A process that began for Upper Canada College Grade 5 students in October culminated on Friday afternoon with the Primary Years Program (PYP) Exhibition.
“It’s a celebratory day where all of the hard work comes together,” says PYP coordinator Dianne Jojic of an afternoon where parents come to check out all of the boys’ exhibits. “Today feels like a celebration of the learning.”
The exhibition began at 1 p.m. in Weston Hall with three Grade 5 boys explaining what it’s all about and what went into it to get to this point. All of the students involved with the exhibition then sang a song about making a positive difference in the world, which is what their research and exhibits are meant to contribute to.
With the opening ceremonies over, the boys spread out around Weston Hall and the Bitove Lounge to talk about what they’d learned about issues covering animal rights, genetic engineering, technology, inequalities, diseases, the environment, health and poverty.
“They have lots of opportunity to choose something according to their interests, and then we do a lot of current events work in the fall,” says Jojic. “In January they start narrowing their focus to pick the top three or four issues they really care about.
“They then get into groups based on those issues and then they try to learn as much as they can about it, with a focus on how it can be changed or how people can take action to make a difference.”
Each group has a volunteer adult mentor from the admissions department and Prep and Upper Schools who guides it, with further assistance provided by Grade 5 teachers. Some boys also looked beyond the school to help them with their research, including one that consulted the Longo’s grocery store chain to find out about food sourcing and another that went to The Toronto Humane Society to learn more about animal cruelty.
“That enriches their learning and sometimes there’s an opportunity for action that they don’t know about until they make that connection,” says Jojic, who’s witnessed improvements in the boys’ research and critical thinking skills during the exhibition preparation process.
““We’re trying to build the research skills all the way through Primary to get to Grade 5, but Grade 5 is the most independent they’ve been around a project this size,” says Jojic, noting how the boys guided their own research and examined form, function, causation, change and connection questions for their lines of inquiry.
Most groups used laptops in their exhibits and several incorporated quizzes and games to help get their points across in a fun and interactive manner. The boys did an excellent job of presenting what they learned to a group of parents and other visitors who seemed impressed by what they saw and heard.
Paintings and sculptures by the boys were accompanied by artist statements on the meaning of their works, which were tied into exhibition themes.
One classroom showed animated videos that were created, scripted and voiced by students in French. Three short videos and a puppet show, created by Grade 5 boys and related to exhibition topics, were shown in another classroom.
“The boys always do a great job and they’re very excited,” says Jojic. “They’re really proud of the work that they’ve done and they’re happy to share.”
Here are more photos from the exhibition: