The IB PYP Exhibition is all about the students. As the guidelines say, it’s an opportunity for students to demonstrate independence and responsibility and to engage in an in-depth inquiry. They also are able to take action as a result of their learning. It’s a celebration of students’ learning during their primary years in the IB.
At YIS, we start with a central idea: People’s beliefs and passion provoke and sustain their learning and creativity. And before we got into the nitty, gritty, we frontloaded videos (our students’ preferred medium) about passion and students broke down what passion really was.
Great videos from http://inspiremykids.com/ started us off. Through these videos, students were able to discern “What is passion?” This was a great video that got some dialectical thinking going.
Students’ thoughts on how they define passion:
- It’s something that starts small and gets bigger and more important
- It’s something you get better at it
- It’s challenging and makes you want to take on more challenges
- It’s something you practice a lot
- It’s something in which you persevere.
Once they had a working definition they created, students were able to able to start to differentiate their passions from their likes and loves. Borrowing from an idea from the New International School in Thailand, we created concentric circles of Like, Love, and in the center passion. Students thought about where their interests were.
We then called in our “mentors.” Mentors, who assist students during Exhibition are a heavily debated item in Exhibition. In the past, we didn’t like how mentors would advise the students one way and then we would advise another way, and it was a lot of back and forth for the students and us. Mentors were always hard to find–to convince–to help, and we didn’t see a lot of advantages.
Our brand of mentors became our passion speakers. We put a call out to the community of teachers, staff and parents to come in and give a short presentation about their passion. We had a great response. Parents who were artists, scrapbookers, and bikers came in. Teachers talked about their passion for salsa, traveling, surfing, reading and journeys. We asked students to zoom in on the speaker’s passion and why they continued to pursue it. We heard tales of passion but also action, of challenges, but perseverance. These were our mentors for the Exhibition.
After weeks of frontloading and speakers and hearing about passion and action, students were ready to dig in. It was hard to stop them. We set up endpoints and then checklists along the way to help guide the students. Students came up with their final passion, a real-world issue connected to it. They thought about how they would link it to a Japanese connection and thought about their burning question. We spent time on each point, so that student decisions were intentional and important.
And the weeks began to unfold. We set students up with checklists like the one below to help them work through the process. We set the room up as a workshop, and we all dug into Exhibition (with me, the teacher, learning just as much as the students along the way). Next: Part 3: PYP Exhibition: Documenting Work and Student Voices