From Greg Pearce, PYP Co-ordinator and Y5/6 Team Leader, Selwyn House School
So our Selwyn House Year 6 Exhibition is finished for another year. And just as in previous years, I am excited, motivated, a little tired and relieved, but mostly seriously impressed by the skills, attitudes and knowledge displayed by our girls throughout this term-long inquiry.
What is an Exhibition? As a PYP School (Primary Years Programme) of the IB (International Baccalaureate), Selwyn House commits to undertaking an Exhibition in the final year of our girls’ primary school learning journey.
“The exhibition represents a significant event in the life of a PYP school and student, synthesizing the essential elements of the PYP, and sharing them with the whole school community. It is an opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the learner profile that have been developing throughout their engagement with the PYP.”
“Students are required to engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems.”
Primary Years Programme Exhibition Guidelines 2007
From these guidelines, a couple of things jump out that drive this process, contributing much to its success…
- collaborative – our girls must work in groups – not matter how much some of them may want to ditch their colleagues and ‘go it alone’ part way through the process! The development of social skills, the ability to collaborate, listen to others, draw ideas together and find consensus within your group – skills that will hopefully remain with the girls long after this process is over.
- transdisciplinary (you won’t find that word in a dictionary anywhere!) – the Exhibition must encompass different subject areas or disciplines – this year for us ranging from Literacy and Numeracy in all their many forms, to the Arts, Science, Technology and Health.
- inquiry – identifying, investigating and offering solutions. At Selwyn House we use Kathy Short’s Inquiry Cycle as a means of structuring our inquiries.
The 2014 Exhibition this year linked back to the central idea, “Creating and responding to the Arts develops understanding of ourselves and others.” Our girls built on the concept of “Artists in Residence” and decided that they were aiming for some kind of presentation at the end of the process where the community could come in and watch them working as artists in their chosen field, talk to them about what they had learned, watch some demonstrations and even take part on some art-making themselves.
And so the term began. From some well chosen video clips to get the girls thinking about how people express themselves, to a whiteboard covered in all the different art forms we could find in one afternoon of mad and frantic you tube searching, the girls narrowed their focus, finding other girls whose interests they could connect with. Result - 6 groups with 6 different pathways – photography, interior design, cake decorating, special effects, wearable arts, puppetry – and a September 10th deadline.
Cue 6 awesome weeks of researching – ‘how do we know whether what someone is saying on the internet is true? – finding different perspectives, locating experts from the local community. The growing realisation from myself and our Library teacher that for most of these girls, this was the first time they had had to call someone on the phone that wasn’t their family. The girls taking responsibility for organising their trips, with parent transport, permission slips and EOTC forms in duplicate! Sorting and categorising the information gathered, looking for similarities and differences, trends and outliers, all the time learning a lot about the skills necessary to function in a group.
Finally, the sharing with our school community. Thinking about how to organise the space, how to get the audience involved and how to cope with the stress of the laminator/sewing machines/hot glue guns breaking down at the eleventh hour! Practise sessions with our speech and drama teacher focusing on communicating our learning effectively, and reflections on what the girls had learned about themselves as learners because of this process..
Some of my favourite quotes:
Never ever in your life put Latex Rubber on your neck, it hurts to pull it off.
I found that I am a better speaker than I thought I was and now I am looking forward to speaking to all the parents and also found that I’m more of a leader than I was at my old school.
I find it hard to work when we are just cruising. I like having a little bit of pressure, but not too much. That keeps me motivated.
I found out that my group skills are quite good and that I am very flexible and that if I have a little bit of pressure I will work to the best I can be.
An epic term – and for me, a reminder of the power of true student led inquiry. Roll on Exhibition 2015!