With our school’s 80th trimester (ER 80) behind us, students recently found themselves preparing to present their individual Presentations of Learning (POLs).
Because students are not on campus with us due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these presentations were prepared from students’ homes and delivered virtually — much like the final month of classes and learning experiences of ER 80. This, of course, entails changes in how we’re structuring these presentations and honoring students’ work during this time.
As background for anyone unfamiliar with POLs, traditionally at the end of each trimester, students participate in a self-appraisal of their educational successes during the previous trimester. And they do so before a panel of teachers, administrators, community members and others interested in searching for evidence of learning from the students.
The Presentation of Learning serves as a rite of passage for all students, enabling them to make the case that they have absorbed and retained an abundance of learning in the preceding months. It’s not all about obtaining credits, but more a tool that allows students to take a pause in their learning, and then reflect, synthesize and analyze that learning.
There’s an air of excitement during POLs, with a notable increase in energy, anticipation, and celebration. In these changing times insofar as how we deliver the Eagle Rock experience, our staff aims to maintain this spirit across digital spaces while dignifying students’ accomplishments, as well as our most recent graduating students’ time at Eagle Rock coming to a close.
Here’s how POLs now work. Students who are not graduating this trimester, undergo a 15-minute oral presentation that details two major learnings from the trimester, backed by supporting artifacts such as visuals and completed projects. The idea is to demonstrate their application of the learning rather than just stating what they have learned.
Following their virtual presentation, the panel has 15 minutes to ask follow-up questions of the student. Graduating Eagle Rock students virtually shared their POLs in front of the entire Eagle Rock community — also online — during a 30-minute presentation, followed by another 30-minute Q&A session.
Now that all schoolwork is taking place online, we created three options for students to complete their POLs in ways that are accessible and realistic for their current situation:
- Option 1: Students completed a written reflection. Staff members then reviewed the documentation, and the student and staff participated in a video call for follow-up questions.
- Option 2: Students submitted a recorded video and which staff watched. Then the student and staff joined together over video conferencing for questions.
- Option 3: Students delivered in and complete a live Presentation of Learning online using video conferencing software, which included live Q&A for staff.
If you’re familiar with our history of POLs (read: Understanding Eagle Rock’s Presentations of Learning), word count of supporting materials and presentation lengths have been adjusted accordingly for non-graduates and graduates alike, and flexibility is always an option, with staff members taking into account each student’s unique situation.
The ultimate objective of our POL protocol remains the same —to support students in deep, intentional reflection of their trimester, especially since new lessons may arise for students as they are navigating virtual learning and observing a public health crisis as young adults.
To that end, we’ve kept equity at the forefront by offering a variety of ways for students to complete their Presentations of Learning. In the spirit of continuous growth, we will continue to learn from and refine practices for virtual POLs, as we prepare for a virtual summer trimester as part of our journey of reengaging youth in their own education.