Digital Teaching Resources, IB

IB Exhibition: Part III

The research is done (Part I). The community visit or interview is done (Part II). Now what?

Quick re-cap: The students picked a man-made system that interested them, researched the system and current problems with that system, then interviewed or went on a community visit to talk to someone in the field. 

As part of the IB Inquiry Cycle, I now asked my students how they were going to “Take Action” in some way. I wanted the groups to develop a creative and positive way to make a difference (in regards to the problem they’ve been researching).

– What can your group do now that you have learned all of this information?
– How can your group make a difference?

I used these two documents to help the students understand what taking action looks like and some questions to guide their thinking.

  • Think of small changes first.  Build from there.
  • Be reasonable.  Consider time-constraints, manpower, monetary investment, etc. when developing your idea.

Here’s how it looked for a few of my groups:

  1. Transportation system (specifically the local CARTA buses): Students created fliers to pass out in the car-pool line at school to encourage parents to have students walk/ride bikes/use public transportation more often.
  2. Farming system (specifically “farm to table” movement): Students went to a farmers market, bought local ingredients, created a recipe from scratch, and shared it with the class.
  3. Education system (specifically physical education and health/nutrition): Students created a five minute presentation to show to the kindergarten classes at our school to promote healthy eating and exercise over summer vacation. The also created a website to share.

Since Exhibition is the culminating project in the Primary Years Programme, the students add their projects to the end of their portfolios. These portfolios (large binders) have been with the students since kindergarten. I save everything from the year, and we have “portfolio days” where the students select the items they are proud of, worked hard on, or just want to keep. They are constantly reflecting too, on their use of IB attributes and attitudes. All of this is kept in their portfolios.

I invite the parents in for a student-led conference. Before the conference, students use this criteria to flag articles that they are especially proud of. On conference day, their parents can write notes back to them and also describe how they have seen their child grow. After their student-led conference, the students get to take their portfolios home. They will get a new one next year as they start the Middle Years Programme.

Digital Citizenship, Digital Teaching Resources, Google Sites, IB, Uncategorized

End-of-Year Lifesavers

If you are like me, those last few days of school are a struggle. The students have finished their end-of-year exams, they know grades are finished, but you’re not quite ready to pop in the movie just yet. I found a  few lifesavers that helped me keep my sanity this week.

  1. Rock on to 5th Grade – Interactive Google Slides
    This is a take on the old paper booklets where students write about their year. I made an electronic version, posted it to Google Classroom (with the option that each student got their own copy) and set a due date. Students had to write about everything from how my future class could succeed in my room, to their summer plans. I even included alphabet pages, where students wrote one thing we learned this year for each letter.
  2. End-of-Year Brain Maps
    I saw this article on Eduptopia and copied the directions in a Google Doc to post on Google Classroom. I gave each table (four students) a large piece of butcher paper, some markers, and they were off to the races. I saw many students using my class Google Site to think back about what we’ve learned this year. A short presentation followed.
  3. IB Exhibition (Part I, II, and III). 
    While “Exhibition” is unique to IB schools, any inquiry based, research project could be completed at the end of the year. Students started by researching man-made systems. They interviewed someone in the field or went on a community visit, then researched a real-world problem that exists within that system. Finally the students had to “take action” in some way to help with the real-world problem. Some students made lesson plans for lower grades, others passed out fliers in their community, and some even started their own farmers market.


Summer is almost here! Enjoy!

Digital Teaching Resources, IB

IB Exhibition: Part II

My students have been working on Exhibition for a few weeks now. (See previous post on how we got started, our Unit of Inquiry, and “Finding Out”.)

After researching man-made systems, my students moved on to “Sorting Out” and “Going Further.” The students chose three key concepts to start brainstorming questions to go along with their unit.

Key Concepts PYP

I then had students think of real-world problems that are occurring with the system they chose. I created a google slide show where each student was responsible for filling in one slide with the problems associated with their system. Make a copy for yourself here.


