PYP Exhibition at AIA: A manifestation of student agency

PYP Exhibition at AIA: A manifestation of student agency

Qatar Living
By Qatar Living

The annual PYP exhibition at Arab International Academy is the culmination of a long learning journey. It is an opportunity for our fifth graders to celebrate their application of knowledge, conceptual understandings, and learner profile attributes and to showcase the skills they have been developing throughout their PYP journey and units of inquiry. Not only do students at this stage  emerge as independent learners who can initiate their learning but also as decision-makers who can design their own learning goals and work collaboratively to reflect on, assess, and adjust their learning to reach their desired goals. 

This year, the exhibition unit was built  under the transdisciplinary theme,  ‘How We Express Ourselves’ and  around the United Nation’s Goals  for Sustainable Development. The  learning process started with an  induction session where teachers  informed the students of the purpose  and the requirements of the PYP exhibition. As the main feature of the  exhibition is to explore an issue of local  or global significance, we encouraged  our learners to choose global issues  of personal significance to them. Those issues ranged from wars, pollution, addiction, quality education, and natural disasters, to well-being  and poverty and were collected and classified under 6 goals for sustainable development to help students inquire into authentic economic, social, and environmental challenges our world is currently facing. 

Students with similar interests were grouped together to then begin their learning journey. The PYP exhibition is first and foremost an opportunity for students to demonstrate their agency as learners and work collaboratively with their peers, teachers, and mentors throughout this learning process. Supported by their teachers, our students began to write the central ideas, the lines of inquiry, and the key and related concepts. They also identified the skills they needed and designed their learning goals and success criteria. Having done so, they  began to formulate guiding questions that would guide their inquiry and gathered information using a variety  of resources such as the internet, books, interviews, and surveys. As the unit is transdisciplinary in nature and  crosses all subject areas, students demonstrated their capabilities in integrating languages, math, science, and art into their learning.  

At AIA, we value arts and encourage our learners to engage in arts as we consider it the gateway to developing  critical intellectual and self-expression skills. Adding an aesthetic aspect to the exhibition is essential for learners to appreciate art and its purpose in persuading the target audience. To deliver stronger messages about their  global issues, our students created artistic displays that summarize and symbolize the value of their projects  which at the same time sparked the audience’s attention and provoked their curiosity to ask conceptual questions about the product.

The artistic touch under the guidance of the art teachers highlights in many ways the rigour of the work carried out by our learners and the extent to which they were able to illustrate their learning from research and investigation using sculpture, painting, and photography, not to mention the effort they put into rewriting the lyrics of the FIFA World Cup song ‘We Are  the Dreamers’ to fit the occasion and performing it on stage. Each of the 16 stations, and the introductory performance that summarized the message of each  group, underlined how successful the PYP Program at AIA's approach to learning is. Using a mix of  social, interpersonal, management  and research skills, AIA students demonstrated the IB Learner traits and showed themselves as responsible and balanced learners capable of understanding and delivering a message to their audience through well-developed  presentation and communication skills.  

They took a clear stance for the cause they espoused and raised awareness about it as future conscious and responsible citizens who want to create a change for the better through taking action and being vocal. This is their first formal foray as independent life-long learners which they planned and executed themselves.

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