“Anytime you make the work public, set the bar high, and are transparent about the steps to make a high-quality product, kids will deliver.” So says Ron Berger in the book Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment. At Soundview, we strive to make good on this ideal through many opportunities for public display and interaction with student work: band concerts, plays, graduation presentation, and Exhibition Nights. The culminating experience is important, but it's the process, expectations, and feedback that make the difference, in terms of learning.
We had our Winter Exhibition Night recently, a culminating evening of project posters, Pi recitation, presentations, and performances. The Exhibition is both representation and culmination of an inquiry cycle, which means the event always takes a different tone. Work is on display from all students, PreK through 8th grade. The inquiry cycle begins a provocation to get students asking questions, in order to set the direction for learning, in concert with a few thematic lines of inquiry. With questions to explore, students research, analyze data and examples, find personal connections, and establish action to take. Exhibition is a chance to share and continue to make meaning in the context of the school community.
Ron Berger goes on to describe the five elements necessary for a school culture of excellence:
- Teachers must assign work that is relevant to self and the world at large.
- Students must study examples of excellence.
- Students and teachers must build a culture of feedback and critique.
- Teachers must require multiple revisions of work.
- The school must provide opportunities for public presentations of work.
Exhibition at Soundview has continually reinvented itself over the past ten years or so. What began as a middle school-only event “hosted” by a different subject group each trimester has evolved into an all-school celebration of our rigorous International Baccalaureate project-based curriculum. The recent Winter Exhibition was no exception, and as we look forward to the future we know that Exhibition at Soundview will continue to evolve with our program.
We're excited to begin implementation of the Primary Years Program Exhibition in the coming school year. While it has the same name as Soundview "Exhibition Night", it is a distinctly different project. We like to think of it as a “report card” for our entire program, Pk-5th grade.
The PYP Exhibition puts on display the cumulative work all PYP teachers and students have done in speaking, listening, reading, writing, researching, responsibility, and planning. Students will engage with mentors from the community, as well as all the constituents within the school community. We will devote an entire six week Unit of Study for the preparation of this project, and the entire school community will be invited.
As Ron Berger also says, “What goes on in the hallways is as important as what goes on in the classroom.” At Soundview we invite you to come see our hallways and our classrooms, as we work with our students to continue to deliver high quality work.