Students then reached out the the community for interviews. We had responses from around the city. I had students interviewing local chefs and farmers about the “farm-to-table” movement, two members of the Charleston Ports Authority and Boarder Patrol came to hand-deliver their interview questions to one group, and still other students went to local software companies to discuss computer coding and hacking. We were overwhelmed with the positive support form both teachers in the building who had local contacts and the responses from around our city who had no affiliation with our school.

This will then move into our “Taking Action” portion of exhibition. Students will take action in some way to address the real-world issue researched above. See my future post on “Taking Action.”

Digital Teaching Resources, IB, Uncategorized

IB Exhibition: Part I

What is IB Exhibition?

In IB terms: The exhibition represents a unique and significant opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile developed throughout their engagement with the PYP. It also provides teachers with a powerful and authentic process for assessing student understanding.
In educator terms: Students in 4th grade  engage in inquiry-based, collaborative, research project. Students identify, and offer solutions to real life issues or problems they discover through their research.
In kid terms: Students use their IB attributes, apply knowledge from previous years, and take action as a result of learning.

This Exhibition project is unique to International Baccalaureate schools, but could really be used for any student-centered research project. Here is the presentation I use with my class.


Going Digital with Exhibition:

Last year was my first year working with my students on Exhibition. We definitely winged some of it, but borrowed a lot from teachers who had done it before. I was happy with the research my students had done but knew I could improve.

(The students should be using the IB Inquiry Cycle during this project, as well as the IB attributes that they’ve learned about since Kindergarten. I reference both of these through the entire Exhibition process.)

I started with a pre-survey on Google Forms to see what they know and remember about our IB units. (Students in an IB school get six units each year, each with the same broad title/theme, although the content varies greatly). My class has only had five units this year, because Exhibition is the 6th.

The unit we are doing is called “How We Organize Ourselves” and is described as, “An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.” That’s a mouthful! We tend to focus on the first part to make it easier for 4th graders to understand (human-made systems and communities).


I created both a digital journal and a digital sources list for the students. These are shared on Google Classroom, so each student gets their own copy. Students are responsible for keeping up with their journal throughout this process. I usually ask our IB coordinator to come talk to the kids about Inquiry and to do a provocation at the beginning:



I created a Google Doc with the list of man-made systems to build on. I can’t wait to see the length of this list after a few more years of Exhibition.

Finally, I sent a “Seeking Mentors” flier and a Google Form to the parents of my class asking for volunteers. There is no way I can help all of my students with their research, community visit, and ideas for taking action. I depend on these mentors to help with answering questions and facilitating the visits. People in the community, as well as in the school building, have also been helpful mentors! Mentors who respond will receive this form about their responsibilities and later a checklist.

So far, we have only “tuned in” and done some “finding out.” I will write another post as we we move toward “sorting out” and “going further.” The inquiry cycle isn’t linear, and students should never be “done” with one of the stages, but it is helpful to keep track and follow a natural progression.



Digital Teaching Resources

Breakout EDU

Ever since doing a Breakout Room in Miami on vacation, I loved the idea. Three friends and I (all with graduate degrees) did not make it out of the “Pirate” room in the 60 minutes but we had a lot of fun. As soon as I heard about the educational version, I created a Donor’s Choose project and got my breakout box funded ($125).


Luckily, my partner in crime, Lisa Stewart, got her own Breakout EDU box delivered on the same day. We settled on our test breakout, “Alien Invasion” and got to work. We decided to use both boxes, in two rooms, so students could work in smaller groups.

Note: There is a lot of front-end prep work for the teachers. We had to print out documents, write on them in invisible ink, and set all of the locks. These videos were helpful. My box was also missing a directional lock, which I had to order on Amazon

We hid the things around each of our rooms. We divided the class in half (this time it was girls versus boys) and read the story line and let the kids go. Lisa found this amazing YouTube video which has a 45-minute timer that also played suspenseful music. This added to the excitement in my room.


