“House Hippo”, Concerned Children’s Advertisers, 1999

If you grew up in Canada in the 90s, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize this public service announcement from Concerned Children’s Advertisers. Its intent was to encourage viewers “to think about what [they’re] watching on TV and ask questions.” Though this commercial is now 20 years old, the message is still just as relevant (if not more so) as it was back then.

The PYP Exhibition is a great opportunity for students in their final year of the IB Primary Years Programme to engage in a personal exploration into an issue or opportunity of significance to them. Though there are opportunities for student-directed inquiries throughout the program, this is the opportunity for students to really take control over creating and engaging in their own unit of inquiry.

This year’s exhibition gave Grade 5 students the opportunity to explore a passion of theirs and use this passion for a purpose (which we defined as one of the five types of action as defined by the PYP.) In the two years prior to this, Exhibition took a different form. Grade 5 students took on the role of journalists and used their curiosity, commitment and determination to investigate and report on newsworthy events locally, nationally, and globally. “We have a responsibility to be truthful,” was the central idea that drove students’ inquiries.

What is news? How do we gather it?
Student generated lists, 2018

Early in the process, discussions focussed on developing students’ understanding of what news is, what makes something newsworthy and how to gather news. It was through these discussions that the topic of “fake news” always came up. While students seemed to have a good understanding that fake news exists, they recognized that they didn’t necessarily have the skills or strategies to spot it and prevent its spread. So, our team of Grade 5 teachers put together the following lesson in order to explore this further.

Link to lesson

PBS, BBC, National Geographic Kids, and Common Sense Media all have great resources that we were able to pull from in order to engage students in this discussion! This lesson was just a starting point for us. As students moved through the Exhibition, discussions were frequently had regarding the “truthfulness” of the information they were collecting and sharing in their stories.

Is it news? Checklist generated by students

While I’m happy with the new Exhibition model we used this year, I am now realizing that we’ve had fewer conversations with students around this issue. Looking forward, our team will need to make sure to embed these into our learning in another way. The ability to think critically about the information you are consuming, regardless of the platform, is a necessary skill for all of us to develop.

To end this post, I just thought I’d share a favourite video for engaging students in these conversations…

Did you know that penguins can fly?