Branksome Hall News

First-ever Virtual PYP Exhibition elevates students’ core research, analytical and coping skills

You know your Grade 6 school presentation is impactful when a prominent North American non-profit is inspired to share your group activity with all its Canadian staff.
Such was the scenario when Lola, Abby, Carina and Surina asked its Zoom viewership, composed of proud parents, faculty and guests, “What does accessibility mean to you?” as part of their PYP Exhibition presentation on that topic, May 28.    

“All of you did a wonderful job presenting and the content of your presentation was strong and well put together,” wrote Esther Rhee Carnat, national program director for Autism Speaks, who attended the presentation along with executive director Jill Farber. “I especially like that you took your project from sharing information to action with the awareness activities you participated in.”
This is the goal of the PYP Exhibition, a 10-week process which allows students not only to do research, but also to make a difference in a community. Examples include promoting awareness around barriers to accessibility, greater critical understanding of social media’s potential harm, and exploring how more positive self-perception leads to higher self-esteem. Other topics included child rights, gender equality, mental health, technology, media and stereotypes.     

“Some of the standout moments for me were the shift in thinking students were able to articulate as a result of this process,” says Junior School Head Amanda Kennedy. “We were very proud of their extraordinary passion and confidence in their presentations and the deep research and reflection on their topics.” 

Indeed, in the presentation on Self-Perception with Alyssa, Madeleine, Addie and Carrie, the students articulated complex psychological concepts as they discussed an experiment they conducted with Grade 8 and 12 students who were asked to say positive things about themselves, and then others. “It was concerning that, as they got older, [the students] still found it hard to say positive things about themselves; they wrote more about their partners than themselves,” said Alyssa.  

“With the additional layer of distance learning because of COVID-19, it was impressive how students were able to rise to the challenge,” says Erika Lo, Junior School Assistant Head and PYP Coordinator. 

Likewise, in a presentation on social media and mental health, the directives explored and shared widely in the community, on telephone poles and beyond, were wise and instantly usable: “If it doesn’t make you feel good, close it!” and “Is this true, helpful, inspiring or necessary?”

“It’s amazing to mentor students who I taught in Grade 4, and seeing how much they have grown as individuals and learners in just a couple of years,” says Andrea Mills, Assistant Head and PYP Coordinator. “I am so proud each year I end up trying to hold back tears.”

“As [psychologist] Dr. Lisa Damour reminds us, stress can helpfully stretch us beyond our comfort zones and the girls definitely experienced this during the last 10 weeks. I hope that when they find themselves in Middle School feeling overwhelmed and stressed, they remember that they have the tools to be successful and to work through challenges.”

To view a recording of each presentation, please click here

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