This breakout is listed as for ages 5-10. Since I teach 4th Grade, we started with this one. We now realize that we could do some middle school ones since the girls finished with 11 minutes to spare and the boys with 8 minutes. I am so excited to try this again, and we will be doing The Lost Lincoln Letter next week during our Civil War Unit. I will be using the ones that match my state standards/units, but the alien one was a great place to start. If you are interested in other Breakout EDUs, they can be found below:


Note: Some of the breakout games require things not included in the box. There are helpful video tutorials for each game that I would recommend watching beforehand!


Digital Teaching Resources, Google Sites

Game Changer: Google Sites

As I was showing a colleague some of the negatives of Google Classroom (things tend to get lost at the bottom of my stream, I keep posting notes after each class and kids can’t find them, etc) when she asked me if I was going to use Google Sites next year to solve these problems. Light bulb! I was immediately transported back to my first IB Conference where the keynote speaker was Alan November. He is an international leader in education technology and part of his address was about providing students with all the resources before the class even begins. College professors have been doing this for years, but it hadn’t been done in elementary classrooms yet.

Even my husband asked if there was a way to lock the pages so kids wouldn’t get ahead. But why shouldn’t they go ahead? The more material they know or learn before I cover it in class, the more time we have to spend going in-depth or doing real world, inquiry based projects. I immediately took over his laptop and created my first Google Site.

You can view my site here:

My home page has links to my Open House presentations and brochure. The Genius Hour page has all my links (mentioned in previous posts…but all in one place.) My favorite sub-page is for Notes. I have a page for each subject and then a sub-page for each standard. (This is still a work in progress.) Students can click on the notes which will open in Google Slides before, during, or after we talk about them in class. I also provide relevant links like to NASA and Brain Pop so students can explore these topics at their convenience. My Links page has all the links my class frequents (ALEKS, Quizlet, Renaissance Learning) all on one page. Finally, my IB page has information about all six of my IB units and a link to their summative assessment project.


I previewed it with my class yesterday, and they were so excited. They loved the idea of having all this information in one place, (and were a little annoyed that I hadn’t thought of it sooner.) Thanks, Lisa Stewart, for your suggestion about Google Sites. You are always pushing me to be a better, more efficient, educator.

Digital Teaching Resources

Digital Reflection for Kids

I’ve always loved exit slips, but I often forget to do them, or run out of time during class. In the past, I’ve used exit slips to assess everything from new math strategies to how the class was feeling emotionally. The exit ticket that I used up until recently was the stoplight strategy I saw (stole from) a conference with Carol Ann Tomlinson. The students recorded their response to one of the following three statements:

  1. Something I learned today….
  2. Something I have considered…/I still have a question about…
  3. My learning stopped because…


I always learned so much about my kids from these little pieces of paper. I once saw a student had posted on the red (my learning stopped because…) and had written that his grandfather had recently been diagnosed with cancer, his cat had died, and his mom had been in  car accident. No wonder he was acting out in class! These are the little tid-bits that students might be too shy to say out loud, but reminded me of the NY Times article about what students wished their teachers knew. Here are some gems, one from each category:


More recently, I’ve been doing digital reflections or exit slips. I will either post a question on Google Classroom, or I will create an exit slip in Google Forms. These can be posted during class and take very little effort. I still use the questions above, but now I can go further. The benefits of posting a question on Google Classroom are that I have them all in one place (no more post-it notes all over the place!), I can easily see who has finished them (and who hasn’t), and I can read them whenever (even from home).


I also use Google Forms as exit slips. I can post a picture, say of a straw that looks bent in a glass of water, and have the students explain what scientific phenomenon is occurring. Or I can ask one math problem and have the students post a Doceri video where they work the problem and record their voice as they explain the steps. These can also be private, so only the student and I can see them, if they felt more comfortable than sharing publicly on a poster in the classroom.


Lastly, I’ve used Today’s Meet. This is a website (that works great on iPads, too). Here I can post a discussion question and my students all get to respond. The best part is, like Twitter, they only have 140 characters to respond. I also ask that no answers be repeated. This keeps the kids on their toes, as they have to constantly be reading the feed before they post. I can post the link to Google Classroom and the students love to use this one. Another bonus is I can select how long I want the meet to last, for example one hour, and that way students can’t log in later and have a side conversation when I’m no longer monitoring the feed.