Hacking Final Exams: AP Lang Showcase

WE DID IT!!!!!! First semester is just about over, now all that is left our final exams! Which also means that we finished a full semester of our AP Lang Collab course!!! (Lot’s of exclamation points tonight because I’m super happy!)

Today was our “final exam” for our class, but rather than a typical sit down test, we presented a trailer video, each gave a 10 minute talk, and had a gallery walk for people to learn, ask questions, and give feedback about our bookshelf, feedback and assessment, and logistics for the course.

This all took a lot of work to plan for and I’m just really happy with how it went. I know I’ve learned a lot this semester and I don’t need a number grade to prove that to me. The feedback we got today about how impressed everyone was with our showcase just further solidified that for me.

It also made me think comparatively about how other classes give their final exams. One of the things I’ve realized is that myself and other students know a lot. More than we think we know probably. The part that makes things difficult is a matter of if we are asked the right questions.

Learning is a process. Not everyone will have the same takeaways all of the time, but everyone will take away something.

With most final exams all students are expected to have had the same takeaways, and there isn’t much room for students to just say “this is what I have learned and taken away from this course so far.”

I wonder how final exams would be if things were more flipped like what we did with our exam, so rather than a teacher saying, “This is what I want for an answer because this is what I know we’ve talked about,” a student was able to showcase to a teacher or larger audience, “This is what I want you to ask me about because this is what I’ve learned.”

In AP Chemistry today we talked about how there can often be many different answers to questions because everyone has a different logic behind how they answer it. If you are able to clearly explain your reasoning, you should get some credit is the philosophy we have in that class.

I really connected with this since it’s related to why we didn’t take a standard final exam for AP Lang. We wanted to celebrate our work and communicate what we’ve learned with others and then let them ask us questions.

Plus we recorded it! So now, without further ado, because it is still finals week and I need sleep, here are our  MoVe Talks from earlier today about our experience so far in AP Lang:




And with the first day of finals arriving tomorrow, it is in my tradition to say this every year (actually I have a surprising amount of posts about final exams.):

It is time once again, for that time of the year has come, where I must sing this song for the next week and some.

(To the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but without writing all of the versus out.)

On the twelfth day of finals my teachers have to me

12 multiple choice

11 fill in the blanks

10 matching questions

9 short answer

8 days of prep

7 different essays

6 days for teachers


4 hours of sleep

3 sheets of paper

2 number two pencils

And 1 really long annoying test

Now all through the night

Some people will still study

So before I part,

A merry finals to all

And to all crammers

Good luck, and good night!



5 thoughts on “Hacking Final Exams: AP Lang Showcase

  1. Hi Anya,
    Sorry that I was not able to attend the Showcase. I hope that we’ll be able to continue the discussion over time. I’m curious about how you two have handled the AP course’s General Learning Objectives (see below). Are you finding that you’re getting feedback on these particular skills?

    Analyze and interpret samples of purposeful writing, identifying and explaining an author’s use of rhetorical strategies.
    Analyze images and other multimodal texts for rhetorical features.
    Use effective rhetorical strategies and techniques when composing.
    Write for a variety of purposes.
    Respond to different writing tasks according to their unique rhetorical and composition demands, and translate that rhetorical assessment into a plan for writing.
    Create and sustain original arguments based on information synthesized from readings, research, and/or personal observation and experience.
    Evaluate and incorporate sources into researched arguments.
    Demonstrate understanding of the conventions of citing primary and secondary sources.
    Gain control over various reading and writing processes, with careful attention to inquiry (research), rhetorical analysis and synthesis of sources, drafting, revising/rereading, editing, and review.
    Converse and write reflectively about personal processes of composition.
    Demonstrate understanding and control of Standard Written English as well as stylistic maturity in their own writing.
    Revise a work to make it suitable for a different audience.

    I see that you’ve been reading contemporary writing on education and I feel like I have to suggest Paulo Freire, who was a Brazilian educator and philosopher. His perspective may push your thinking.

    Thanks for sharing and including us in the discussion.

    1. Hi Dr. Peterson, it stinks that you weren’t able to make it to our showcase, but thank you for your comment and I’d love to chat more sometime.

      I do believe we have been getting feedback in terms of the AP Lang course objectives as well as our own objectives which we believe take things further than even the AP requirements in some ways. In fact, today Kat and I spent what would be our final exam time to individually go through the AP Lang objectives and annotate them to see what things we believe we definitely have done really well with working on in class and where we could still improve in terms of course work/design.

      We also spent part of today working on how to translate the feedback we’ve been receiving so far into a letter grade, since we still need one for our transcript, which we learned today that we needed to do because it came up in conversations at our showcase. Part of how we did this was by designing a cumulative rubric and giving each other personalized feedback on our work this year.

      Before this Friday (likely tomorrow), I will be posting a blog entry with further details about how we did this and what the outcomes were, but I hope this at least starts to answer your question.

      And thank you for the reading suggestion, we are always looking for reading suggestions! (Especially those that challenge our beliefs if you have any of those to suggest.)

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