Exhibition Training Part 1
So I’m back at Prince Alfred College in the last week of the mid year break, doing my second PYP Workshop for the year. The Exhibition Category 2 workshop is giving me and my colleague Jill some formal training on how the exhibition fits into the PYP and ultimately, year 5 at St Andrew’s School. This post is intended to act as a record of my notes and take aways from the course.
Beginning the day I felt confident and exited about the exhibition. Despite not facilitating it before, I am familiar enough with it through observing it at the school over the past three years. As a mentor to exhibition students and a colleague to facilitators, I feel an association with the exhibition that gives me sufficient knowledge to know that there is still a lot I don’t know. Our workshop leader Doug shared this little gem with us to illustrate the concept
So what do I know I know and know I don’t know? I’m the red marker in the corner
So while I’m truly a novice at this, I’m a confident one!
IB standards and practices
The structure of this workshop has developed through examining aspects of the PYP itself and viewing the Exhibition in light of them. First up was the IB Standards and Practices. Looking at these through the lens of the Exhibition showed us that the Exhibition incorporates all the standards and practices, and that all the standards and practices are necessary in order for the Exhibition to run smoothly. A conclusion was drawn that the Exhibition acts like somewhat of an assessment for the school. If the school runs the PYP successfully, then the students will be able to successfully complete the Exhibition. This is obviously a very broad statement, but is one that reflects the links between the two ideas.
These guidelines refer to Organising the Exhibition, the Roles of various parties in the school, Collaboration of students, Staging the Exhibition and the use of ICT. The key word here is guidelines. A misconception I had about the Exhibition is that there were a lot of rules and ‘have tos’ surrounding it. The only thing in the standards and practices is that it happens in the final year, and that resources need to be allocated to it. Everything else is at the discretion of the school. That is, whatever works best for the school, given its context. So things like level of teacher guidance, method of grouping students, the time of the year it is held etc are all at the discretion of the school.
My big take away came from the Exhibition handbook, in the form of the following table, which outlines the manner in which the exhibition unit differs from regular units.
Curriculum for the future – reading comprehension, information search and retrieval, mechanism to believe. This ending from Sugata Mitra resonates with me. Information literacy is paramount for children. Without knowing future contexts of society, this core, stripped down skill will be needed by today’s children and will be shaped by them as necessary.
What does this mean for the children currently undertaking the exhibition? Students searching for and finding information independently and then organising that information in their own way is core to the process of the exhibition. Also the role of the teacher in the exhibition matched the idea of the teacher facilitating higher levels of learning, not focussing on discreet skills. I question though, the ability of students at this age being self motivated enough to persist with research without significant scaffolding by a teacher. In high school perhaps students will have a desire to become discerning with information, but in primary school, students still need to be guided through the process. So, the role of the teacher in the exhibition really seems to be one of supporting the students as necessary, givingq them the best chance of success as possible.
The PYP has 5 essential organising elements – knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action. Discussion of how these relate to the exhibition brought up a burning question for me: How do we as a school treat the 5 elements equally?
When dovetailing the PYP and the Australian Curriculum, we fit content into the transmissible nary themes ( knowledge) then apply the concepts and then the skills and attitudes get ‘tacked on’ where they fit in. Ideally, skills and attitudes should be just as important as the concepts and the transdisciplinary themes. Our workshop leader remarked that it would be appropriate to let the students decide what concepts skills and attitudes they wanted to use in their exhibition. I agree with this as it would allow true autonomy over learning, as long as the students are equipped with the ability and knowledge of these to apply them appropriately. This speaks again to the school working towards the exhibition f rom reception. A year 2 teacher should be teaching confidence and thinking with the aim that the student will need to be fully versed in these skill and attitude by the time they get to the exhibition on year 5. Again, the exhibition truly is an assessment of how well the PYP works at a school.
So to make sure nothing is missed? Elements need to be spread evenly over the other 5 units to ensure students are able to select the ones that suit their inquiry, whilst ensuring everything is covered throughout the course of the year. This is one I’ll put on the shelf for now…
I’ll post parts 2 & 3 on Days 2 & 3.