W is for Well-Being

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Traditionally, the PYP exhibition has heavily been centered around NATURE. Really big issues that students really don’t have an impact on. There has been a real shift in recent years. This shift has happened for a number of reasons:

  • teachers are getting better at the PYP exhibition
  • the exhibition has become more personal
  • students are valuing the importance of the self
  • the focus is keeping it simple and realistic

The above image shows that there is a serious tilt towards WELL-BEING. This is best described as:

Our individual health, happiness, education, satisfaction, and fulfillment, as well as the health of our families and primary relationships, and the quality of our living and working environments.”

We have found that the students have been really engaged and empowered because of this shift. One of the most obvious benefits is that well-being is easy to access in the school context and community.

Making the exhibition personally connected and significant has given it real meaning to the students. This is authentic learning!

 

 

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14 comments

  1. whatedsaid

    I saw a tweet today from someone who’s mentoring a pypx group and wondering how they will take action – their issue is over population and I am wondering too! Three years ago, in our first pypx, we had kids inquiring into things as big as global poverty. The best advice we got from Sam was to help kids find meaningful, relevant personal connections… applicable to all learning, not just the exhibition.

    • lsacker

      I agree with the personal connections.. BUT there are a glut of kids exploring bullying … that is what they might know.
      It is a big thing to find connections beyond that for many kids. At our pypx I thought there would be an avalanche of children who really care about the treatment of animals as this connected to what they eat. turned out very few seemed to care or connected with it. .

      • Mr. Sam

        This is certainly something we can look into when we’re at Mt. Scopus, Layla. Of course, there may be a real issue of bullying at your school and this may be having a profound effect on the students. Also, however, it could be a bandwagon.

        Also, it is crucial that teachers communicate to students that the PYP Exhibition doesn’t have to be a vehicle for looking at all the bad things about the world! That is something we have done quite well in recent years.

        • lsackerPYPljl09

          Yes, I have to say that your point about looking at the bad things just made me sit back and think. We do tend to focus on that. Excellent point. I think that the issues they can connect to that way are far richer!

    • Mr. Sam

      I would be very interested to hear those students explain how over-population affects them in their everyday lives. This is a massive thing for Year 6 students to be looking into in any way other than a straight-forward research project. In fact, to go one step further, something like this could be very “disempowering” for students as there is a danger they could emerge from the PYP EXhibition feeling as though there is nothing they can do about it.

  2. Ms. Chye

    I like what whatedsaid and Sam are talking about here. I’ve been reading your blogs but I don’t think you’ve shared the central idea(s) framing these units. Could you share them? Students in our school have been inquiring into big issues like poverty, education and world hunger for several years now and I agree with what I’ve been reading; it’s time for a shift in our thinking. Although these issues have been important to the students and extremely relevant to where we live (in Zambia), we’ve been talking about ways we can make the exhibition simple and realistic for the students because it often becomes an overwhelming experience for all involved! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mr. Sam

      Chye… that is brilliant. Your comment contains the main focus of our central idea for PYP Exhibition – “shift in thinking”. The central idea has been evolving for several years, but at the moment it is:

      “Ideas can shift thinking and reveal possibilities for action.”

      We have been opening up the central idea more and more to allow more room for genuine student interests. It is in the Where we are in place and time theme so that we are not pushing issues at them!

      • Ms. Chye

        Thanks for sharing your central ideas. I will bring them to our G5 team next year. Each year our fifth graders write the central idea collectively and it’s always focuses on one big umbrella issue that in theory relates to each smaller issue that the students want to inquire into on their own, with a partner or in a small group. Our CI this year was focused on children’s rights using the declaration of children’s rights from the UN as a main reference point. The CI reads, “We were born together, we live together, and together we have rights and responsibilities as children of the world.” As teachers we certainly could have lived without the ‘together’ phrases, but they were very important to the students. Also, we thought it was important to include rights and responsibilities because children are responsible for the choices for themselves everyday because they affect the lives of others.

