Throwback to visiting the National Gallery of Canada last summer in Ottawa.
A special highlight was standing under Louise Bourgeois' towering Mamen, as well as visiting the Alex Colville painting exhibition. I was also very excited to see the work of one of my painting mentors and professors, Gu Xiong, displayed in the Colville exhibit.
During the spring, I treated myself to some after-school professional development in the form of ceramic classes. As an art teacher, I know that I should be comfortable and knowledgable in ceramics, however my undergraduate program did not have facilities available for ceramics so I have never had much experience it. So, even though I was deep into my long practicum, I decided to spend my Wednesday nights at the beautiful West Point Grey community centre (located in the Aberthau heritage mansion) learning wheel building and hand building pottery techniques.
Although I started off slow, by the end of the ten weeks I had created a collection of unique (if not unusual) pottery pieces for my home. This course taught me a lesson in patience and the importance of a growth-mindset; although I was frustrated at the beginning that I would never succeed, eventually with practice I was able to do it.
I hope to continue taking classes once I settle into Calgary - I still have much to learn!
During my practicum at West Van Secondary, I tried out an assignment with my Art West students using .gif technology. These students were fairly experienced with digital technology and were advanced users of photoshop, so I had them create .gif animations using photoshop as the final assignment for our unit on illustration. Most students chose to hand-draw the frames for the animation, then photograph and upload them into photoshop were they completed the animation, however one students chose to create the whole drawing using digital software (see below.)
When I moved to Mulgrave School and began working with the younger students (grade 7-8), I wanted to do another .gif assignment but knew I would not be able to have the students make it in photoshop because the technology was not available and most students had never worked in the program before.
Luckily, a couple free websites exist that do all the work for you, making this assignment accessible for nearly any age level!
www.gifcreator.me and www.gifmaker.me are two very similar sites that allow you to build .gif animations easily using any collection of .jpeg images. For the younger students, I had them hand draw 4-6 frames for the animation, using light tables or a window to help quickly reproduce the images. The key is to have each image just slightly different from the last image, so that when played quickly in succession, the image appears to move (just like a traditional flip book.)Then, students photographed their work using their cell-phones or the digital cameras in the classroom, and uploaded it to the website where they can modify the speed, music, and size of the animation.
In the future, I would also like to do this assignment with photography that students have taken, to make real-life gifs!
While .gifs are an awesome way to introduce students to simple animation in art class, they can also be used in any other classroom subject area by students to show their understanding of a concept, process, or skill.
Additionally, .gifs can be created and used by the teacher as a teaching tool. For a class on multiliteracies, I created a slideshow using gifs synced to music to show the steps involved in darkroom processing in a way that was more engaging and descriptive than the textbook I had in my practicum classroom.
Professional Learning Communities
Over the past three weeks, I have been collaborating with another teacher candidate in a professional learning community centred around Place Based Education (PBE). Since we both come from an Arts background (her, drama, and me, visual art,) we were most interested in discovering how an Arts education can use PBE to bridge connections between the other subject areas and make learning relevant and meaningful for students.
The following are the highlights from the findings of our collaborative investigation, as well as opportunities for BC educators wanting to engage with PBE with their students.
What is Place Based Education?
Place Based Education (PBE) is an educational philosophy rooted in the local communities in which the students participate. It values the environment, people, and culture of a space as a site in which meaningful learning can take place, while also emphasizing the themes, systems, and content of the local curriculum. It often involves project-based learning, where students work on ongoing collaborative projects designed to work with and work for the space in which they are engaging with. While PBE could be done inside the classroom, it is best achieved when students are given opportunities to leave the school and participate in the environments and communities in which they are learning through and about. PBE is student-centred learning guided by strong and varied partnerships with other experts, organizations, community members, etc.
Why is it important?
PBE makes learning relevant and personally meaningful for the learner. It engages interdisciplinary perspectives and content objectives, while teaching students to be involved community members and environmental stewards. The hands-on approach helps to crystallize learning and leads to a deeper understanding of the key topics, issues, and objectives of the lesson. Further, it (re)-establishes connections between learners and the neighbourhoods and communities in which they live, and can promote ecological literacy and social activism.
