What are students getting out of the personal project?
How can we involve them and celebrate their success?
Three years ago, when I was the personal project coordinator, I asked my students "How are you going to tell your story in the exhibition?" They did not quite understand what I meant. In the previous years, students presented their project in the exhibition and often the focus was on the product rather than the process. Students introduced what they made but they did not always market their story and connect with the audience emotionally.
At KIS, our vision is inspiring individuals. Our aim is to inspire individuals, while we hope that our students and other members of the community in return can go out into the world and inspire others. I feel the exhibition is a perfect opportunity for students to inform, educate and/or inspire the audience. To help students visualize how to share their story more effectively, I share Jake Andraka's TED talk with students (00:00-01:54).
The first year I did not really know what I was doing. I only knew that I would like to create an opportunity for students to inspire others and for the audience to have an insight of the personal project process. The second year, I asked the students again, "How are you going to tell your story?" Students who had attended the previous exhibition, and this cohort did not want to give a speech. So they organized themselves into different committees and created job descriptions to plan for their exhibition. I was truly amazed. Then I asked them how they were going to advertise the event. They created a promotional poster and 6-word memoir video to invite people to visit their exhibition. Next, we discussed how the exhibition should be organized and how the audience might interact with the presenters and the exhibition space. Students took one step further and they came up with an exhibition theme, accompanying with a floor plan and a brochure to introduce the presenters. They also selected MCs to host their own events and curated a music playlist for the exhibition. I reminded them that a good exhibition requires rehearsals. They wrote key ideas about what they wanted to share with the audience and they rehearsed with each other a couple of times before the exhibition. It was an excellent exhibition and students developed an ownership of this event. Working with this group of students, I experienced the power of providing students choice and voice, which are the two important ingredients to develop student agency and therefore develop inspiring individuals.
Having seeing the great exemplar, students followed similar process and forming their task force teams. The theme that students decided on was Metro. They used different subway lines to represent six different global contexts. There were several artists and designers in this chord, and they even decided the color scheme for their exhibition. The video students made was excellent and captured the essence of the personal project. The audience were so impressed and one of the parent who worked for Dior actually awarded internship opportunities to two students!
Students keep raising the bar. The theme students decided on was Monopoly. The reason that students had chose the Monopoly theme was because they felt the personal project itself is a game of wit and tack, and also filled with opportunities popping up left and right. Sometimes, it also felt like being in jail. The teams had worked together to plan and curate their exhibition by working out the following:
- Music playlist
- Monoproject logo
- Floor plan
- Group equipment & material request
- MCs & scripts
- Advertising poster
- Exhibition brochures
- QR codes for their products
- Introduction video