5 Elements of Cutting-Edge Exhibition Assessments in Schools

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5 Elements of Cutting-Edge Exhibition Assessments in Schools

It is no secret that the traditional educational model that existed for centuries is no longer effective in today’s 21st Century landscape. At Hilltop we realize that our students will eventually be entering a workforce where the jobs have yet to be imagined. Therefore, it is our responsibility to provide an education and schoolwide experience that is relevant in today’s world and the future, and that will prepare them for secondary school and beyond.  Clearly, the traditional subject area knowledge and skills still must be taught as the cornerstone of learning, but the traditional way of teaching this must change to meet the demands of this new landscape in order to fully prepare our students for what lies ahead. As John Larmer wrote in his article, Building Parent Support for Project Based Learning, “Students need to be good critical thinkers, problem solvers, and creative innovators. They have to know how to work well in teams and they need to be able to communicate in a variety of media and to various audiences, often across cultures and borders.”

Of course these core competencies alone will not accomplish all that is needed for our students to thrive. Students at Hilltop adhere to key attitudinal values such as “being responsible”, “eager to learn”, and “persistent”. These speak specifically to students developing strong habits of mind. Couple this with Hilltop’s commitment to engage its students, provide vehicles for emerging technologies, and redefining rigor so that the curriculum is challenging, dynamic, and connected, and you have a school that is not only Future Ready, but beyond compare.

One of the ways that we grow this mindset is to have our teachers utilize an alternate form of assessment known as an exhibition. Many schools are stuck in the past with their forms of assessment which are static and routine and require a regurgitation of material learned. Exhibitions, however, are dynamic, vibrant, and have the student actively at the center and they encompass 5 key elements:

  1. Authentic purpose – The exhibition, in most cases, is geared towards having the student presenters teach their audience something.
  2. Assessment purpose –The exhibition audience members are able to give instant feedback about the presentations which the students and teacher can review at a later time.
  3. Accountability – Parents could see that their children were experiencing true academic learning and modelling 21st Century competencies known as the “ 4 C’s” (critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication).
  4. Messaging/Informational purpose – Exhibitions showcase the relevance and need for Project Based Learning (PBL).
  5. Celebration – The exhibition is a culmination and celebration of all the hard work.

Hilltop is an amazing place and not just because of the advanced nature of our pedagogy, instructional methods and curriculum. It is an amazing school because of the excellent faculty, incredible student body, and wonderfully supportive parents. Hilltop is committed to being a Future Ready school and exhibitions are but one of the vehicles that help get us there. They inspire a level of initiative, drive, and commitment much greater than the other traditional forms of assessment.

-Peter Gordon, head of school