Step-by-Step Through the IB PYP Exhibition

The IB PYP Exhibition is like learning to drive. You always remember that very first time you were in the driving seat and how daunting it all seemed. Well, dear friends, if you are about to embark on that journey through the PYP Exhibition, hold onto your hats! It is definitely one of those wild rides but so very worth it.  If you’re new or newish to the Exhibition (PYPX), then my hope is that this article will help to make your journey a bit more smooth. I’ll provide an outline that demonstrates the steps and timeline of the process that you can print and take away with you and I have a video to share from The PYP Traveller’s You Tube channel. Let’s dive in! 

 Form & Function: What is this Exhibition exactly?

It is a celebration of the children’s knowledge and skills throughout their PYP experience. It is a culmination of a substantial inquiry involving self reflection, collaboration, inquiry, action and  presentation to an audience. It is an opportunity for the pupils to share their message with their community and even the world! In summary, the International Baccalaureate Organisation’s  ( IBO) guidelines state that the key purposes of the Exhibition are:

“for students to engage in an in-depth, collaborative inquiry
to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate independence and responsibility for their
own learning
to provide students with an opportunity to explore multiple perspectives
for students to synthesize and apply their learning of previous years and to reflect upon their journey”

Key Points to Keep in Mind

The Essential Elements: PYPX incorporates the essential elements of the PYP, (which are now a part of the three pillars- the learner, learning & teaching and the learning community)  including the values of the PYP and gives students the chance to develop and display the attributes of the IB learner profile. It will give the children the chance to demonstrate their skills, their knowledge and gives them a voice to make a difference in the community and/or world.

This is an easy to implement tool that comes in printable format as well as digital for Google classrooms. It will walk you through the process.

Student Agency: Teachers and mentors act as facilitators throughout the journey. You want much of the decisions to be made by the children themselves. If you spend enough time,  throughout the year and certainly during the first few weeks of the Exhibition, demonstrating routines and expectations, this should flow smoothly. Students will also decide what action to take to solve an identifiable local problem that also relates globally. My IB PYP Exhibition Journal is designed to enable a very self-directed approach from the children, taking the onus off of you and encouraging their independence with discussions, planning, reflection and next steps throughout their journey.

Collaboration & Community: The Exhibition unites the students, teachers, parents and other members of the school community in a collaborative experience.

Student Groups: The students are grouped according to similar interests/issues that they wish to explore further with their inquiry. You can guide the children towards grouping themselves with no more than 5 in a group. I’m not going to kid you, this can be a tricky to implement, so spend time sharing and categorising the kids’ suggestions for inquiry topics, comparing, contrasting and grouping similar ideas.

Mentors: Volunteers come from a pool of teachers, family, local community members and experts.  They can be assigned to particular groups randomly or based on their expertise tying in with the groups’ specific inquiries. They work as facilitators, supporting the group with their schedule of work, mediating discussions, decisions and assisting with field trips and interviews.

Spend time reflecting on the role of a mentor.

Floating Mentors: This type of mentor is more flexible and rather than working with only one assigned group, will float between groups and/or individuals, when a group needs more guidance or requires additional scaffolding.

Reflection: An omnipresent element, students reflect upon their journey across every step, more than just what they’ve learned about.  It should be done as on-going self-assessment of ATL skills, peer assessment & group reflection. By the end of the journey, the children are expected to reflect on their whole experience. With a consistent record of reflective thinking kept throughout the process, this final reflection is much easier to complete succinctly. My IB PYP Journal offers complete reflection records for the journey. You can learn more about ways to manage and encourage this in the video below.

Reflection, every step of the way.

Teacher/Group Reflection Time: Try to stagger scheduled times to meet with each group on a weekly basis; discuss their evaluation of their progress and timing,  ensuring that they know when their next meeting will be with you and/or their mentor.

Assessment: Most assessment within the IB PYP is integral throughout the  learning process and the PYPX provides an authentic means for assessing student understanding, skills and agency. You will want to document this throughout the process and have the children record their assessment of themselves too. ( see Reflection above)

Celebration: Traditionally, the PYPX celebrates the transition of learners from primary to middle/secondary education. But I believe that the entire journey through he PYPX is a celebration. Really. Even when it all seem like it is never going to come together, celebrate that you’ve come this far and celebrate what everyone has learned about themselves so far through the process.


The Journey in Brief 

So, the process unfolds something like this…

  • A powerful provocation to get the learners thinking and wondering
  • Tuning in activities to review the Essential Elements & ensure understanding
  • Comparing, contrasting and categorising issues/inquiries.
  • Students chose their areas of interest and group themselves
  • Create central ideas and lines of inquiry
  • Assign mentors to help them on their journeys of inquiry.
  • Questions are formulated and research begins
  • Lots of reading, searching, analysing, synthesising and organising information.
  • Arrange meetings, field trips, interviews with primary sources
  • Students plan and take action
  • Exploration of the topic through a choice of creative expression
  • Plan and format presentations- think BEYOND only poster boards and slide shows.
  • Reflect, reflect, reflect throughout! 

Timeline: Over a period of approximately 6 weeks.

Six week, step-by-step timeline.

Take a look at this timeline and you may use it as a guide for your own PYPX experience. It is included within the IB PYP Exhibition Journal and the complete set of resources for PYPX prep too.  But, if you’d like a free copy, simply drop your e mail address into the box STEPS TO THE PYPX  and I will send it to you directly.

Meanwhile, enjoy the video below from The PYP Traveller, as I chat about The Journey through the Exhibition.


I am going to follow this article with a post on taking action in the IB PYP. I hope that you’ll stay tuned. You can receive all updates by subscribing, so you won’t miss out.



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