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Responsible actions can change the world

At the end of this term, our Year 6 students will present a virtual PYP Exhibition, showcasing their learning as well as their commitment to hope and positive change.

On Monday 30 November, the Wenona community will come together for a virtual celebration of our students' independent learning at what will be Wenona’s inaugural Year 6 PYP Exhibition. Exploring this Unit of Inquiry into Sharing the Planet has enabled Year 6 to apply the skills and knowledge they’ve developed within the IB’s PYP Programme. The students have been given the freedom and agency to explore an issue of their choice centred around the central idea: Responsible actions can change the world.

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The Year 6 PYP Exhibition will be an opportunity for our young people to demonstrate their ability to learn independently and take responsibility for their learning; to explore an issue of their choice from multiple perspectives not just their own; to reflect on their learning; and to inspire hope and prompt change by raising awareness of their chosen issue to their fellow students, teachers, parents and other members of the School community.

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The range of topics that our students have chosen to explore is as diverse as they are; they reflect their individual interests, experiences and the areas they are most passionate about. For example, Ali is looking at people who are stateless, and Annie, child brides. Evie is exploring kelp farming, whereas Nora and Lulu are both focusing on fast fashion. Aurelia is looking at disability, Alice, sustainable architecture, and Clemency, freedom of speech.

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Before students narrowed down their topic of choice, the Year 6 teachers spent a considerable amount of time developing engaging provocations for the girls, that would prompt them to explore different ideas and reflect on them from both a local and a global perspective.

Students were asked to consider all issues from an international mindset, with a definition of international mindedness displayed in English, French and Chinese, reflecting the languages the students learn in Junior School.

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One of the Year 6 classrooms was dedicated to case study examples to spark their curiosity or their interest, along with QR codes to link them to more in-depth information. This included the Gorman and Mankaja Arts Collaboration, the Choir of Hard Knocks, The Hunger Project and The Seabin Project – all examples of what can happen when individual voices merge to create a movement for change.

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The Year 6 corridor was lined with pictures and profiles of inspirational women who’ve all made a difference across a wide variety of areas. They included Olympic athlete and the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to win a gold medal, Cathy Freeman, climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, and Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban after publicly speaking out about her fight to protect girls’ education. Students also listened to a TED talk that explored the concept of global citizenship, as well as discussing the role and work of the United Nations.

Students were asked to close their eyes and imagine a world at peace. They were asked to share what inspired them.

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And then, guided by a darkened space, gentle mediative music and twinkling tree lights, the girls were invited to reflect on what they had learned and to take a symbolic first step towards action by writing down their wishes for the world and tying it to the tree. Their wishes included an eco-friendly world, dignity, equity and respect for all people, and more positivity and understanding.

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To assist them in the practicalities of preparing their project of choice, Year 6 then attended a series of workshops designed to help them think creatively and purposefully about the presentation of their work. The workshops centred around critical thinking skills and developing a line of inquiry; file storage and IT workflow; sourcing copyright-free images and using QR codes; email etiquette; making effective video content; process journal presentation and use; and presentation planning and visual engagement.

The girls were encouraged to choose a topic that was interesting to them in order to make the research process more engaging and fun. They were also told to consider the scope of their topic. After all, if a topic is too broad, it is hard to find information that is focused and relevant, but if it’s too narrow, it can be tricky to find enough existing information.

Once the girls had chosen their topic, they were each assigned a mentor, including some of the Junior School teachers, Deputy Principal (Staff and Strategy), Mr Mark Staker, Deputy Principal (Academic Learning), Ms Diana Drummond, and Head of Allard House and PDHPE Teacher, Ms Cat Minifie. The aim of the mentors is to ensure that the project is a meaningful and authentic learning experience for each girl.

Since the end of Term 3, students have been meeting up with their mentor each week to brainstorm their ideas, workshop their progress and to bring new perspectives to conversations about leveraging tools and resources, all of which helps to strengthen student learning outcomes. The mentors offer advice, expand students’ thinking and help them to source resources effectively – websites, people, places, books – as well as assisting them to interpret data or complex information. They also play a key role in helping students to stay focused, structure their research, record their progress, and achieve their goals in a realistic timeframe. They might encourage them to consider a different perspective or they might suggest ways that students can make their project more engaging for their chosen audience. Above all, our mentors serve as cheerleaders from the sidelines, offering words of encouragement and wisdom along the way. The ideas, resources, and expertise that have surfaced as a result of mentoring have been significant in moving students forward in their research.

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As part of their PYP Exhibition, Year 6 students have also been working on a collaborative artwork focused on an issue they feel passionate about: coral bleaching. Climate change is disrupting natural systems and wiping out species. And nowhere is this destruction more apparent than in coral reefs. Through their artwork, Year 6 hope to draw awareness to the plight of coral reefs, and the delicate ecosystems they support. They hope their artwork will make a difference by inspiring people to use their skills to do whatever they can to protect our oceans.

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Year 6, their teachers and their mentors are all working together to help bring the PYP Exhibition to fruition. They are looking forward to the opportunity to share their inquiry learning with their parents when the exhibition goes live at the end of term. More details about this will be distributed in the coming weeks.

Yep! Responsible actions can definitely change the world. Great work everyone!