After a marathon planning meeting this afternoon, where we finalized a few aspects of Exhibition and divvied up the many tasks that need to be completed, my to do list is heavier, but my heart is lighter. The team, which has experienced a few bumps in the road during the past few weeks, is starting to gel and the conversations that were previously focused on what we (the adults) wanted are now centered around students and what’s best for them and their learning. We’ve (loosely) mapped out the nine weeks of the process and now know where we’re headed.
I’m incredibly passionate about the PYP, and the Exhibition, which is the culminating project of the Primary Years Programme, is the pinnacle of the program. Students take ownership over their learning as they inquire into and research an issue they are passionate about. In addition to choosing their issue, there are many more aspects of the project that they have agency over, from who they work with (or whether they will work independently), how they will share their learning with the community, how they will take action, and many more!
We’re making a few major changes in the Exhibition at my school this year that excite me. To better support our students, each student will be assigned an advisor (one of the two Grade 5 teachers, Grade 5 intern, Librarian, or myself- the PYP Coordinator) to be their point person throughout the process. This reduces the ratio from 1:20 to 1:8, allowing us to be more in touch with each students’ progress so that we can provide more support through (at least) weekly one-on-one meetings. Additionally, each student will have a mentor to support them. In the past, mentors have worked with several students at once, but by providing them with a one-on-one person, they will receive more support. The role of the mentor is to offer advice, ask questions and provoke thinking, give feedback on the various components of the Exhibition, and celebrate the students’ learning along the way.
Another change is the introduction of workshops, where different teachers and support personnel will offer a variety of mini-lessons about different aspects of the Exhibition, focusing on their area(s) of expertise. Students will create their weekly schedules, deciding what they need to do and when and with whom to do it, based on their weekly checklists and deadlines. The will be given the choice to decide which workshops to attend, based on their needs. This will help develop their self-management skills.
Our Exhibition is under the transdisciplinary theme of How We Express Ourselves, so our students will be using this project to express themselves in whichever way(s) they choose. I can’t want to see what they come up with!
As I sit here reflecting on the Exhibition planning thus far, I am buzzing, excited about the incredible learning journey our Grade 5 students are about to embark upon. I wish I could have been a PYP student…this is the best way to learn!
If you are not at a PYP school and wondering what the heck an Exhibition is, feel free to visit my previous school’s PYP Exhibition website, which houses the students’ virtual Exhibition presentations, as well as a documentation of our inquiry journey. We are creating a similar website to house this year’s Exhibition, but it’s not finished yet.