The very first Exhibition

This month marks the beginning of the very first go at the PYP Exhibition at Prairie Waters. Before we even had our authorization visit in October, and finding out that we had been authorized in November, we decided at the beginning of the year that we would make our first attempt at the Exhibition this year.

I’ve been spending many evenings and weekends trying to learn as much as I can from others about how they go through the Exhibition process with their students, and figuring out how best to integrate some of those ideas into our first Exhibition to make it as successful for everyone as possible. I can’t go any further without expressing my appreciation for the connections and support that I’ve gotten from my PLN all around the world, related to all things #pypx. From the Google Plus PYP Exhibition group, to the many experienced and knowledgeable PYP educators on Twitter (#pypchat is a lifesaver!), to the other PYP schools that are geographically close to us, to those that blog about the Exhibition process at their schools, with their kids – I have gained so much knowledge and inspiration from all of them, that I can’t imagine being on this journey without giving them the huge THANK YOU that they deserve!

Because this is our first foray into Exhibition, our grade 5 teachers felt that for this year, they needed to choose the Transdisciplinary Theme (How We Express Ourselves) as well as the Central Idea (Passions and beliefs inspire people to action). We intend to start ‘planting the seed’ with our grade 4’s this year, so that we can branch out and have the students create the central idea next year. The unit itself begins on March 31, but starting tomorrow, we begin tuning in to the idea of Exhibition with our grade 5’s. So here’s the plan for the lead up:

  • Share the PYP Exhibition guidelines with the students (written in this Prezi in student-friendly language) – pre-empting this discussion to focus students in on the key concepts of Form (what is Exhibition?), Function (how does the Exhibition work?),  Connection (how does the Exhibition connect to other things you have done?) and Causation (why is the Exhibition the way it is?)
  • Introduce the Central Idea and our Prairie Waters’ PYP Exhibition blog (on this blog, there are links to different resources for our students to access to explore issues or topics that may be of interest to them, as well as to assist them with research once they begin delving deeper into their inquiries later on)
  • Work through the Compass Points Visible Thinking Routine with each grade 5 class to get a pulse check on their beginning understandings, hesitations and ideas about Exhibition.

Once we’ve kickstarted their thinking about Exhibition, we’ll have them brainstorm some ideas to some prompting questions (Thank you Kristen Blum (@namastececi) for the idea to do this! Your blog is such a fantastic resource!)

  1. How do people express or share their ideas?
  2. How do we discover new ideas?
  3. What kinds of ideas are we most likely to express?
  4. Why do people find it important to express their ideas or passions?

Throughout the next few weeks, we’ll have students (and teachers, and myself!) bringing in ideas, issues, passions, topics, etc. to share with the class as we generate a gallery for all of them to contribute to. This will assist students as they try to sort out which topic, or issue they would like to take up for their Exhibition inquiry.

Our next step will be to explore good questioning. By focusing on questioning conceptually, we will assist the students in generating deeper, more thoughtful, open-ended questions. Using the Visible Thinking Routine of Question Starts, we’ll get students practicing creating questions about a shared topic. Once questions are generated, we can then sort them using the Visible Thinking Routine of Question Sorts, where students can explore both the genuineness and the generativeness of their questions. Sonya terBorg also shared a great document that provides students with each of the Key Concepts, their definitions and then some samples of those types of conceptual questions from each of the different subject areas. We will practice generating questions, and then sorting them into the concepts which they fit within.

All of this work will lead up to Week 1 of our Exhibition Unit, where students will have chosen their passion or issue to explore, and then begin developing their questions to guide their inquiry.

The excitement begins! Wish us luck!

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