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The 5th Grade Exhibition

The fifth graders have been busier than usual over the last eight weeks! Between fundraising for their overnight trip and spending time at the GIS Brigadoon campus for special activities, they’ve also been spotted carrying poster boards, dioramas, and models to and from school. That’s because they've devoted most of their class periods lately to inquiry, including researching, collaborating, writing, creating, and initiating action for their Exhibition projects.

It all culminated in the May 11  PYP Exhibition, an annual event for 5th graders that ties together all their learning at GIS and gives families, staff, and classmates a chance to see students' hard work in person.

The PYP Exhibition comes at the end of a student’s PYP journey at every IB World School like GIS. Learners engage in a process of self-led inquiry, undertaken in collaboration with their peers, mentors, and members of the community. Similar to the units of inquiry that all GIS students undertake collectively with their classes throughout the school year, fifth graders develop a central idea of their own, formulate lines of inquiry, participate in active reflection, and initiate actions that positively address real-life problems. Students distill the elements of the PYP experience down to its essence and demonstrate the impact of true student-led inquiry.

This year’s Exhibition takes place under the IB transdisciplinary theme, “Sharing the Planet.” Learners began brainstorming their own areas of interest in February, and decided on topics that were later grouped by category within this theme. The result was a broad and wide-ranging interpretation of what sharing the planet looks like to our students, with interests spanning animal welfare, electric vehicles, global warming, food waste, forests, plant-based meat, and pollution.

In March, fifth graders joined mixed language track groups by category and met their adult mentors from the GIS community. The mentors supported them on the eight-week Exhibition journey. 

Students worked together to share knowledge, give and receive feedback, and support one another in their inquiries. The volunteer mentors, who came to GIS once a week , aided learners in all steps of the process. They mentored students in gathering information, developing their research questions, reflecting on their inquiry-based learning process, and brainstorming individual or group-initiated action based on their findings. Mentors also arranged for expert interviews and excursions into the community for additional primary source material. 

In the end, each fifth grader was asked to present their project in multiple forms and languages, including a research essay written in English, a creative presentation made in their target language, and an oral presentation in the target language with near-simultaneous interpretation into English for general audiences. Aside from the exclusion of digital slideshow presentations, students were given total freedom to determine their own presentation type. They designed their presentations in the form of dioramas, comic books, podcasts, puppet shows, and 3-D sculpture models in addition to traditional symposium display boards. Many students combined this material with their own flyers, brochures, and products that provided additional information, raised awareness, and encouraged active civic engagement with their self-selected cause. 

The PYP Exhibition is a whole-day affair. In the morning, the fifth graders presented to their peers and siblings in the other grade school classes. In the afternoon, fifth grade parents and family members had the opportunity to visit the Exhibition. We are grateful and appreciative for having the opportunity to celebrate our fifth graders and their student-led inquiry journeys in such a public forum, and for all the members of the learning community who supported us in the process.

For those who would like to learn more about this year’s Exhibition, we invite you to explore our May 2023 PYP Exhibition website, where you’ll find details on each learner’s Exhibition project.

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