The culminating project for students in our Primary Years Program is the 5th grade Exhibition project. Guided by our 5th grade teacher, Ms. Pam Green, students are asked to become experts in a topic that they feel passionate about and want to make a change.
Ms. Green starts the school year encouraging students to discuss topics that are bothering them. They can be local, national or global issues. These topics are talked about during the morning community circle and then added to the “What’s Bugging Us” wall in the classroom. As the year goes on these topics are narrowed down and groups are formed to research and learn more about these important issues.
Each group works with a mentor faculty member to help them set up field trips, interviews and find their focus in presenting their issue to the school community. This past year topics included Junk Food, Animal Shelters, Dog Abuse and Smoking and Cancer. Brant Childers, CHA’s Lower School principal, worked as the adviser to the Smoking and Cancer group. Here’s a look at what they did.
Students visited the Los Angeles office of the American Lung Association and met with the Advocacy Director John Yi and his staff. They learned about the support services this organization provides and measures they take to educate the public about the dangers of smoking.
The kids were visited by Nora Manzanilla who is the program director from the LA City tobacco enforcement program. Nora discussed many of the dangers of the new smoking products on the market like E-cigs etc. and how tobacco companies are marketing these products towards kids. Students also met with Esther Schiller who is one of the pioneer advocates for eliminating smoking in public places including apartment buildings due to the dangers of second hand smoke. They also interviewed people who were smokers, people who lived with smokers, and people who have had health effects from smoking or that have had family members who have died from smoking. By interviewing experts in the community they were able to gain valuable insights into the current issues, problems, and advancements in association with their issue.
The group then chose a creative art form to display what they had learned through the Exhibition process. Mr. Childers explains, “By allowing the students the creativity to express themselves through their chosen art form they were much more engaged and engrossed in the project. In the end they were so confident, knowledgeable, and proud of what they’d accomplished because the project was theirs.”
The smoking and cancer group chose to do a mural showing the effects of smoking on the body. Guided by the learning profile of being knowledgeable, students showed what smoking can do to them. They also created a rap video as a public service announcement. They decided to take action by having students, teachers and parents sign a pledge to not smoke or to stop smoking. They gathered over 70 signatures. That’s taking action!
By providing authentic learning experiences through the IB program, the students are gaining a real-world insight and building skills they can actually take and apply in their lives. They are developing their research and critical thinking skills. All the while learning to manage their time and work effectively together as a group. Our students are becoming critical thinkers and confident communicators. These are skills that will benefit them in the future world.