Links to First Peoples' Principles of Learning
PBE is rooted in an educational philosophy used for millenniums by the indigenous communities with whom we share the land. Below are the three principles of learning that are best supported by PBE.
Principle 1: Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the spirits, and the ancestors.
PBE engaged students with the community and fosters a respect for and responsibility to the people, animals, environment, and histories that share the space with them. Further, students will investigate their own role and identity within the community and better understand how to contribute to society in positive ways.
Principle 2: Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relationship (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
PBE includes hands-on, experiential learning that incorporates cross-disciplinary investigations. When implemented correctly, students will be given ample opportunities for reflection on the interconnectedness of parts within the environment, and the ways in which they can both contribute to and benefit from the community.
Principle 3: Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
By moving into the community and environments where learning takes place, students will engage with the stories of community members, and the histories of the places in which they live and participate.
Place-based Art Education
Place-based education is ideal for any classroom because of its focus on interdisciplinary themes and real-world understandings. However, we are particularly interested in how art classes might use place-based education in their curriculum to increase student engagement and creative output. Hilary Inwood, from the University of Toronto, suggests that place-based art not only gives students a communicative tool to share their learning and perspectives and make connections with the community members they are engaging with, but also engages their affective and subjective orientations to content that make learning more meaningful. Using the local community also provides a source of imagery and inspiration for students' art making, and promotes collaborative engagement both with the other students and with the community members and local audiences. In this way, students engage in social, political, and environmental issues, and discover ways to be stewards and activists for these issues. Some examples of the research used in place-based art settings include: walking tours of the neighbourhood, researching history and cultural traditions, talking with community members and elders, sharing personal stories and experiences. Once research is collected, students may create murals, mosaics, drawings and paintings, collages, maps, quilts, drumming circles, songs, drama skits, hand-woven baskets, ice-sculptures, wood sculptures, etc. to communicate their learning and share messages with their community.
Tips for designing a PBE unit
1. Look for opportunities within the local community of the school. Identify areas of need, or areas of interest to the students.
2. Consider length of engagement. While PBE can take place during one day (like a field trip), students will benefit most from a longer term arrangement.
3. Consider the relevancy of your chosen site. Make sure it is somewhere that supports your content and learning objectives while also being relevant and exciting for your students.
4. While many PBE programs take place in nature, PBE can also occur in urban environments. Look for opportunities around the school to learn about the people, businesses, and environment that share the school's community, as well as the histories of the buildings, land, and cultures that exist nearby.
5. Look for help from community members, organizations, etc. PBE works best when students are learning from a variety of mentors, not just the teacher.
Examples of PBE in BC
www.freshroots.ca | Urban farm at David Thompson Secondary School in Vancouver. The school partners with a non-profit organization who manages the garden, grows food for the community and provides a space for learning.
www.seatosky.bc.ca | Sea to Sky Outdoor Education School on Gambier Island. Community-based ecology and sustainability focused programming for elementary and secondary students.
www.hctfeducation.ca/wildbc | WildBC provides programming for elementary schools to engage with hands-on environmental education.
www.es.sd42.ca | Environmental School Project is a partnership between SD42 (Maple Ridge) and Simon Fraser University. The school is based on environmental and community-based education through experiential inquiry.
Edutopia.org. (2015, 10 November 2015). Place-Based Learning: Using Your Location as a Classroom. [Weblog]. Retrieved 20 July 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/practice/place-based-learning-using-your-location-classroom
Inward, H. J. (2008). At the Crossroads: Situating Place-based Art Education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 13(1), 29-37.
Promiseofplace.org. (2016). Promiseofplaceorg. Retrieved 20 July, 2016, from http://www.promiseofplace.org
Roy, R. (2014). Place-based Environmental Education. Retrieved 20 July, 2016, from https://sustain.ubc.ca/sites/sustain.ubc.ca/files/Sustainability Scholars/GCS reports 2014/GCS Environmental Ed report Sept. 2014.pdf
Hastings Hole-In-One Tournament
This weekend was filled with fun and games and kids as I volunteered with the Writers' Exchange at their mini-golf fundraiser supporting literacy programming for inner-city kids. Each of the nine holes had a different literary theme, ranging from Max from Where the Wild Things Are, to Harry Potter, to the popular "Piggie and Elephant" books from Mo Willems. Our course had one exciting variation from a typical putt-putt course however, and that was that each hole had a secret trivia questions, that if answered correctly, would allow each member of the team to subtract one point from their score for that hole.
