Grade 6 Students Shine at IB Exhibition
by Dan Mullins
Earlier this month, the Clearpoint Elementary School gym in Pointe Claire was buzzing and filled with students, parents, community members, teachers, administrators, school board staff, and at least one mayor. Sixteen groups of students each stood near well designed and hand-made booths which lined the walls
Clearpoint is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) school, and “Exhibition 2023” was the first time the exhibition has been held in-person since prior to COVID.
“What I like about the exhibition is how engaging it is,” said Clearpoint’s Principal, David Estok. “The students are engaged, and so they engage you. They are very knowledgeable after having done so much research, and they have really done outstanding work.”
Overseen by the Clearpoint IB Coordinator Layla Barroca in collaboration with their teachers, all the grade 6 students began to work on the exhibition in December. By the end of the month, they had been presented with the theme of this years’ Exhibition, “How We Express Ourselves.” They were organized into groups, each with a “Central Idea” based on answers they provided about their interests and passions, and each student had received two “Key Concept Questions” – one in English and one in French, each to be answered in the language in which they were asked.
The 16 groups were as follows: Animal Rights, Animation, Architecture, Fashion, Human Rights, Interior Design, Media, Mental Health, Music, Mythology, Photography, Space Exploration, Sports, Technological Advancements & Robotics, Video Games, and Visual Arts.
A tremendous amount of work was to follow, and with no time to spare, students began to research and write before the winter break. Upon their return to school in January, each Grade 6 class had a common block of time during which they could work on the exhibition with their group. Groups received additional support from a “Mentor,” a staff member who could answer questions and help with research. A “summit,” is also held where students could speak with professionals working in a field related to their group’s focus.
In February, via a process of consensus building, the students arrived at an “Action” that the group could undertake. Ms. Barroca also met with each group to talk about taking action and helping with planning. For example, on March 24th, to highlight the popularity of social media, the Media group staged a school-wide “blackout” during which no electronics were used, besides flashlights that students were invited to bring in.
The Architecture group’s action involves proposing a redesign of the iconic Pointe Claire windmill, which clearly pleased the city’s Mayor, Tim Thomas, who was in attendance. Having spent over an hour at the exhibition, he said “being Mayor isn’t always a fun job, but this is certainly a fun part.”
After the successful conclusion of the event, Ms. Barroca reflected on the importance of students’ perseverance. She also explained that the project enables differentiated learning and gives every single student a moment to “shine in their own way.”
Asked what advice she gave the students before the Exhibition, she offered these words, perhaps equally relevant to their upcoming graduation from grade 6:
“Speak with confidence.”
“You got this.”