Tuesday, 02 June 2015 13:05

Empowering Students through the Grade 5 PYP Exhibition

The theme for this year’s PYP exhibition was The Arts Are a Powerful Tool for Activism.

A new approach was adopted, which required the students to engage in a variety of in-depth inquiries to identify and connect their passion to the arts. This approach also promoted the active involvement of the teachers and specialists to help students prepare for the Exhibition.

The goal of the Exhibition was to help students demonstrate knowledge and skills through the process of investigating, planning, and taking action. In addition, the students developed their organizational, collaborative, cooperative, problem-solving, conflict resolution and critical thinking skills. Students had the opportunity to celebrate and showcase learning acquired during their elementary school years. It was also a time for our community to recognize and appreciate their hard work, effort and commitment, while demonstrating independence and responsibility during this personal and challenging endeavor. Students were encouraged to self-reflect and document their thinking throughout the process in their creative process journals.

The students chose a variety of topics through personal connection or strong interest and these included: Human rights, Environment, Health, Music, Role of the Arts, Animal testing and Rights, Interactions, Technology, Space travel, Legos, Sports, Learning and Food. Within these topic groups each student selected a deeper issue to focus on such as food waste, STEM education for girls, e-readers and impact on health, Lego therapy, sportsmanship, social media and technology, litter in space, healthy eating for kids, sweatshops and music therapy.

This year, the Exhibition was enriched by the addition of many new elements such as the passion pitch, the X- Factor and the speech contest where students were given many opportunities to practice their speaking and presenting skills. Furthermore, students developed a Research Based Argument Essay, in learning how persuasion is a powerful tool to make a difference. The thesis theme of the essay was intended to promote thinking and persuade the reader.

Students were encouraged to take action in a variety of ways. Many chose to take action by raising awareness for their causes through documentary films, websites, videos, YouTube uploads, brochures, petitions and writing informative books. Others wrote persuasive letters, visited nursing homes, orphanages and maternal centers where they volunteered their time.  Many students made personal changes by putting recycling bins in their compound, convincing their parents not to use products in their household that are tested on animals and boycotting factory chickens within their family.  The arts were used through a variety of medians such as Collage, Picture Books, Comics, Documentaries, Paintings, Water Color, Insulation Art and Sculptures. Some students applied Visual Metaphors to their piece of art and lyrics to songs.

At the culminating event, students were required to demonstrate their understanding of activism by sharing and presenting their projects to the community. This was done through displays on bulletin boards, PowerPoint presentations, video displays and artwork. It was evident to all the attendees who watched the students speak with power and conviction, that the students certainly developed and enhanced their cognitive, affective and social-emotional capacity through engagement in the Exhibition.

The PYP Exhibition can be summed up through the words of some student reflections…

  • “Exhibition was a journey and a celebration of learning- a celebration of me as a learner, a student, and a global citizen.” -  Ingrid
  • “Exhibition helped me inquire and get information about my topic, but also led me into knowing more about myself.” -  Ana
  • “Exhibition was a challenge but an amazing experience to work hard and have fun at the same time.” -  McKenna
  • “Exhibition has taught me to be more responsible and independent with my learning skills such as searching for new resources.” - Maria
  • “I have also learned how powerful art can be to raise awareness about something.” - Ilinca
  • “Exhibition was a journey in which I found a lot about my topic, but not just that, I found out a lot about myself more than I could ever imagine!” – Fabian
  • “I learned a lot during exhibition. It was a lot about my topic, but I also found out about myself. What I really cared about and what I was really passionate about.” - Clara.

This was a wonderful experience for the students as they learned the true meaning for the value of coming together collaboratively to tackle a real-world problem by using their collective insights, expertise, talents and interests to take action in making a difference in the world. Without a doubt, the PYP Exhibition has not only provided the students with the opportunity to showcase their learning but also the opportunity to share their passion with their peers and the entire community. The hope is that the action students took during the PYP Exhibition will extend beyond the life of the Exhibition in helping to prepare them as responsible future global citizens.

Janice Myles, Elementary Service Learning Coordinator AISB, 2015