Presentations of Learning at Da Vinci Schools
By Bianca Melara, Class of 2020
Presentations of Learning (known as POLs) are uncommon in most schools but are a tradition at all Da Vinci Schools. At the end of each semester, students in all grades complete a POL in which they demonstrate their growth over time and mastery of academic content in a formal presentation before a panel of their teachers and peers. As a signature practice at Da Vinci Schools, even our youngest students, kindergarten through eighth graders at Da Vinci Connect, “show what they know” in POLs once per year. POLs are being held now at all Da Vinci schools.
At the high school level, students create a presentation (approx. 12 minutes) using Google Slides and incorporate evidence that demonstrates their mastery of academic content and personal growth. Since it is a professional presentation, students are required to dress in business attire. POLs empower students to take ownership of their learning and show their teachers how they have improved over time. In preparation for POLs, students are given requirements on what content teachers want them to present. Da Vinci Schools have a project-based curriculum with lots of collaboration in groups, but POLs are presented by individual students without any group or pairings.
POLs help us improve our communication and public speaking skills. Many freshmen and transfer students are nervous approaching their first POL, but afterward, most students feel more secure and have a greater understanding of how POLs work, and look forward to improving the next time around. At the conclusion of the student’s presentation, their teachers ask questions and offer feedback and support for next steps.
At Da Vinci Connect, kids enter high school already proficient in using multimedia tools and communication strategies to present to a panel of their peers and teachers.
“POLs were nerve-wracking at first,” said Da Vinci Communications 11th grade student Ashley Gonzalez. “I was in a new school with new teachers and classes. When you have to dress professionally, it’s especially nerve-wracking. But the second time I did my POLs, I got an A and now I actually really enjoy POLs. I like to have the opportunity to deepen my mastery and show my teachers that I have grown in their classes.
Most upperclassmen are now used to presenting.
“At first I was very nervous to present especially when I was a freshman,” said DVC junior Hailey Reyes. “All of this was new to me, but with support from my teachers, I got the hang of it. I think POLs are a great opportunity to show your teachers how you’ve grown and to share all your strengths and weaknesses so you can improve on it in the upcoming years.”
(Bianca Melara is an 11th-grade student at Da Vinci Communications. She enjoys improving her communication skills and expanding her knowledge of the business world in her Strategic Communications class.)