Exhibitions are one of the key distinguishers that makes Big Picture Learning unique. Instead of tests, students at Gibson Ek are assessed through public displays of learning that track their growth and progress in their areas of interest. Assessment is individualized to the student and the real-world criteria of their work. 

While students meet individually with their advisors to evaluate the specific learning targets of their projects, exhibition is the time when students make the case to their parents, mentors, advisor, staff and peers for what they have holistically learned throughout the cycle and how they have learned it. Therefore, exhibition is an assessment of the whole learner, rather than the particulars of a task. 

Students showcase three elements of their learning. These elements are progressive:

  1. Commitment to Personal Vision. Students set a vision for the learning cycle that is authentic to who they are and what they need to pursue their goals. They design work and experiences to move themselves closer to their visions.
  2. Authentic New Learning. Once a vision is in place, students challenge themselves to pursue this vision by engaging in learning that is deep, relevant, authentic and new.
  3. Application & Influence. Ultimately, students push their learning by making it public and designing it in a way that it contributes to the community. They themselves are also integral parts of the community both at Gibson Ek and out in the world. 

Learning Cycle 1 (December) exhibition is a panel exhibition. Students present evidence of what they have learned during the cycle. The panel asks questions and provides feedback and assessment of the learning cycle. The exhibition lasts 50-60 minutes.

Learning Cycle 2 (March) exhibition is a gallery exhibition. Students publicly display a project that demonstrates their strongest design-thinking work. They also provide a portfolio of all of their other work from the cycle. Parents, mentors, advisors, staff, peers and other interested community members visit the “gallery” of displays and ask students questions about their displayed work and work in their portfolio.  

Learning Cycle 3 (June) exhibition is a panel exhibition, but it is also the Level-Up/Gateway/Graduation exhibition for most students. The format changes and the students’ focus is to not only celebrate their work but to also demonstrate meeting the requirements and readiness for the next level.  


  • Completion of 3 Exhibitions each year. Students and their parents are required to participate in each exhibition. 
  • Exhibition Portfolio at each exhibition with all required elements
  • Participation as a student evaluator in other students’ exhibitions
  • Post-exhibition Reflection
  • Additional requirements as specified for each type of exhibition

The Role of the Panel

Panel members are essential to a meaningful exhibition. Parents, mentors, peers and staff ask the students questions that help them articulate their learning, hold them accountable to the work they’ve done to pursue their goals, provide feedback on their learning, and celebrate their growth. 

[From our Student Handbook]