Deciding the date of your exhibition will help you determine your class’s timeline and what is possible to present.  

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Topic: When?

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Deciding the date of your exhibition will help you determine your class’s timeline and what is possible to present.

Determining the date of your exhibition is important to the overall course because, establishing a timeline allows you to structure a plan for your student exhibition and it will give you an idea of the project’s feasibility.

Think of this like the “save-the-date” cards that are sent out to notify guests that they should hold a day in their calendar for an event. Choosing that date first, establishes an organizational point around which you can pivot the planning of the event. A wedding that’s planned for over a year will be planned differently from a wedding that’s planned to occur within a month. The same is true for a student exhibition.

Activity 1: Host a micro-exhibition with your class at the end of your current school week.

Activity Notes: 

Doing this activity will give you a crash course in the habits needed for running exhibitions. You’ll be able to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t. You’ll be surprised how motivated students become when you say, “We’re going to have an exhibition of your work in two days!”

Completing this micro-exhibition can be helpful in understanding the basic mechanics of an exhibition -- even if things go wrong and the exhibition isn’t as good as you, or the students, imagined it would be. Failure shouldn’t be something that you’re afraid of at any stage in the process. Failing while completing this smaller exhibition will also prepare you and your students for success in a much larger exhibition with higher stakes.

Here are some ideas for micro-exhibitions:

  • Have your students write a single page story and prepare a short recital for a neighboring class.
  • Look for math in the real world, from sports, to art, to the grocery store, and curate a mini math exhibition to share with another class.
  • Teach your students how to sing 17th century songs to serenade the hallway of your school before the end of an upcoming school day.*
* For exhibition ideas with a focus on online spaces, please be sure to subscribe to our Exhibiting Student Work in Virtual Environments Micro-Course once you’ve completed this main course.

Activity 2: Map out your calendar year and see what days could best host an exhibition.

Activity Notes: 

Find a few possible dates on your calendar that fit this description and start thinking about what kind of work you can have your students do and showcase.

Considerations for your choosing a date:

  • Choose a day within the school year where you can spend that whole week only focusing on exhibition prep.
  • Consider dates where there will not be any testing or large, school-wide events. 
  • Try not to plan near or around major holidays.
  • Remember that the week of an exhibition students should only be focused on the exhibition

Case Study

The English department decided to try project-based learning to better implement some of the Common Core standards. In the first semester, the teachers determined to plan an exhibition as the project wrapped up, but the plans fell apart because the teachers felt that the products were not good enough to formally exhibit, and in some cases, no products existed because students never completed their work due to conflicting events and final exams. 
In the second semester, they changed their approach by analyzing the semester calendar when they returned from winter break. They agreed on a date for the exhibition and a week that they could dedicate to organizing the event. They used backwards design to set up interim due dates for students, and continually reminded students that the exhibition -- a book launch -- was fast approaching.

Weeks before the exhibition, students had to finish their work in order to send it to the publisher. Students were reminded that if they did not meet this deadline, they would not be able to exhibit their work. The teachers had a lot more success, and were able to spend the week before the exhibition preparing students to present their work. The book launch was an exciting community event, featuring students reading from their books, talks from local authors, and students presenting a visual process of the writing journey they took from idea to published work.


Below is a preview of some of the additional readings, videos, comics, and other resources to enhance your learning regarding this email’s topic. You can review these materials in full by going to the course landing page.


Sample Exhibition Timeline
This mock exhibition timeline shows what is important to consider when planning your exhibition. For more free exhibition resources, sign up for the Share Your Learning campaign.


You can help us!

If you have any resources that you think people would benefit course participants, email us at Simply put “Exhibiting Student Work Resource Submission” in the email subject. Send us the file and remember to tell us which email lesson you think it should be a part of in the body of the email. We’ll review it and get back to you if we decide to use it!

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