This article underlines the role of a mentor in facilitating the inquiry process of the Primary Years Programme exhibition. It encompasses the learning journey of an exhibition inquiry group from tuning in to taking actions.
In the final year of the PYP, students engage in a culminating project, the PYP exhibition. The exhibition is a transdisciplinary inquiry conducted in the spirit of personal and shared responsibility. This is a significant event for both the school and the students, synthesizing the essential elements of the PYP and sharing them with the whole school community (Making the PYP happen, 2009).
Mentoring is a fantastic way to be an active part of the PYP exhibition. It was a dual experience for me as I am also a grade 5 homeroom teacher. Unlike other units of inquiry in the PYP, in the exhibition it is students – not teachers – who lead the planning, development and presentation of their work. As a first step, students worked together to pick the global issues; my group chose to inquire about the causes behind lack of education. Being a mentor, my role was to help them find and connect with resources, conduct research and organize their ideas, and find the best ways to present their findings to our school community.
I met with my group of students once a week. The first time we met, we looked through our PYP exhibition journal and the timeline. The students shared their burning questions with me and the work they had already done on a shared understanding of the vocabulary in their central idea. We then set a goal for our next meeting. Every meeting after that included an update on their progress, reflection on the goals we set, self-reflection on the approaches to learning skills and any questions/concerns/ideas they wanted to discuss. These weekly meetings were led and organized by the students.
Visit to Anwar Ul Uloom High School (school for underprivileged children)
My exhibition group learned about the approaches to make “Education for all” at Anwar Ul Uloom, a non-governmental and non-profit organization for underprivileged children. The president of Anwar Ul Uloom shared the mission and vision of the school during this inspirational visit and also created a platform for the comparative study.
Working with Helping Hands Welfare Society (NGO)
The students then worked collaboratively with Helping Hands to dig deeper into the root causes of poor literacy. They learned that to bring about a change, a quality education should be available to all.
Taking action is the most prominent part of the entire exhibition process. Learners became more responsible citizens by taking smart, measurable, actionable relevant and time bound action. Students participated in collaborative discussions and competently came up with positive actions and responsibilities to make this world a better place to live in.
- An effective biopic was organized by the students on Malala Yusufzai, the Nobel Prize winner. The aim was to ignite the desire for educating the masses.
- A heart touching documentary was shot and uploaded on YouTube where the slum children were interviewed on their ambitions and a message was given that, it is the people who can make those children’s dreams become a reality.
- Poems were written in Urdu on right to education for all.
- Students also went to an NGO school for the unprivileged children and taught the students as IB study buddies. They donated resources such as stationary, calculators, dictionaries and story books to bring a change in the life of government school kids.
Overall mentoring was a rewarding experience. The students were able to explicitly articulate their understanding on the exhibition day and transcend their thoughts to the community in an effective and engrossing way.
Asnaha has 6 years of experience as a homeroom teacher. She likes utilizing new technological teaching techniques in her classroom practices, and has creative attitude in teaching and learning to make her lessons more interesting for students. Asnaha strongly believes student initiated learning makes them lifelong learners.