Creative Practitioner: Miles Openshaw
Creative practice: Theatre and storytelling
School: Fremantle Primary School
Teacher: Anne Wittenoom
Year group: 6
Main Curriculum Focus
HASS - Civics & Citizenship - Australia’s system of government and citizenship
Who can be an Australian citizen? The formal rights and responsibilities, and shared values of Australian citizenship. (ACHHK114)
Listening and speaking interactions, oral presentations, purpose and audience and use of software.
Fremantle Primary School is an independent public school in the heart of the City of Fremantle, Western Australia. The school has a student population of about 290 and prides itself on its sense of community, offering a genuinely inclusive and nurturing learning environment with a rich and embedded values program.
Over the course of this term this Year 6 class have been exploring ideas around the meaning of citizenship, belonging, identity and democracy. Alongside creative practitioner Miles and Year 6 teacher Annie Wittenoom, the class have unpacked what it means to be a citizen of a nation, drawn up and voted on their own constitution, created their own passports and even took the Australian Citizenship practice test! During the term they filmed interviews with each other, staff and members of the school community about what makes a valued citizen and designed a selection of flags that reflect their feelings on nationhood.
In our warm-ups we played many games, scavenged and made art from found objects and students discovered more about each other in the process.
Citizen Fremantle has really put the kids in charge!
How did we make the curriculum come alive?
We have literally put the curriculum in the hands of the students this term. We have asked them to respond, create and reflect on a variety of questions using a range of creative approaches, visual, textual and technological, to find their own means of self-expression.
How did we make the Creative Habits of Mind come alive?
In our sessions we have focused on three of the 5 Habits of Learning - collaborative, persistent and imaginative. Our warm-up games and activities were designed to give students opportunities to experience these habits in shared, meaningful and reflective ways: from imaginative games of tag to the more complex shapes where teams have ten seconds to create shapes suggested by the leader without speaking. At the end of the term we devised a Nature Scavenger Hunt where pairs of students were given a list of items to collect from the school grounds and then create something out of them. The scavenger hunt was specifically designed to focus the students on using all of the 5 Habits of Learning.
How did we activate student voice and learner agency?
We activated learner agency and student voice in a number of ways during the term.
Challenge - we pressed the students to think deeply instead of superficially about the tasks and activities that were set for them and we asked questions that required them to use reasoning and exercise agency in coming up with answers.
Clarify - we wanted the students to develop language that reflected what they were experiencing in the activities they undertook in the sessions and develop ways to explain it in clear ways.
Clarity - we explored ways in which students were given shared responsibility to detect and respond to confusion in class. Groups would be required to figure out for themselves rather than expect the creative practitioner or teacher to do it for them.
WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?
Looking back and reflecting on what they were creating in the moment and finding ways to improve it - during the filming session’s teams were keen to learn how to achieve the best take and spent time reviewing what they had done, discussing ways of improving and reshooting.
Be more free and exploratory with ideas and creative tasks - it was interesting watching the students create an abstract piece of art with the items that they had collected during the scavenger hunt (the only instruction being that the piece had to represent one of the 5 Habits of Learning). It was wonderful to see the pupils explore the possibilities of imagination, design and creativity.
Pride in their work - observing the care, attention and pride that went into writing up the scripts for filming and noting that some of these scribes were not the usual ‘writing’ kids.
I have been enjoying the Creative Schools journey thus far, with the Year 6 students and creative practitioner, Miles.
Our term 2 focus was HASS. The students discussed and voted for their own constitution for the Independent State of Fremantle and also considered the necessary criteria to be an Australian citizen. It was terrific to see their enthusiasm towards the sessions. They actively took part in games, discussions, presentations and interviews.
I have been really pleased at the way the quieter students have enjoyed the dynamics of working in small groups, with peers. This contributed to their confidence to use greater volume and show another side of their personality. During a recent interview, I was able to show a parent a video of her usually quiet son, participating with confidence, during a peer interview. She was amazed and delighted.
The students’ interview videos provided valuable data for our term 2 reports.
Two of the students, who are easily distracted, produced wonderful interviews. They were totally focused and bounced ideas off one another. The boys were very proud of their work and excited to interview their Principal.
The activities have allowed me to observe and gain greater awareness of the student’s opinions and collaborative skills.
I have really enjoyed this term's work with this group of Year 6s. They are a lively and creative bunch of pupils with a lot to say (sometimes too much!) but always coming up with interesting ideas and ways of stretching themselves. I have been going through my own citizenship journey during this period too and it has been interesting and valuable sharing ideas around belonging and identity with this class. The session after my citizenship ceremony I brought in my certificate to show the class and it felt like a lovely way to complete this part of the project.
The Creative Practitioner asked the students which of the Habits of Learning they felt they had practiced the most in Term 2?
“Persistent because I don’t stop trying.”
“Inquisitive because I ask questions.”
“Creative - I enjoy drawing and using my imagination to make things.”
“Persistent because I always try my hardest.”
“Disciplined because I listen and I don’t do random procrastination things while working.”
“Collaborative because I include people in what I’m doing.”
“Creative because I like to turn random stuff into cool things.”
“Inquisitive because I like learning, am curious and like to explore new things and places.”
"They did interviews on citizenship. It has really opened things up for them. We also did the citizenship practice test, it has been really fun. They did so well." - Creative Practitioner
"We have created the Independent State of Fremantle in our class. They designed the city using angles. Now they are planning what they want in their community. It is working out really well. They are learning to work together beautifully. There has been a definite impact on the kids. I have seen some of my students’ whole behavior change. They are now collaborating. I am seeing the personality of really shy kids coming out. We went to Parliament House, and they were all so engaged. It made the learning more realistic for them, because they have experienced it in practical ways first." - Teacher