About Student Exhibitions

Exhibitions are public presentations by students about what they have done and what they have learned. Students give an oral presentation on their personal Learning Plan (LP) and Learning Through Internship (LTI) work. The audience may consist of the advisory teacher, parents, peers, mentors and other teachers. Big Picture schools personalize learning for every student and Exhibitions provide an authentic way to assess each student’s learning and development.

How it works

Student presentations occur at the end of each quarter and demonstrate each individual student’s progress toward Learning Goals for that marking period. Students present their projects and growth to a panel of their peers, parents, advisor, principal, and other guests. Each exhibition takes approximately 30-45 minutes. . The interaction between the student and the audience creates a whole new level of communication where the student is at the center, but is also receiving input from everyone about his or her learning. Students share their work, sometimes in portfolio format, showing evidence of learning through LTI/shadow days/service-learning experiences (see below), the completion of an internship project, exploration of a particular career field or topic of interest, participation in a college course, progress with a newly acquired skill or interest, development in written expression, aesthetic expression, and/ or growth in personal qualities. Student exhibitions are a learning tool, because it allows the student to explore what makes them unique. Even the struggling exhibitions end up teaching students about the importance of preparation and planning, helping them build their public speaking skills, and giving them a clear picture of what they’ll need to work on before their next quarter exhibition.

The benefits

The exhibitions allow students to share passionately about a product or information they have an interest in learning about through their own design and provide opportunities for conversations about the learning process among the students, advisors, peers, and parents. Exhibitions put students at the center of their learning, hold them accountable for meeting the required learning goals, and emphasize the process of learning, not just their final product, which is more meaningful than bubbling in the correct answer on a test (Littky & Grabelle, 2004). Students share that incorporating their interests “makes it easier” to engage in the lessons or work they are doing in class or their internships. The general structure of the school creates an environment that fosters a love for learning through relevant and interest-based content and projects. Students report the amount of effort they put into their work contributes to the literature on how centering learning around students’ interests can increase motivation and engagement.