Thursday 30 January 2020

Guest Blog: Improving learning through IMYC Exit Points

Middle Years

Amanda Hart

IMYC Coordinator at Khartoum International Community School

I am fortunate enough to be the IMYC coordinator at Khartoum International Community School (KICS) in Sudan. At KICS, the Year 7/8/9 cohorts are each made up of two groups of learners; all of which are taught by a wonderful team of enthusiastic, supportive and knowledgeable teachers. This year, there has been a focus on improving our Exit Point structure.

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Exit Points are fantastic opportunities for our learners to collaborate with their peers in other classes, learn new media skills, all while demonstrating their personal connections and understanding of the Big Idea. Not only are students able to celebrate their learning, but the exploratory nature of the Exit Points enables students to delve into their personal interests and to express themselves as individuals. Students have the freedom to choose the research question they wish to explore with their group as long as they identify the connection to the Big Idea. 

Currently, our Exit Point process is broken down into four main components: Media Hour; Exit Point Planning Discussion; Exit Point Work Day and Exit Point Presentation Day.

Media Hour

During one homeroom period during the unit, different teachers take the lead in introducing the media that students will use for the upcoming Exit Point. Each year level is assigned a certain media type to be used for their Exit Point. In our last unit, Year 7's created a Powtoon, Year 8's organised a social media campaign, and photo journals were made by our Year 9's. During the Media Hour, teachers demonstrate skills required for the particular media the students will be using.  

Exit Point Planning Discussion

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During the Exit Point planning discussion, we gather as a whole middle school in our assembly hall. At this time, learners pair up with a student in another year level and share their subject learning over the past 8 weeks. After this, learners sit with their year levels. Paper is laid out on the tables and learners write their Big Idea in the middle. In small groups, learners record meaningful topics they could explore for their Exit Points. Teachers roam and facilitate conversations to help students with the connections. Once ideas have been flowing, students meet up with their Exit Point Presentation group member(s). Students begin to complete their Exit Point Planning document (which is introduced in the Implementing the IMYC course). Being a shared document (GoogleDoc) allows students to collaborate outside of school hours whilst allowing teachers to access them and provide feedback. The Exit Point Planning document is due before the Exit Point Work Day which ensures the students come prepared. 

Exit Point Work Day

On the Exit Point Work Day, learners have the whole school day to collaborate with their groups. They follow their regular timetable and teachers support their learning by facilitating conversations to strengthen their connections to the Big Idea. 

Exit Point Presentation Day

Exit Point Presentation Day starts off with students meeting in their groups to check their technology and ensure their presentation is ready to go. Depending on the media used, different organisational formats are utilised. One of the needs of the adolescent brain is to take risks in a safe environment. To support this, multiple presentations are occurring at the same time to smaller audiences. This also allows learners to present their Exit Point more than once.  After each presentation, all audience members, including parents and teachers, provide feedback in the form of two stars and a wish. 

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After lunch, learners come together to read their feedback. Once they have digested the feedback, they complete their reflection with guiding questions. In these guiding questions, students answer “For us teachers, what do you want us to know about the Exit Point process? What would you keep the same about the Exit Point preparation? What would you change about the structure of the Exit Point?”. Personally, I love reading their responses to these questions as it helps identify strengths and next steps in supporting our learners and continually improving the Exit Point process. A large number of students have mentioned how they appreciated having the work day before their Exit Point presentation day. 

To cap off the day, we bring together all year levels for a House event. A friendly competition has been a great way to wrap up a great day of celebrating learning!

This is by no means the perfect or only format for Exit Points and we recognise that this is a work in process - routines and improvements take time to implement. To further support our students, our next Exit Points will include clear success criteria for the content and media being used. If you wish to bounce ideas around for Exit Points, please do not hesitate to contact me! 

Happy Learning!

Find out more about the International Middle Years Curriculum