came up with the idea for it)

5:15 How XONR8 starts: deciphering autopsy reports

6:17 Gavin & Sofia on figuring out the autopsy reports

7:48 Step 2: the whole class looks at a case file together

8:23 Step 3: the students get assigned a real case file

9:38 How Mackenzie makes groups and decides how to assign cases

10:40 Gavin and Sofia on how it felt to get their case files

12:04 Structures for project-management within groups

12:58 Sofia and Gavin on how well their groups worked together

14:09 The low point of the project for Sofia and Gavin

15:43 The verdict that Gavin’s group reached

16:07 The verdict that Sofia’s group reached

16:54 Preparing to present to the Innocence Project lawyers

17:27 Giving the presentations

19:26 High Tech High students are better prepared and better presenters than the law students

20:13 Differentiating for kids who struggle with reading

20:59 The other part of the project: Reading Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson

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