For the first time ever, I didn't do the wonderwall during the first week of our new UOI. We completed all of the tuning in, investigated and did mini lessons surrounding all of our related concepts of governance, decision-making and citizenship. And for the first time ever, the quality of questions that found themselves on our wall were great. No students didn't want to ask something, and almost all of their questions connected to our central idea! I asked them to try and think personally, locally and globally and they had no problems. The rest of the unit is going to be filled with great inquiries!
'How the World Works' Exhibition
It's about the process, not the "product"
Here's how it looks like for us:
As a school, we are fairly new to the entire Exhibition scene (this is our 4th one), and every year we experiment with ways to do it better than the year before. It can be a very exhausting process for us teachers, but we legitimately walk away at the end of each Exhibition season think that we pulled off something bigger and better than the year before.
Our Exhibition takes place mostly over a two day period. On Wednesday, we have all parents, teachers and mentors come in at night. This year, we started in the auditorium where we essentially hand pick a few of our students to get up on stage and show something from a part of their process. Most kids shared parts of their action, their Think Tank presentations or another part of the process that they were proud of.
We then make the big move upstairs to the grade 5 hallways. The set up is fairly unique compared to what we have seen at other schools. Our main goals are to focus on the process and not on a product, which is why we go with the "tour guide model". The idea is that students will pair up with a parent, teacher or mentor and take them on a tour of their entire process. This involves them walking around the grade 5 hallways and stopping at different points along the way to show something off or to share.
Each section of the hallway is devoted to a part of the inquiry cycle, and it is almost entirely created by displaying student work. Although the teachers take care of creating the 'Tuning In' section, students are expected to have something to contribute to each other section (Finding Out, Sorting Out, Going Further, Making Connections, Taking Action). Some students display posters, keynote presentations, data they collected, interviews, models, art work, or anything else that was a part of their process.
The best thing about our Exhibition is that the entire "show" is like a conversation. Kids don't have to worry about standing beside a project and talking if and when someone stops by. They work is on display for all to see, and anyone giving a tour or going on a tour is free to stop and look at someone else's project together. This results are so much organic and it is just so amazing to see.
Every year, we have a handful of students that struggle throughout most of the Exhibition, and during old way of presenting Exhibition, these students just sort of needed to stand by a project that looked underwhelming compared to their classmates. People rarely stopped by to check out their work and they didn't usually have too much to say when standing beside their poster boards. With our Exhibition Tour model, these students are now so much more engaged and able to showoff the highlights of their own journey throughout the process. No one is just standing around, doing nothing.
The second day of our Exhibition, is for the students. This year we invited grades 3 and 4 to come up, as well as a few other grade 5 classes from other International Schools. We try and do this by having only one or two classes at a time, and each student is paired up with a grade 5 student, or, by pairing up pairs of kids. We really liked doing this this year because it allows for these other students to really get to understand the process and see how the Inquiry Cycle works. Of course, since the (other) students are in charge of the tour, they can also stop to look at other projects along the way. It is so amazing for us to see one of our grade 5 students talking about the projects that their classmates worked on.
After the big day(s),we kept our Exhibition displays for a week. This allowed for other grades to check them out as they wished, and also allowed for any parents to drop in if they weren't able to make it to the "show".
Friday is spent celebrating! We went to the park for the entire morning. We have our admin team leading games and activities while each teacher spends 5 minutes sitting down with each student individually going over the 'Exhibition Reflection'. Just in time for lunch, we head back to school where we have a ginormous picnic and barbecue. It truly is a fun and relaxing day, and a great way to end the week.
Obviously, there are a few things that we would change for next year. We felt a lot of students eventually got a bit away from our related concepts of Discovery and Innovation, as well as the overall science theme. Next year, we may try and introduce the related concepts (we might try some new ones) right at the beginning of the year, that way students are comfortable with them and the idea of science when the Exhibition roles around again!
Overall the Exhibition was a huge success! I'm sure the next one will be here in the blink of an eye!
Going Further + Taking Action!
We are really starting to see "Exhibition" coming together this week. We have finally gotten most of our kids to move beyond finding out. We spent a good bit of time reviewing with our students what it means to go further and what action looks like to different people. All teachers are in agreeance that this year, we might see some of the best action we have ever seen!
Some of the amazing things our students are working on this week include:
Another highlight of the week was on Tuesday, when we invited all grade 5 parents in to our classes to have an opportunity to experience the grade 5 Exhibition. We had about half of our students with one parent present, and many even had two. The feedback was amazing and it was such good timing. It really was helpful to have parents working with students during such a big decision making time (choosing ways to go further and take action).