The IB Primary Years Programme Exhibition (PYPX) is a significant event in the life of PYP students, being one of the biggest challenges for them. PYPX is a culmination of a substantial inquiry involving self-reflection, collaboration, inquiry, action, and presentation to an audience.
The Exhibition helps build the foundational skills students need as they enter the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) and further education. The Exhibition unites the students, teachers, parents, and other school community members in a collaborative experience.
WISS Grade 5 students recently staged a successful online Primary Years Programme Exhibition (PYPX). After overcoming many challenges presented by the sudden transition to online learning, students celebrated their PYPX journey during the week-long sharing of their process with their teachers, classmates, and other WISS community members.
To learn more about this inquiry and research project, we had a Q&A session with Ms. Inga Bela, PYP Coordinator at WISS, who explained what this significant milestone means for Grade 5 students.
What is PYPX?
The PYP Exhibition celebrates the children’s knowledge and skills throughout their PYP experience. It is a culmination of students’ inquiry involving self-reflection, collaboration, action, and an opportunity to share their message with the school community.
What is the main idea for this year’s Exhibition?
This year’s PYP exhibition was developed through the ‘How We Organize Ourselves’ Transdisciplinary Theme with an overarching central idea: Creative thinking can inspire solutions for the future.
How do students choose their groups?
The PYP Exhibition journey began with students brainstorming a range of topics that would allow them to explore local and global issues and take meaningful action. Students identified issues they had a personal connection to and felt most passionate about. When the issues to explore were chosen, students were grouped with other fifth-graders interested in researching the same issues.
What are the biggest lessons students learn throughout the project?
When reflecting on the Exhibition, most students mentioned the importance of developing their Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills. Developing self-management skills played an important role during the whole exhibition process but even more so during the online part of the PYPX.
Shannon shared: “I developed self-management skills during online learning since I had to organize all the notes together, and I had to do all the things by myself, so it was good practice for me. “
To overcome all the challenges the PYPX journey presented to the students, they needed to strengthen their self-management skills by working on completing their work on time, becoming more resilient when facing challenges and obstacles, and practicing mindfulness to stay balanced and positive.
How do students guide their inquiry process?
During the PYP Exhibition, students had an excellent opportunity to showcase all the skills they developed throughout the PYP. Students were encouraged to take ownership of their PYPX process and be agents of their own learning. After choosing an issue to inquire into, students wrote deep conceptual questions to help guide their inquiries. Working in small groups, fifth-graders developed their central ideas and lines of inquiry and began researching their topics. After collecting, organizing, and evaluating all the information, students shared their key findings with their peers and other school community members. This year, the presentations were conducted online and then shared with the broader community through a dedicated PYPX website as part of the WISS Hub.
How does the PYPX help students develop the IB Learner Profile attributes?
The PYP Exhibition was an excellent opportunity for students to demonstrate all the Learner Profile attributes in the context of one extended inquiry. Depending on the times in the exhibition journey or what students were focusing on, different learner profile attributes came into focus.
During the Exhibition, Dastan mentioned developing as a Risk-Taker: “My PYPX experience was like a rollercoaster. There were a lot of challenges, and I needed to go over these hard times.”
Luella identified research as one of the challenges she had to overcome during the PYPX to become Knowledgeable about her chosen issue. “My biggest success during my PYPX journey was how much knowledge and information I gained about mental health.”
Jacob shared how important it was for him to communicate with others and ask for help when needed. “One of the biggest challenges I faced was finding sources and creating a bibliography because the iPad I used to do the research was broken. I asked for help, and I was able to overcome both of these problems.”
What is the role of the mentors, and how do they support students with their inquiry process?
The Exhibition is a collaborative experience that unites the school community members. This year, students had an opportunity to collaborate with their teachers, classmates, and mentors from across the school. Throughout the Exhibition, mentors helped monitor their groups’ progress, helped students interpret complex information, and find the best way to take action and share their learning with others. During their mentor meetings, students shared and discussed their questions, plans, and progress. These conversations helped the students to challenge their thinking, reflect on their learning, organize their research, and consider different perspectives.
PYPX encourages students to take action. What does this mean for WISS students?
Action is a critical component of the PYP exhibition. Students are empowered to choose and inquire into topics they are passionate about during the Exhibition. And having a passion is an essential ingredient to taking personal action and making change. The exploration of relevant and important issues to students allowed them to take action steps that help raise awareness about these global challenges and contribute to solutions to these issues.
This year, fifth graders used an opportunity to take action by creating board games to help the WISS community stay physically active, designing posters that help raise awareness about waste, pollution, and global conflicts, and creating inspirational videos and sharing valuable strategies to support mental health.
How does the overall unit’s central idea connect to the students’ exhibition central ideas?
The central idea of the PYPX was Creative Thinking can inspire solutions for the future. The range of issues students have chosen to inquire into demonstrates their understanding of global challenges that require creative solutions. The issues explored during this year’s Exhibition include war and conflict, technology, physical and mental health, inequality, waste, animal abuse and animal extinction, ocean pollution, artificial intelligence, and bullying.
Is PYPX an individual project or teamwork?
The PYP Exhibition is a collaborative inquiry that starts from personal interests and passions and extends into real-world global, national and local issues. Students have many opportunities to collaborate with others throughout the Exhibition when they develop their central ideas and lines of inquiry, plan learning and assessment experiences, research their chosen issues, plan and take action, and prepare to share their learning.
There are also many opportunities for individual work throughout the PYPX. For example, students engage in planning and creating writing and creative pieces to convey a message about their PYPX topic or central idea. They also set personal development goals and regularly reflect on their exhibition process and progress.
Would you say PYPX is powerful learning? Why?
The PYPX is an excellent opportunity for powerful learning. However, like with any other opportunity, it is as powerful as we make it to be. When students take on the challenge of the PYPX with enthusiasm and take ownership of their learning, they experience growth and achieve outstanding results. Here is what Youyi shared in her PYPX reflection:
“Throughout the PYPX process, I learned how to manage my time, conduct research, take notes, organize them and create a report. I developed my research, self-management, and communication skills. I now understand how to create central ideas and lines of inquiry. I would say that the PYPX was amazing. It was also so fun and good.”
Is it possible to define PYPX in a word?
It is challenging to define PYPX in a word, but if challenged to use only one word, it would be Agency. One of the goals of the Exhibition is to foster student agency, leadership skills, and ownership of the learning process during the PYPX.
How do students take responsibility for their learning?
One of the key purposes of the PYP exhibition is to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate independence and responsibility for their learning. Fifth graders are expected to synthesize and apply their learning from previous years and to reflect upon their journey through the PYP. Throughout the Exhibition, teachers, mentors, and other members of the school community provided support and guidance to empower the students to take full ownership of the PYPX process, including the selection of issues to inquire into, development of central ideas, and planning, organization, and presentations of their inquiries. Students did a fantastic job developing their Approaches To Learning skills, especially their self-management skills, as they navigated the transition to online learning.
WISS is very proud of our Grade 5 students, both for the work that they carried out and for their resilience as learners during a unique moment in time. We wish them all the best and will follow their success as they move into the Middle Years Programme at WISS.
To explore the Grade 5 PYP Exhibition at WISS and all the fantastic projects students did this year, please visit the WISS Hub PYPX website here.
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