Creatives Practitioner: Melanie Maclou
Creative Practice: Visual Artist, Sculptor
Teacher: David Conlon
Year Group: 4
Main Curriculum Focus: MATHS
Cross-curricular Links – Science
Many Science inquiry skills were used in our activities. Students were introduced to the concept of a hypothesis to develop their inquisitive habit of learning. For example, we made catapults and shot lollies from them. Initially students wrote down which lollies they thought would travel furthest then we did the experiment, recording distances for mathematical comparison.
WHAT WE DID
This term we chose to focus on Maths. Our objective was to explore mathematical concepts in a hands-on, creative way with an aim to engage students and spark curiosity about confidently measuring the world around them. Our units of measurement included telling the time (both analogue and digital), measuring distances and dimensions, temperature, weight, capacity, probability, and fractions.
We measured as many things in our world as possible, which included a trip to the wetland area of the school where we engaged in a scavenger hunt of measuring objects of differing sizes and shapes.
We also focussed on food. We made pizza and divided them into fractions, we emptied lolly bags and counted and collated the colours, and we measured the distances lollies travelled when being shot through a catapults. We created different tables to reflect our findings.
How did we make the curriculum come alive?
Maths is a subject that generally has definitive answers, the scope for creative learning thereby took place with creative context. David would do the explicit teaching of Maths content prior to our sessions, then our creative sessions would bring the content alive with lollies, pizza, outdoor activities, making catapults and playing lots of games.
We enjoyed a wonderful session at the wetland using worksheets to explore and measure the environment and the many things found there. The students worked in groups, using lots of different measuring instruments such as measuring spoons, cups, tape, rulers, scales etc.
Our pizza making session was a hit because students were able to eat their fractions. We also played lots of games based on chance and probability. We made the curriculum come alive with practical learning and through real-life application.
How did we make the Creative Habits of Learning come alive?
Remida gifted us with a tall, blank, cardboard clock tower. The students wrote their reflections on coloured paper, representing which of the 5 Habits of Learning they had focused on for each session. We then decorated the clock tower, making it come alive with our coloured reflections.
All our sessions this term had a high focus on group work and games which provided an opportunity for the class as a whole to display excellent collaborative skills. Students showed initiative in assisting and supporting one another in understanding concepts and working out answers.
Tackling maths activities also required students to be inquisitive, persistent and disciplined.
How did we activate student voice and learner agency?
This term we created many opportunities for student to collaborate and they stepped up to the challenge. We were pleasantly surprised at how students showed initiative and happily assisted others who required help or clarification.
WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?
Students began to develop a vested interest in their own learning. In the sessions prior to our Creative Schools lessons, students continually asked if what we were learning was a build up for what they were doing in their sessions with Melanie. They wanted to ensure they were as prepared as possible to engage.
Creative Schools sessions focused primarily on utilising concrete materials, enabling students, to a greater extent, to be able to apply abstract concepts to the real world and consequently were more able to take what they were doing in class home, to share with their family, where before they did not do so as much.
“I like that we are learning new stuff and that we get to create things. I usually just do creative stuff at home. I re-made the catapult that Melanie showed us how to make at home. I wanted to make it to show my mum and dad and even my aunty and uncle how to make one.” - Student
I’m noticing the kids are actively engaged and switched on during Creative Schools. This term we focussed on Maths for our Creative Schools project. I’m doing the explicit teaching and pre-teaching content beforehand and then adding to it in the Creative Schools session. I feel Creative Schools works better in areas like history, science, geography. We found it difficult to integrate maths because you need to explicitly teach some maths content to get the deep authentic learning. In saying that the real-world application with our cooking sessions and measurement activities in the wetlands using mathematics concepts worked well.
Maths is not one of my strong points, so I took up the challenge and was motivated to make our creative sessions both fun and practical for the students. During our Creative Schools program this term, I discovered that I enjoyed planning, creating and facilitating maths sessions, especially because they were somewhat unconventional. The Creative Schools program has provided me with the opportunity to take a subject matter that I am not overly confident in and transform it into something that sparks curiosity and fun. It has given me the confidence to tackle any tricky subject matter. It also proved that students can be engaged in any content provided it is presented in the right context.
“A partnership with a teacher and a creative practitioner was good because he has a solid structure as a base and I could put a creative spin on it. It’s a great opportunity to for students to have sessions developed with both a teacher and a creative practitioner. Students receive two different perspectives. We were able to bounce ideas off each other for the best interest of the students. It gives students a holistic and creative outcome to learning. It also caters to the different learning styles in the classroom. David is structured and methodical and I’m more about coming at things from different angles to make sure everyone has a chance to understand. Creative Schools sparks a curiosity in learning.” - Creative Practitioner
“Mr Conlon has started to change things and be more creative. He’s being much more imaginative. He’s been more persistent with people. He’s made lots of fun things. He’s taking inspiration from lots of little things.” - Student
“It’s exciting. Everyone gets excited when Melanie is coming. We know it will be a unique and creative time. It helps me understand my maths, but at the same time we are also being creative and expressing how we feel about it. I don’t usually think of maths as creative. Being creative gets you a better job, it helps you to think big and bold. It helps me think that I’m good at this. If you aren’t too good at something you have to just keep practising and believe in yourself.” - Student
“Creative schools is creative because a boring subject like chance in Maths we have turned it into games which are fun.” - Student
"Creativity is.... expressing yourself and being who you are. Using what is around you in a bold and bright way." - Student