Students recently showed off their skills at the annual International Baccalaureate (IB) Exhibition. For fourth grade students at Kujawa Elementary School, this is a “rite of passage.”
The Exhibition marks the conclusion of the Primary Years Program (PYP). The IB learners are set to transition to the Middle School Years Program. The Exhibition is also a celebration of students’ learning.
Students begin the PYP curriculum at Kujawa EC/PK Center. IB teachers introduce preschoolers to the five essential elements of the PYP. Learners continue to develop the PYP elements and skills at the elementary campus.
The Exhibition also serves as a demonstration to the community of what it means to be a PYP student. Students get to share their projects and their passions.
In the final year of the PYP, the Exhibition represents one of the students’ units of inquiry. The IB program requires students to engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process. The project involves identifying, investigating, and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems. The student-centered Exhibition has students conduct individual and group research.
Diploma Program (DP)
Eisenhower High School
Unlike other units of inquiry in the PYP, in the Exhibition it is students – not teachers – who lead. Student head the planning, development, and presentation of their work. The initial discussions for the Exhibition begin several months before. As a first step, fourth grade students work together to pick the theme. Classes also collaborate and bond as they brainstorm ideas.
These are student-led projects. Again, students on a small-group basis choose topics and create whose topics and formats. Based on these student-selected topics, small groups are formed. In essence, there is one separate Exhibition per small group of students.
Teachers and students do collaborate. They work together to determine a focus area. This year’s selection was “Sharing the Planet.” Throughout the process, teachers act as mentors. They help keep the students focused on a plan of action to develop their Exhibition. Teachers and Exhibition mentors provide support. Teachers help students find and connect with resources, conduct research and organize their ideas. They work with students to find the best ways to present their findings to the Kujawa community. The teacher mentors check on work accomplished, provide suggestions for research and development. The educators also help the students to not become overwhelmed.
Linda Johnson sees the Exhibition as a mutually rewarding for students and educators. Johnson is the IB coordinator at Kujawa.
“The Exhibition is a major project for students,” said Johnson. “Students focus on issues that are relevant. They have to research, reflect and develop solutions to real-life issues. These issues start with a student’s personal interest or passion.
“The issues may have global or local significance. More importantly, these are issues the students want to learn more about. As an educator, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing students excited about learning.”
Many causes captured students’ hearts. Topics included saving the coral reefs, the dangers of poaching and the importance of recycling.
Each group creates a presentation that is informative and creative. From year-to-year the form that the actual presentation takes may change. The creative component can be anything the students can come up with. The bottom line, they have to express their knowledge and new understandings.
“Students were responsible for identifying a central idea,” said Johnson. “They developed concept questions about their issue or topic. They conducted in-depth research to explore the many perspectives. And they produced a final project. This included songs, blogs, videos, brochures, PowerPoint presentations and more.”
According to the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), the Exhibition is a significant event. It is the culminating Unit of Inquiry in the PYP. Students integrate the five essential elements and transdisciplinary skills of the PYP. These are at the heart of the work students have been doing in the PYP.
[caption id="attachment_30999" align="alignright" width="370"] Ester Olivo, Faith Gonzalez Alyssa Smith and Faith Tucker presented on wildlife. They focused on giant pandas, which are an endangered species.[/caption]
The students then share their work with the school community. It is an opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB Learner Profile. The students apply their learning from previous years. Students also show independence and responsibility for their learning.
The IB learners could focus on one of the following facets of inquiry (research and study):
Representatives from IB World Schools in Aldine ISD were present. They shared information about the Middle Years Program and Diploma Program. District level representatives that attended the Exhibition included Mable Holt and Olivia Boatner. Holt is the assistant superintendent who oversees middle schools. Boatner is the magnet and IB program director.
“The students did a great job,” said Holt. “Hats off to everyone at Kujawa.“
IB educators from other school districts also attended the event. Jennifer Moore left impressed by the event. Moore is from Harvard Elementary School in Houston ISD. She is the IB and gifted and talented (GT) coordinator.
“The Kujawa IB Exhibition had an impressive number of presentations,” said Moore. “The students were passionate about their presentations and confident. I couldn’t believe they were only fourth graders. Their enthusiasm was infectious and my seven-year-old son really enjoyed himself. The presentations were interactive and engaging. I also appreciated the presence of the mentors. The students seemed truly grateful for the help they had received from their mentors.”
The Exhibition also serves as a final assessment. This takes two forms. It’s an ongoing assessment of each individual student in the PYP. And it is a summative assessment and reflection on the Exhibition itself.
“From the start, we told students to pick a topic that they were passionate about,” said Johnson. “By the end, the students learn that just one person with one idea is able to stand up and make a change to benefit others.
“It’s thrilling to see students so passionate about important issues. They impressed everyone with how confidently they articulated their thoughts. They presented solid arguments to support their causes. They showed their understanding of their subject matter. It is always a joy to see how eager the students are to share their knowledge.
“Honestly, it is impressive what students take out of the PYP program. I believe this is one of the top reasons why parents send their children to the IB Program.”
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