Talking about learning…

Our approach to the PYP exhibition unit is very different this year. 

The focus is on students talking about their learning… 

The central idea is ‘Developing an awareness and understanding of inequity empowers us to act’. Within the context of this broad conceptual understanding, students choose to inquire into a variety of inequities, ranging from racial stereotyping to school bullying, homelessness, animal cruelty, support for people with disabilities, and more.

After our opening conference day and other provocations to encourage engagement with the big ideas, students are provided with many opportunities to unpack the issues and think deeply about what matters to them, by talking… amongst themselves, with their own and other teachers, with students from other classes, with their own and other parents. 

One-on-one conversations…

Having the support of the entire upper primary teaching staff (and others!) for at least one lesson a week, allows time for every student to discuss what interests them and why, one-on-one with an adult . In some cases it takes several such conversations before students discover what they care deeply about and would like to explore. It’s a safe, supportive forum in which to explain the reasons behind their choice and the connection to their own life. As their inquiries unfold, these conversations serve to encourage, guide and validate. Some questioning and probing help them articulate their learning and plan how to proceed.

Unconference…

Students post up sticky notes indicating what they would like to discuss. By the afternoon these are sorted and like-minded groups are formed, across the four Year 6 classes. With a teacher to facilitate if required, the students share what they have learned so far, generate ideas, raise questions and concerns. They use a Google doc to record the conversation and share resources. It’s an opportunity to find  learners outside their own classes with whom to collaborate.

Checkpoints…

At several points along the way, an audience is invited in, providing another one-on-one opportunity for learners to share and take stock of new learning, respond to questions and reflect on the process so far. On one occasion it is parents who volunteer, on another it’s a Year 5 class. The students’ reflections indicate that the checkpoints are beneficial in keeping them on track, building confidence, receiving authentic feedback and helping them consider where to head next. 

The exhibition…

Last year, every group had a booth, backboard and table and a great deal of time was spent making these look attractive. There were posters, signs, presentations, games, cards and decorations. This year students are recording and reflecting on their learning journey in notebooks or on blogs, but for the exhibition itself each student will choose one mode of presentation only. It might be a poster, a movie, a painting, a photograph or a song. Whatever they choose needs to be a powerful and effective hook to engage the guests in conversation.

The focus is on students talking about their learning… 

The story so far…

What really matters

What would you do if you could change the world?

A different kind of conference

A different kind of conference -2

Student Voices

Beautiful cello music track in the video played by Michael Goldschlager.

 

6 thoughts on “Talking about learning…

  1. To build a little on the point made: 1) No skill develops without practice, 2) we practice knowledge by explaining it, 3) explaining it at intervals builds a permanent field of knowledge just like teachers do, 4) the need for explaining needs inclusion not just occasionally but embedded in every lesson from kindergarten onward. I explain why this is necessary and how to do it in my 3-volume Practice Makes Permanent series being issued by Rowman and Littlefield. I can email the proofs for the three books to anyone interested. Send an email address to jjensen@gci.net. Best, John Jensen

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