This week, my class of fifth and sixth graders began the culmination of their IB Primary Years journey, the Exhibition. A self-directed and collaborative project, it is my favorite part of the year and a deeply enjoyable challenge to facilitate.
Before setting out, I organized a meeting with all Exhibition stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, and administrators. We discussed everyone’s ideas, questions, and concerns in order to draft our Essential Agreements.
The Exhibition Guidelines provide clear expectations, which I have synthesized for the students to provide support for their projects. One helpful practice I have chosen is to clarify five required components of the project. Specifically, every student must choose a global issue, deliver a persuasive speech, write an expository essay, create a work of art, and engage in community action. Among our first activities was introducing the organizer below.
Each student has a shared Evernote notebook which functions as a portfolio. Throughout the year, we gather photos, audio reflections, links to blog posts, scanned work, etc. During Exhibition, I am particularly active trying to catch them in the act of deep learning. These artifacts will be extremely useful for them as they curate their documentation wikis.
To scaffold these reflections, we conduct weekly interviews which are uploaded to YouTube. The students are encouraged to include them in their reflections, but it is not required. I have some preplanned questions and we also plan questions together at the beginning of the week. Knowing the questions in advance helps us to have a similar perspective on our activities and helps them to speak and reflect more fluently.
The inquiry has also included researching the effects of music on brain development. After a brief coaching conversation, we agreed that the importance of Arts Education would be an ideal global issue around which her Exhibition can grow.
She rushed to complete the poster. Her work led to a frank discussion about aesthetics and time management and she decided to start over, taking more time to create a more visually appealing product.