A Ghost In My Suitcase

June 24, 2021
Claire Davenhall
Louise Taylor


School: Bob Hawke College

Year Group: 7

Teacher: Louise Taylor

Creative Practitioner: Claire Davenhall

Creative Practice: Visual Artist - Sculptor

Bob Hawke College is the first high-density public secondary school in Western Australia that recently opened in February 2020. Their College motto ‘Extraordinary Together’ is about students, staff and parents being the best version of themselves, within an inclusive learning environment.

Their teachers along with expert creative practitioners, aim to inspire and motivate students, encouraging them to take responsibility for themselves, for others and for the world around them. Their English Specialist Teacher Louise Taylor, was matched with Creative Practitioner Claire Davenhall, a visual artist specialising in sculpture. Together, their main curriculum focus has been on English Literature and Literacy with 30 students from Year 7.

They have worked closely with each other to develop crucial interpersonal communication skills with their students and introduced the Five Habits of Learning framework with a specific focus on collaboration and self-discipline. This compliments the English program that helps to develop core values of empathy, resilience, creativity and critical thinking, the skills they need for the future.

In term 4, we combined two support texts in the form of scripts taken from; A Ghost In My Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang, with the Shakespearean Play; A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

We introduced the new text through a poem and a paper crane challenge taken from the chapter of the book:

‘The Silver Bird’

Hey there, Mama Beautiful bird in the sky.
How is your heart today?
There’s a bridge that stretches to the Isle of Clouds and back.
One thousand white cranes heading north.
You and me on that bridge, almost home.
I’m a bird. I’m flying so high.
Maybe from up here I can see the Isle of Clouds.

Celeste LaClaire


The crane is a mythical creature and is
said to live for a thousand years.
Anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes
will be granted a wish by the gods, granted
happiness, a long life and eternal good luck.

You have been granted 3 wishes, write them on 3 pieces of square paper and carefully fold them into paper cranes, to create a collaborative bridge from Shanghai over to the Isle of Clouds.

It was a wonderful inclusive way to start the term, with every student contributing to an installation in the school gallery space. It also marked the first in a series of new innovative workshop style lessons into the English curriculum, where students systematically built a stage set of their oral presentations, using key thematic elements from the script; A Ghost In My Suitcase, while performing scenes from; A Midsummers Night Dream.

“Collaborative is when you start talking to people. You aren’t shy anymore. I’ve noticed some kids who keep to themselves are now talking to other people in the class.” - Student

The following week, we created Chinese lanterns using Sumi Painting, an ancient Chinese technique using a traditional brush and ink on paper, which places the Emphasis on the beauty of each individual stroke of the brush.

The students enjoyed the slow, quiet activity of sumi painting and felt the success of hanging their work up in the gallery. They showed a true collaborative spirit with increased self-discipline and showed great respect for each other’s work by sharing the product of their lessons with the rest of the Year 7 cohort.

“It is English, but we are doing English in a fun way.” - Student

“You get to work in groups and build up your problem-solving skills and do things differently.” - Student

In the weeks that followed, students re-created the Isle of Clouds, Shanghai City and linked the different locations with a rope bridge, all while practicing speaking Shakespearean.

“It is about making your own thing. It's about active learning and experience. I enjoy learning this way.” - Student

One of the beautiful moments was watching the scripts literally come alive through the use of their stage set; Shanghai became Athens and the Isle of Clouds became the woods, through the process of creation students started making links across both texts, which became deeply embedded in their learning experience.

“It has been amazing to witness creativity enhancing the learning environment, while this is a large group with strong personalities, harnessing the energy in a creative way has been the key to the success of this group.” - Claire Davenhall (Creative Practitioner)

The Gallery space has been utilised not only to display their stage set for their oral presentations, but also a play for reflective talks of their work. This has benefited the school by showcasing student work for open days, morning tours and compliments the schools motto of excellence together by bringing in expert creative practitioners to inspire and motivate students.

“It is so good, having Claire. I would never think of the things that she comes up with. I could never have taken it that far. Clare is amazing to work with. I learn from her. And then I take it into my other four classes. I really want this to be something that I can reuse.” - Louise Taylor (Specialist English Teacher)

Louise has shared her creative journey and what
she has learnt through creative schools on her
You can listen to her talk about innovating classrooms
on her website through conversations with educators.


“Thank you for teaching us with the best methods ever, having fun. Everyday I was excited about when we would have creative schools next.” - Student

“The teacher and creative have high expectations of what can be achieved in the available time.” - Mathilda Joubert (Creative Schools Evaluator)