As we continue our journey into the PYP Exhibition, we are venturing into some bigger issues. As our central idea is all about how our passions inspire and sustain our learning, we’ve been wondering how to branch out into bigger ideas. As the Exhibition guidelines state, students need to investigate an issue of significant importance. Unfortunately, what I’ve found that often happens in Exhibitions is that students are in over their heads. They’re in Japan investigating child slavery. The students the first year I started in grade 5 were researching terrorists and excited by them. One group was raising money for the US army. They were in way over their heads.
We then swung to the personal side where students were exploring their passion. After several years of students presenting information about gymnastics, basketball, Lego, we thought about the “so what”? This year, we’re heading out from their personal interest into something bigger.
To get there, we’re starting with our parents. As a parent of an Exhibition student last year, I realized that my daughter needed my help getting to something bigger. She was researching chocolate and finding out about how it was made, which was fun. We then started looking at videos of where chocolate came from, which did lead to some child slavery research and fair trade chocolate. She became aware of the politics surrounding chocolate.
I do believe that 10-11 year-olds can dig deeper but they don’t know all the issues that us wizened folks have been exposed to. So, we invited our parents in during our introductory parent evening to have a conversation with their child about their interest. Our next step was to ask parents to brainstorm with their child over the weekend about bigger topics.
Mind Maps Rolling In
The mind maps are now beginning to roll in. After some modeling with students last week, along with the EAL support teacher facilitating an inquiry into some mind mapping programs, students and parents have started their brainstorms.
They’re using MindMeister and MindMup on Google Drive. I was worried about teaching them both programs, but here’s where they are the wizened ones. I gave them some time to play with the programs before the weekend, and they had it figured out. They have the option of completing it by hand as well. What’s important is the conversation.
Next week, we’ll take a look at their mind maps, do some reflecting about the conversation with their parents, and then start narrowing down their ideas so they can write some lines of inquiry. We’ll see how it works, but I’m hopeful we’re off to a good start. Our parents want to be involved, and we don’t want them doing the work for their kids, but helping them to dig deeper seems like a logical thing where they can help.
How do you use parents in the Exhibition?