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Deep learning, authentic reflection: Bitney Prep students present exhibitions

Submitted to The Union

At the end of each semester, every Bitney Prep student stands before an audience of their peers, their teachers, their parents and their mentors to delivers a 45-minute presentation in which they reflect upon their experiences, their learning, their lives and their direction. These exhibitions are an integral part of how Bitney Prep prepares its students for their futures.

“Exhibitions are a culminating event for students,” says Bitney senior Camryn Ahhaitty. “Students use them as an opportunity to make sense of their lives, why things happened the way they did, and reflect on the part they played in the outcomes. One of the things I really like about exhibitions is that while it is our own presentation, it’s also interactive. The audience often asks compelling questions that force us to think deeper. It’s that kind of community building and trust that makes Bitney such a special place.”

Bitney’s Director Jonathan Molnar agrees. “Exhibitions give students a chance to reflect upon where they are going in their education and share those insights. That is an authentic opportunity for deep learning that a lot of schools don’t always provide for their students.”

While Bitney students have expected guidelines to follow for the basic structure of their exhibition, how they choose to manifest those guidelines is entirely up to the student.

“Bitney treats all of its students as individuals,” says Molnar, “And we educate one student at a time. Exhibitions are an example of this philosophy come to life. Each exhibition is unique and personalized. You really get to know the students after watching their presentations.”

As Bitney’s 90 or so students spend all day, every Wednesday, at an internship of their choice, that experience takes up a major part of their exhibitions. Bitney has student interns all over the county, at local veterinarian hospitals, radio stations, artist studios, newspapers, automotive repair shops, elementary schools and other small businesses of every shape and size.

Senior Camryn Ahhaitty thinks that having her mentor in the audience during her exhibition really elevates the stakes. “It’s almost like a performance report when my mentor is there. It’s way more authentic than just presenting to my teacher or classmates. The stakes are higher because they mean more to me.”

“Having all of our students be able to stand before an audience for 45 minutes and really examine their learning and their motivation is a testament to the great things we are doing at Bitney,” said Molnar.

Source: Bitney Prep High School.

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