Year 6 IB PYP Exhibition at Aberfeldie

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Our Lady of the Nativity School, Aberfeldie's International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme.6 December 2019

Our Lady of the Nativity School, Aberfeldie, is a Franciscan school offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP).

The Franciscan charism underpins the learning program at Our Lady of the Nativity School, providing students with a Catholic world view and encouraging a lived faith through a pedagogy of encounter which encourages students to engage with the issues facing the world today. Together with the charism, the school’s PYP framework encourages students to be outward-looking, to demonstrate agency and to make a difference in the world.

A key element of the IB PYP framework is the Exhibition – a self-directed unit of inquiry that enables students to conduct investigations into issues of importance that they are passionate about. Through the learning process, students have the opportunity to apply a range of transdisciplinary learning skills and demonstrate the development of Learner Profile attributes. The Exhibition is the culmination of their progress through, and engagement with, the PYP.

In October, Our Lady of the Nativity held the 2019 Exhibition. This year, the Year 6 Exhibition focused on the transdisciplinary theme ‘Sharing the Planet’ and students worked individually or collaboratively to investigate a wide range of issues facing planet Earth today. Among the inquiries that were conducted were investigations into homelessness, climate change, children’s rights, peace and conflict, animal testing and rights, the negative impact of plastics, habitat degradation, fossil fuels and conservation. Many of the inquiries conducted by the students had a very strong STEM focus, while at the same time highlighting issues of Catholic social justice and the call to right relationship with all of creation.

Throughout the learning process, the students’ teachers acted as facilitators, conducting numerous skill-based workshops and guiding research. Many other teachers throughout the school acted as mentors, working with individuals and/or small groups of students. This approach not only enabled the students to inquire into a broad range of issues, but ensured that support and skill development were targeted and differentiated. All students, regardless of ability or learning style, were empowered to succeed and they certainly thrived in such a learning environment.

The culmination of the students’ learning was the Exhibition day itself, which provided the opportunity for the students to present their learning to the community. The students spent several days planning and constructing their Exhibition space, and the diversity of presentation made for a highly interesting and engaging area. Such was the depth of their learning that the students confidently and articulately presented their inquiries to both adults and children, adapting their language as necessary.

Reflection is a key part of the learning process and the students were unanimous in their view that, despite the initial trepidation associated with the Exhibition, the experience was a powerful one for them and they enjoyed the high levels of agency that were associate with self-directed learning. Most importantly the students realised that they had demonstrated all the IB Learner Profile attributes and were indeed inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. Perhaps, most of all, they showed that they were becoming ‘active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right’ (IB mission statement).

‘I enjoyed that throughout the process we were guided through steps to help our inquiry.’

‘We were able to use our creativity to share what we had learned at OLN through the PYP.’

‘I’m proud of how I was able to learn using a range of skills and collaborate with my peers.’

‘I loved how my group worked together and I really enjoyed learning with others who shared my interests.’

‘I’m proud of how far I have come as a learner and how it has taught me to be a better person.’

‘I loved the opportunity to share our passions with others and raise awareness for a range of causes and issues.’