Exhibition: Thinking about the Grit

What’s behind the PYP Exhibition? We get carried away in details, organization, guiding students, modeling that we often forget what it’s all about. This week, I had some hard questions from a parent, still new to the PYP, that made me rethink why we do this thing we call Exhibition.

IMG_7083Besides being a requirement of the PYP, Exhibition, I believe, is really about the skills, attitude and learner profile. There’s no way students at this age will be able to be an expert on their issue, whatever it is. They have a better chance if it’s something they are passionate about, but expert level? No.

This is what I want to express to that parent and what I want to remember. Knowledge is just one of the 8 thinking skills. And there are social skills, communication skills, self-management skills and research skills. Then there’s the attitudes and learner profile that help our learning.

We prepared for our student-led conferences the other day by mapping out examples of how students had shown the different skills and how they had exhibited the learner profile and attitudes. We chose a few skills to focus on as to not overwhelm everyone.

Students then shared this Exhibition learning map with their parents. I wanted the parents to understand the process and not just the information and the big “Wow” at the end of the journey.

IMG_7129While students completed their maps and talked about it, they realized they had been doing a lot. From organizing their thoughts and their entire process (some on Google Drive, some in folders) to managing their time so they could complete their weekly goals, they realized they had been working hard. They thought about how they had communicated orally and in writing and speaking during their interviews. They understood that researching was not just about the information but on how they found that information. They had to ask questions, plan, collect, record and organize all of their data.

A lot of them highlighted a lot of learner profiles and attitudes that they have exhibited. They’re doing well. They are some pretty confident 10-11 year olds and reflecting on their Exhibition process has reaffirmed that they’re doing pretty well.

So, what’s Exhibition all about?

Skills. Attitude. Learner profile. Reflect. Celebrate.

Here’s what one of my students wrote in his essay (completely independently).

In the end, I think it doesn’t matter what happens. I think it was most important to use my research skills and be able to prove that I have all of the PYP learner profiles and commitment to do my research. Now I think I will go and try and spread awareness about trams. So someday my small project could spread around the globe.

He has said it exactly. Exhibition: A big project with a lot of grit.


6 thoughts on “Exhibition: Thinking about the Grit

  1. Love your blog and I just returned to fifth grade after teaching the primary grades for the last 12 years. So it is my first year with Exhibition. I also feel that Exhibition is more about empowering students with their learning and focusing on the leaner profile, skills and attitudes. It is easy to get caught up in the “products” created instead of the process. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Nice to hear from you. I took a look at your blog and saw your Exhibition posts as well. Always great to see how others are doing it. When is your Exhibition finale? Our final presentation is April 24th and 25th.

      On Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 12:22 PM, Solid Ground wrote:


  2. I know I ask so much of you already but can you elaborate more on what the map looked like for the conferences? I am wanting something for conferences to tie all this together and I think this is it!

    • Sonya: I made it up, you can probably do a better job at the map. I took the trans skills (some of them), left some spaces so they could write examples. I put up a learner profile/attitude tree and had them highlight. I typed up their 3 big questions as statements or inquiry lines, along with the central idea. They worked on coming up with examples of how they had been communicators and exhibited research skills (for example) during class. Then, they shared with their parents.

  3. Yet another terrific post, Kristen. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m really trying to focus and re-focus the students back to the idea of the process. They can get so caught up in what the product will be, and how grandiose is can be, that it stresses them out and overwhelms them. It’s more about them demonstrating those elements of the PYP that’s important, and what difference (big or small) they make is simply the result of that. Always a great reminder to read about again!

  4. Just discovered your blog, and I am lovin’ it! Thank you for taking the time to create such an honest and in depth reflection of your exhibition experience. We are in the throws of starting our second exhibition and after reading your blog I am thinking we will facilitate more…..as the students define their central ideas. Last year the students wrote their own, three actually as we had three 4th grades. This year we have four. It was an exciting process but it took a long time. Good luck with your exhibition. I look forward to your future blogs.

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