Lit Comp 1 students eschew final exams for POMs

A new final project is going to replace the traditional Literature and Composition 1 final exam this year. In the “Presentation of Mastery” (POM), each student will create her own digital portfolio on Schoology. The portfolio will include revisions of the student’s best work of the year. By the end of the school year, each student will present her portfolio to her Literature and Composition I teacher, as well as her choice of a trusted adult in the Dana Hall community.

The Hallmanac spoke to English teacher Mr. Fred Lindstrom, who has been teaching the course for over a decade, about the Lit Comp 1 final project this year:

Hallmanac: How will the project benefit the Lit Comp 1 student this year?

Mr. Lindstrom: “I think that doing a final project will have less stress than an exam. Throughout the course of the academic year, each trimester the class will have a time to reflect on what they have done and how to improve and figure out what they are doing well. Students collect their best pieces of work to show mastery in certain skills. They can use examples, quotations as evidence, pick analytical essay, novels or even plays to show how they have improved. Each student will have their best pieces for each different assignment. The students will be putting everything together in trimester 3, and each student will be slowly building.”

Hallmanac: Why did you choose a project instead of the typical exam?

Mr. Lindstrom: “This will be more valuable for the students. It will be cool to show off what you did well and have each person have their personal best piece of work. I also like it because the English teachers will have a stronger relationship with the student than just the grade. For example, the teacher won’t think of the student as a C+ student because the teachers would’ve seen her work and talk to her about what she can approve upon much more. We’re looking for an authentic learning experience. It also relieves stress around the final exam period, which is always great!

Hallmanac: Will it change every year? And in the future will it just be for 9th grade or for all Literature and Composition classes?

Mr. Lindstrom: “The final project is an experiment for this year. I have faith that there will be success in it, and hopefully it will be continued for every 9th grade class as well as other Literature and Composition upperclassman classes in the future. Honestly, I think it should happen every year. The student will learn to make improvements, and the English department is imitating studio presentation. The goal is to push writing to the step and level with a positive critique.”

Mr. Lindstrom added, “Writing is closer to an art than to a science.”

Hallmanac: How do you think incoming and past Lit Comp 1-ers will react to a final project instead of an exam?

Mr. Lindstrom: “Once freshmen understand what the final project is asking and they have figured it out, it will change a lot of things. I will see more relaxed students. Outgoing students like presentations, but shy students might be more worried about the final project. One of the many goals is to get the students to present more.”

Mr. Lindstrom adds that this portfolio will be kept on Schoology, and works can be added to it even after Literature and Composition I ends. For example, it may be useful for providing writing samples to colleges. The Lit Comp I teachers will reassess the strengths and weaknesses of this pilot year program this summer and may make changes for future years.

Photo credit: Stephanie Zhao.

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