In a grade 5 class in a PYP school, you can hardly avoid the topic. The kids were talking about it on the first day. The parents were asking about it at "Back to School" night. I am anxious and excited about it.
Several of the kids in my class have been expressing their nervousness and anxiety about the process. Several others have brainstorming ideas for what they can do. I saw two options before me; a) do I reassure them that we will talk about all this later?, or b) do we dive in right now and get our brains working?
I chose b) to dive in.
The first thing I did was get my head around the school outlines regarding the Exhibition. It seems that the Central Idea is set, as well as the Lines of Inquiry, and trans-disciplinary theme. This is something that will have to be addressed before we get into any more detail, as I think it should be much more child directed and student generated. For the time being, I took these ideas and used them as a brainstorming tool instead of something that impairs inquiry. I don't think this rigid structure will impair the brainstorming, and it might actual help it. Or, maybe not?
I wanted the kids to understand that this is a brainstorming session, and that we need to be open to new paths. I emphasized the point that we are not choosing a topic today, merely exploring what topics are available. Later on, we will focus in more detail. For now, we are looking for a wide expanse of ideas. I used the metaphor of a funnel. Right now, we are at the top of the funnel, the widest part. Later on we will get down to the narrow bits.
I made this poster, partly because I love this program and thought it was cool, but party to make the process fun and exciting. It is an amazing process, and there is no reason why we can't have a little fun with it!
Next, I asked them to just come up with ideas based on the central idea, and last years LOI (I tried to emphasis the last year bit, as I am hoping to have the process changed this year to a more student-centred approach). We wrote down as many ideas as we could and stuck them onto the poster, creating a very broad picture of where the inquiries may go.
Several of the students are already very sure of the topics they want, and have already started gathering information. Others are still completely unsure. Both are okay. It is a journey, and we will get there together. For the next couple months, I hope to explore our passions in writing and activities and independent inquiries. My sincere hope is that every student is doing something they care deeply about, and are passionate about. That is, above all I think, the most important aspect of the Exhibition. If the passion and love and engagement are there, the rest will follow close behind.
This is going to be an amazing journey. I am so excited for what lies ahead.