        As teachers we’ve talked about choosing or writing a strong central idea, like the one you’ve developed at your school Sam, and running with it for several years in a row, but we’ve found that writing the CI together as a group of 40 students, 2 teachers, 1 TA, 1 PYP coordinator and the input from other members of the school has been a powerful process where students have shown their creativity and have been challenged to collaborate and compromise. Writing a non-biased, ‘true’ and thought-provoking statement with so many minds working together has been a wonderful challenge.

    • whatedsaid

      Our last exhibition CI was:
      “Developing awareness and understanding of inequity empowers us to act.”
      This allowed for inquiries into all kinds of inequity, not necessarily global issues. There were some kids who explored bullying, exclusion, animal rights and disabilities, among other things.
      Like Sam, I’m keen to move away from negativity (although I’d retain this one as a regular UOI), but have yet to persuade others 🙂
      I have no contacts in Zambia and would love to connect! Will you leave a message on the form on my ‘About’ page so that I can be in touch?
      More here about our PYPX http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/extra-ordinary-learning/ (with links to other posts)

    • Mr. Sam

      They certainly do. We must realize, however, that it is quite difficult to get them to reveal their genuine interests. We must not accept their first ideas but must continue to probe and probe until all the habits of saying what their friends say, what their parents say and what their teachers say eventually stop and they actually tell us what they think or feel. We find they have had so many years of practice at pretending that their veneers are already pretty tough by the time they get to us in Year 6!

      • Chad

        Just to add to the last line to what Sam touched on… I’m finding the the pypx is a real surprise for most of our students. They really don’t come armed with the knowledge and skills that they should especially if they have been in an ib school for some years. I would really like to see an exhibition or something of the like in every year level. People keep telling me that the exhibition is just another unit. I could not disagree more. Yes, fundamentally it is just another unit, but it is defiantly not treated as such. The mentors, specialist integration, collapsed timetable, parent and community involvement, extra meetings, higher demands and pressure on both students and teachers etc. While I like the idea of it being the culmination of the pyp journey if we are going to be better at this I would like to see a move to better prepare the students.
        Teaching trans. Skills and attitudes (not the language but it it means in action) should be naturally embedded in the students learning. It sometimes feels like these things are being taught alongside of everything else.

      • concentricthinking

        Just to add to the last line to what Sam touched on… I’m finding the the pypx is a real surprise for most of our students. They really don’t come armed with the knowledge and skills that they should especially if they have been in an ib school for some years. I would really like to see an exhibition or something of the like in every year level. People keep telling me that the exhibition is just another unit. I could not disagree more. Yes, fundamentally it is just another unit, but it is defiantly not treated as such. The mentors, specialist integration, collapsed timetable, parent and community involvement, extra meetings, higher demands and pressure on both students and teachers etc. While I like the idea of it being the culmination of the pyp journey if we are going to be better at this I would like to see a move to better prepare the students.
        Teaching trans. Skills and attitudes (not the language but what it means in action) should be naturally embedded in the students learning. It sometimes feels like these things are being taught alongside of everything else.

  3. Jeremy (@jcare)

    I think it’s good for students to for Exhibition students to look at (and at first be frustrated by) the seemingly impossible large issues as well as their personal well being and connections. For example one group of students came up with the central idea: People help maintain their health with the resources they have access to in their community. For a while, it was a struggle for them as it was vast and could be taken in a multitude of directions. As time went on, they developed a shared a vision of what this central idea looked like: dance. By developing, presenting and promoting dance as an accessible healthy life choice they were able to explore their personal well being and passions as well as figure out ways to tackle bigger health problems in the community through dance. In this situation dance is a powerful tool that, if they wanted to, students could take further in their lives to literally make an impact on the larger society. If they choose not to take it further, at least they did develop those aspects of cultivating personal well being as individuals as well as in a group.

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