Fifth Graders Wow Us with Their Virtual PYP Exhibition!

As our School and students made the transition to distance learning, fifth graders didn’t miss a beat in finalizing the details for their big annual event: the Primary Years Program Exhibition, which has traditionally taken place in the Quad.

In fact, they wowed us with their first-ever virtual Exhibition, demonstrating their enthusiasm for embracing a new method of learning and working!
 
Inviting parents to the Exhibition, fifth grade teachers said, “Even during these unprecedented times, we knew that all of the fifth graders’ hard work and dedication deserved recognition. Reflecting all that Dwight has taught our students about open-mindedness and innovation, we’re delighted to bring you the PYP Exhibition in a whole new way!”
 
The event, as always, was a milestone for fifth graders, who demonstrated attributes of the IB Learner Profile that they have been developing, as well as their ability to synthesize essential PYP elements — action, concepts, knowledge, and skills — in a collaborative project. Each year, the Exhibition is the culminating experience for students, marking their transition from the Primary Years Program to the Middle Years Program.
 
The roots of the Exhibition were planted last year, when students, as fourth graders, selected “Sharing the Planet” as the theme for their Exhibition. The theme was most apt, as the 2020 Exhibition came not long after the 50th anniversary of Earth Day around the world in which climate change was front and center. 

Sharing the Planet is defined as “an inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.”

Fifth graders began the process of working in earnest in January of this year. “When school closed in March, they were already deep into the inquiry process, having completed their research and written pieces, so we all shifted gears to continue working toward the collaborative showcase remotely and its virtual presentation,” reports Brittany Dallal, PYP Coordinator. 

For example, students were beginning to plan a prototype for their projects in design class, which they had to reimagine using materials accessible at home, making for some resourceful choices! “Additionally, students were no longer able to ‘take action’ in the way they had hoped to, as many of the people, businesses, and organizations they wanted to reach out to were either not open or operating virtually. So students decided to include action plans suggesting ways that others can protect the planet in their presentations,” Ms. Dallal explains.

Traditionally, fifth graders co-write a special Exhibition song together with their music teacher, Vita Zambetti. As everyone was working from home, students recorded their voices individually and Ms. Zambetti, using music software technology and iMovie, integrated them into one track so they could sing as one!

After learning how to use iMovie to create a video describing their projects on topics ranging from water pollution, homelessness, poverty, overfishing, and animal poaching, to robots and AI, renewable energy, global warming, international relations, and more, students shared their research and what they learned in a virtual Quad, mirroring the in-person expo experience for our community. Click here to explore the Exhibition (watch a video, see the art gallery, and visit group websites). 

While students traditionally move from the Quad into break-out classrooms to present slideshows on the night of Exhibition, this year, they accomplished this by using a computer or smartphone to present to their families who were watching on another device in a different room. Exhibition mentors helped students prepare for their presentations via Zoom sessions.

Fifth graders usually celebrate the end of their Exhibition with a rite of passage: their first trip abroad, as part of our long-standing Dwight School London exchange program. This year, their amazing teachers created a virtual trip to London, which students enjoyed over the course of the next week. Cheerio!

We congratulate our fifth graders not only for their hard work and dedication, but also for their flexibility and how well they shifted to completing their projects remotely with great enthusiasm — and well-deserved pride!