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The 5th Grade PYP Exhibition

The PYP (Primary Years Programme) Exhibition at GIS Portland is the highlight of a learning journey that for many 5th grade students started when they were 3 years old. 

In the final year of the PYP our students complete an in-depth collaborative capstone project related to real life issues they care about. This involves students working collaboratively to conduct an in-depth inquiry, and collectively synthesize all the essential elements of the PYP in ways that can be shared with the whole school community. It also provides teachers with a powerful and authentic process for assessing student understanding. 

The exhibition represents a unique and significant opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB (International Baccalaureate) Learner Profile developed throughout their engagement with the PYP. It also provides schools and students with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the transition of learners to the next phase of their education.

This school year was no exception. Our students conquered many challenges in the last year, from distance learning to returning to in-person learning and many small steps in between.

Our 5th grade team had several broadly defined goals for our exhibition: 

  • Celebration of learning 
  • Student agency and voice
  • Collaboration 
  • Creativity
  • Community outreach ad action learning

The unit exhibition theme this year was: 

Sharing the Planet, an inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things. 

When introducing the overall theme, we love to spark curiosity. There is also not necessarily a right or wrong solution and truth-seeking can take many forms.

We recruit mentors from our school community and connect students in small groups based on themes chosen. Mentors commit to meet with their group weekly and support students on their inquiry journey by asking questions, help make connections and support the German language component. 

For many students there is a lot of information to digest. Our conversations focus on what attributes reliable sources have, how to distinguish opinions from facts, and biases in reporting.

We were also fortunate to have had Mark Trexler, a local climate change expert, join the class for a Q&A session. 

These connections provide students with authentic, real-life information that goes beyond the theories they researched. For many, connecting with community members also sparks ideas for how they want to initiate change in the community.

Working and researching such broad topics is not without challenges. Students need to be able to plan for continuous progress, be open-minded to feedback from others, collaborate, and channel their creativity. The PYP approaches to learning (social, research, thinking, communication and self-management skills) help students to reflect on their progress and fine tune their goals as they are moving forward. 

An important part of the PYP includes figuring out how to share their findings. Students created art and posters to display around the school, created a website, and had an outdoor event to present their projects to classmates and parents, answering questions and engaging in constructive dialogue.

Check out the website yourself! We hope it sparks your curiosity as well. And also check out what the PYP world community is working on under the #PYPX21 hashtag on Twitter and Instagram!

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