On Friday night, we held a tournament for sponsors, friends, and families, which was won by our talented friends at Juice Truck, and on Saturday and Sunday, our course was open to the public as a pay-what-you-can (or free!) drop-in event. We also had a button-making station for kids (I was lucky enough to receive TWO gifted handmade buttons from some of the awesome kids I work with weekly - below,) a photo station, and a large selection of our awesome kid-made published books available for sale, including the popular colouring book, choose your own adventure book, and Vancouver tour guide.
A big thank you to all the other volunteers who came out, the teams who participated in the Friday night tournament, the AMAZING team of volunteers from Home Depot who helped build each of the holes, and most of all, to the incredible kids and their families who joined us this weekend. I feel very lucky to have been able to hang out with them all this weekend!
For more photos from the event (and of all the other exciting things we get up to at Writers' Exchange, visit the Instagram page. For more info about volunteering, donating, or registration, visit the website.
Splatter Paint Party
Not practicum related - but still super fun for a future art teacher!
This weekend I was invited to a very special little man's 5th birthday party at 4Cats Art studio in North Vancouver. This wasn't just any birthday party though.. it was a SPLATTER PAINT PARTY. Seriously, I had so much fun watching the kids fling paint across the room all while making beautiful works of art in the style of Jackson Pollock. Almost as fun was watching the looks on all the parent's faces as they came to collect their paint-soaked kids.
There's nothing like watching kids get so excited about art and play!
Happy Birthday Caelan! Thanks for including me in your awesome art-themed party.
Public Art Field Trip
I joined Mulgrave's grade 9 MYP art class on their field trip to check out some of the public art that is within our communities and to collect materials for student's own mixed-media/recycles sculptures. We began at the Mulgrave totem pole, then headed out to East Van to look at Marcus Bowcott's take on a different kind of totem (below.) Then we walked up Main street to see a few more examples of art installations (one we could walk under and one we had to look way, way up to find) before stopping for lunch. Our final stop was at Urban Source on Main St. where we spend lots of time exploring all the treasures that are to be found in this recycled materials alternative art store.
After returning to school, students spent the remaining minutes in class excitedly planning for their own sculptures.
Don't Laugh, It's A Tragedy!
Working with the grade six students and teachers at Mulgrave school has been a real highlight of my time at Mulgrave school. I am in awe of the amount of work that has gone into the production over the past few months and grateful that I have been included during my community field experience. These students wrote the scripts, acted the scenes, designed and made props, helped with costumes, and lent their musical and dance talents to the final performances. Also included were the grade 1-5 drama club who were absolutely adorable in their roles in the play. Throughout the past two weeks, I have been working with students to build stage props and set decorations for the play, including a massive papier mache rock that Prometheus gets chained to during the show.
Below are some photos documenting the process of building the rock!
Also check out my review of the play for Mulgrave's weekly Arts Connection Column for more about the show.
Pinch Pots with the Grade 2s
I LOVED spending time with three different grade 2 classes this week and learning all about where clay comes from and how artists use it to make sculptures! The grade 2s were full of questions and even taught me a few things about soil. Through play, exploration, and development of real artistic skills and techniques, the grade 2s made beautiful and unique pinch pots to give to their mom's for mother's day this weekend. Each one is so special and different from the others - I can't wait to see them once they have their coloured glazes added and they've all been fired!
MashUp: The Birth of Culture
Today was an awesome day, as I was able to join the grade ten MYP art class at Mulgrave School on their school field trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Mashup is the VAG's largest exhibition ever, with thirty contributing curators and artwork spanning more than a hundred years. The students had a great time exploring the first and fourth floors of the exhibit, representing the digital age, and early 20th century respectively. The visit fit perfectly in with our class discussions on remix art and ownership rights, and provided ample inspiration for the student's upcoming collage painting project. I can't wait to see what they come up with!