Together with our students we worked for 41 school days on a journey of inquiry.
There are many words I could use to describe the experience of being a class teacher with Grade 5 students who are 'doing Exhibition'; but now as I reflect on the process, interactions and staging, just one word comes to mind - 'amazing'.
To have the opportunity to work with a large number of students who are all on a quest to inquire into something that really matters, something that they passionately believe in the 'So What?' is really quite an amazing feeling. The energy that comes from conversations, interactions and their excitement, frustration and challenges is really tangible.
Our students collaborate and communicate; they create individual working offices; they work on independent inquiries; they manage themselves as 11 year olds do, with support and robust structures that are part of the learning environment. They discuss their research, challenge one another to dig deeper, to push further, to do more in the quest to get to 'So What?'
Watching students checking in with each other, following up on conversations, sharing resources and contacts, making suggestions, connections, giving feedback and feedforward whether it was asked for, or not: is where the magic starts. Knowing that these students are applying knowledge, skills, attitudes and understandings that they have developed through their school career is very satisfying.
We encourage other teachers to come into the 'learning space' to observe and connect with students, those conversations are a powerful way for our students to reflect on where they are at and what their next steps could be. When a teacher sees a student the worked with 2 or 3 years ago they can see the development of the students and know that they were part of that journey. We also have an 'open house' for parent check ins; we do nothing to 'get ready' - we are ready! There are no appointment times. If a parent comes to see a child then the student engages in the sharing using what they are doing at that moment as the catalyst for the conversation. It keeps it very real.
Reflect . Choose . Commit . Act .
As a regular practise in our class we develop our commitment to planning our time and learning in what we call RCA Time. Students have dedicated time at the start and end of the day to reflect on the learning, the process, the successes and challenges, the what ifs? - sometimes we have a reflection prompt other times students generate a shared prompt or they create their own. They record their thoughts, then they decide what are the next steps - what needs to happen next - and they write it down in an "I will ...' type statement to commit to it.
Act speaks for itself! We expect evidence of action to be recorded - students need to prove they acted on what they said they were going to do. Accountability.
Students work together in so many different ways, they share skills, they reflect and challenge one another. Practically when they need help they request it.
I believe collaboration is about the culture you build in a class community.
Exhibition is not the time to create new structures, it is the time to bring together all the things that have been happening and see the synergy.
Systems and structures of organisation that support a class community are developed over time. How we organise ourselves is the transdisciplinary theme that underpins our unit, as such it provides a structure for students to have a strong foundation to guide their learning as they develop their inquiry.
'Ideas Reveal Possibilities'
students may also develop inquiries that connect to Sharing the Planet, How the world works, Where we are in place and time, Who we are or How we express ourselves, but How we organise ourselves underpins the learning.
This provides a framework for students to develop the curriculum connections that tie the learning together. They justify passionately why they are connecting to 'materials and matter' (Science) while also connecting with 'Humans and natural environments' (Social Studies) and this goes further of course. At the same time their peers will challenge them to provide evidence; these conversations are powerful.
As a teacher I have found Exhibition to be inspiring, and energising; knowing that our students have the skills and abilities to develop an inquiry that matters to them and that they still feel passionately about when staging days are done is the ultimate. The possibilities continue . . .
Teaching in an IBPYP school; interests: student agency, technology integration, growth mindset & the continuous cycle of improvement that is the world of education, learning and being!