PYP Exhibition: The Power of Formative Assessment

The power of formative assessment is one of the things I most like about the process of Exhibition. I’ve mentioned how we do it, but a bit more.

The IBPYP Exhibition is student-driven, and the teacher drops into a real facilitator role (as we should be all of the time). Of course, throughout the PYP, we should allow kids to drive their inquiry. They should embrace the transdisciplinary skills and IB Learner profile. However, the Exhibition makes it explicit, and it’s a great time to soak in students’ understanding.

So, as a teacher during the Exhibition, how do I gather all of this juicy information about the students?

IMG_4662I watch: Over the last few weeks, I take a lot of mental notes and write a lot of notes about how effectively the students organize themselves. Can they follow a checklist? Do they know what to do next? Do they continuously ask me for help? When they’re putting together their visual display, can they figure out how to make it neat? When it’s workshop time, are they focused when searching for information or are they playing games? Can they rise to the challenge of putting it all together–from research to writing to speaking to their i-movie? If not, where are they struggling?

I listen: What kinds of questions are they asking me or others? How are they talking with their friends in class? One student talks about how she wants to do her best and wonders why someone else is goofing off. When they talk about their passion and their real-life connection, do they know details? Can they support what they say? I listen to them on Voice Thread talking about their passion and what’s the big deal about it.

I record: I take a lot of pictures. I videotape them whenever I can. The other day I checked in to see how they were feeling. What made them excited and what concerned them about Exhibition. Even watching this, I can tell how well they are reflecting.

IBPYP Exhibition Voices from YIS Academics on Vimeo.

The Exhibition has helped remind me how we don’t need standardized tests to tell us how our students are doing. As good teachers, and I know more of them than I do poor teachers, we understand our students through our interactions with them. It’s formative assessment, anecdotal notes and keen observation. Our team of teachers are constantly evaluating how we’ll change things based on our students. We interact. We learn. Formative assessment drives us.

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