Pets and Space

June 24, 2021
By
Felicity Groom
Lynette Chua

PETS AND SPACE 

Case Study: Term 3

School: Boyare Primary School

Teacher: Lynette Chua

Year Group: 4/5

Creative Practitioner: Felicity Groom

Creative Practice: Music and Visual Art

Main Curriculum Focus: Space and our solar system.

Cross-curricular Links: Earth and Space Sciences, Arts and Maths.

Earth and Space Sciences
The Earth is part of a system of planets orbiting around a star (the sun) (ACSSU078).

Arts
Use of techniques, art processes and exploration of art forms such as monoprinting, sculpture or ceramics (ACAVAM111).
Presentation of a message to an audience and reflection of the visual art elements and materials used in artwork (ACAVAM112).
Presentation and display of artwork with consideration of visual appeal/aesthetics (ACAVAM112).

Maths
Compare objects using familiar metric units of area and volume (ACMMG290).
Connect three-dimensional objects with their nets and other two-dimensional representations (ACMMG111).
Compare objects using familiar metric units of area and volume (ACMMG290). 

CONTEXT

This is a public school with many students using English as their second language and each student has their own specific needs, which must be taken into consideration. Having just come out of COVID-19 lockdown, there were some anxiety issues that teacher Lynette wanted to address in the Creative Schools project, along with issues of school attendance. The objective was to keep students engaged and feeling comfortable about coming to school, so developing a rich program of activities was key.

WHAT WE DID 

Our focus of inquiry was driven by our first Creative Schools session where we discussed what COVID lockdown had been like for the students. We discussed what they had enjoyed about being home and what they hadn’t enjoyed. We were hoping to explore the students' experience of their home life and bring some of that world into the classroom.

These discussions revealed that some of the students had liked spending more time with their pets at home and, while we couldn’t have real pets in the classroom, we could incorporate it into our project. We recognised that these students were a bit old to play with teddies, but they were still young enough to create an attachment to a ‘class pet.’ So, this formed the start of our project, to make pets and enjoy the process of bringing those pets to life.

“Creative Schools is amazing because you get to create stuff. We made pets and did sewing. It's fun stuff you can do at home and at school.” - Student


Students were put into groups and they set about designing and making their very own class pet. We ended up with six pets that were made with students working collaboratively. The curriculum focus was space and our solar system, so the idea of pets was incorporated into the curriculum focus. We developed not only the physical characteristics of the pets, but also their personality and then created a storyline around our classroom pets. Their mission … to go on a space mission! This made the topic of space more meaningful and brought the intangible and far away concept of other planets into a more accessible concept.

“You learn how to be creative and build up your dreams if you want something to happen you work as a team.” - Student


Students took time to make pets and give them names and define their personalities. Then they added further details specific to what the pet might need to survive on a space mission. The process of crafting and improving the design was carefully considered and well executed. We then explained that the pets were off on their missions to outer space.

The next stage of the project was to understand elements of the solar system. Students had the opportunity to explore their own area of inquiry, and they chose their planet to research. After doing this, they made a paper mache planet in groups of 2 to 3. Students painted these planets with careful observation of the details of colours involved in each surface and we managed to complete the whole solar system.

“It’s collaborative. You work together. It’s imaginative you have to imagine what things would look like in the future. You have to be inquisitive and ask good questions and think of answers.” - Student

Each stage required collaboration through team work and dialogue, discipline and persistence. Students needed these skills in making the pets and the planets as some had never sewn or made sculptures out of paper mache before. Their heightened inquiry and engagement was made evident in the conversations that we had at the beginning and end of the lesson, about space and space exploration.


HOW WE ACTIVATED STUDENT VOICE AND LEARNER AGENCY

Student voice was developed through opportunities for students to have discussions as a class. The discussions became much bigger than the initial seed of the conversation, which indicated a great curiosity for the subject and a willingness from the students to know more.

WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?

Student Impact

The students really enjoyed the activities, as the projects centred around a hands on approach. They were largely making and creating and we had a great level of engagement during these workshops.

“Creative Schools is amazing. We can be creative and be ourselves. We get to work with others. We can be inquisitive, collaborative and persistent.” - Student

“In Creative Schools you are imaginative. If you want to do something you can imagine it. It’s collaborative because you are working as a team. Teamwork makes a dream come true. Because if you want to do something a friend can help you. Like if you want to build a rocket ship a friend can help you do it.” - Student 

“In normal school you do writing on worksheets in Creative Schools you make things and you get to use paint. In normal lessons you don’t write reflections. But in Creative Schools we reflect about the lesson.” - Student 

“In Creative Schools you don’t have to learn about one thing, when you learn something it doesn’t have to be one way, there are lots of ways to learn.” - Student


Teacher Impact

Being involved with the Creative Schools program has helped to promote a more collaborative learning environment within the classroom. Students have adopted a positive approach to their learning. Often students will bounce ideas off one another during times of difficulty when faced with a challenge. At the beginning of Creative Schools, students were very reserved in asking questions. As the program progressed throughout the term, the students became a lot more inquisitive and were more willing to share questions and answers during our whole class discussions.  


“Our teacher is happier. Maybe because we learn more things about being imaginative and collaborative. She’s smiling more. It’s super fun.” - Student


Creative Practitioner Impact 

This is the Creatives third year in the Creative Schools program. It has been the most enjoyable Creative Schools experience to date. Partly this has to do with developing greater skills and experience in how to deliver the program. It has also been a very successful collaboration with the teacher who has an openness and flexibility around the delivery of the project. We have managed to slow the process down and enjoy the journey and haven’t had the pressure to pack too many things into the project from week to week. It became evident that this slower approach to learning has allowed the students to experience the richness of processes and gain a deeper level of engagement and understanding.


“Felicity makes us laugh. She is super nice. She teaches us to work together and says we should be kind to each other. She tells us if you work together you can make dreams come true.” - Student 


“Felicity is interesting. She has a lot of talents in her. She feels creative to work with.” - Student 


Principal Impact

“Our teachers loved Creative Schools last year, so we definitely wanted to the do the program again this year. Both teachers this year love working with their artists. These teachers are influencers and will be able to spread what they are learning to other teachers.” - Glenn Murray (Principal)


School Impact 

Boyare has a large percentage of students with English as a second language. This is the second year of Boyare participating in Creative Schools. A number of students have had first-hand experience in this program. Teachers have had multiple discussions in the staff room about the positive impact this program has had on their students. 


Parent Impact

During Term 3 Open Night at Boyare, parents were invited into the classroom to view their child’s work. Their Creative Schools project was on display and parents wanted to know more about the Creative Schools program and what students were learning over the term.