Sustainability and the Future

June 24, 2021
By
Claire Davenhall
Louise Taylor

SUSTAINABILITY AND THE FUTURE

Case Study: Term 3 

School: Bob Hawke College

Teacher: Louise Taylor

Year Group:

Creative Practitioner: Claire Davenhall

Creative Practice: Visual Arts, Sculpture

Main Curriculum Focus: English Language - Visual language and English literature, focusing on language devices, personal responses to literacy, handwriting, listening and speaking interactions. 

Cross-curricular Links: Science, HASS, Geography, and Health and Physical Education

“It's about making connections and relating our work. Things are linking together, everything has been linked together.” - Student

Science Sustainability, science as a human endeavour. The nature and development
of Science - Scientific knowledge has changed peoples’ understanding of the world and is refined as new evidence becomes available. Science knowledge can develop through collaboration across the disciplines of science and the contributions of people from a range of cultures. Use and influences of science - Solutions to contemporary issues that are found using science and technology, may impact on other areas of society and may involve ethical considerations. People use science understanding and skills in their occupations and these have influenced the development of practices in areas of human activity.

Humanities and Social Sciences Questioning & research - Identifying current understandings to consider possible gaps and/or misconceptions, new knowledge needed and challenges to personal perspectives.

Geography – Water in the world, place and livability - The factors that influence the decisions people make about where to live and their perceptions of the livability of places. The influence of accessibility to services and facilities on the livability of places.

Health and Physical Education – Learning through movement - Using communication skills that support and enhance cohesion, such as body language and listening skills. Ethical behaviour and fair play when participating in physical activities.  

“I am definitely less engaged in my other subjects. I would love it if all subjects were like this. It is a new fun way of learning. It's more creative. It makes a boring activity that we have to learn, fun. It makes you want to learn it. It makes you want to learn it more.” - Student

CONTEXT

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 that they can be, within an inclusive learning environment.

Their teachers along with expert 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 building visual language techniques with student’s speaking and listening interactions.

They have worked closely with each other to develop crucial interpersonal communication skills with their students and introduced the Five Creative Habits of Learning framework, with a special 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.

“You could see the children are thinking about what creativity looks like.” - John Burke (Principal)

WHAT WE DID

In the Year 7 English class, students read a comparative text ‘City of Ember’ and watched the 2040 documentary film. Both the book and documentary formed the basis for developing discussion, listening and speaking skills around what the future might look like in 20 years’ time. The focus was on developing creativity and critical thinking skills around the topic of changes they would expect to observe and exploring the future of work and what jobs will exist. With links to the curriculum in HASS, Science, English and the cross curriculum priorities of sustainability, students were encouraged to think about the world around them and consider what is needed in order to make a positive impact.  

“I'm understanding much more, what the visual techniques are that are represented, what filmmakers use to get their ideas across.” - Student

Using visual language techniques from both the text and film documentary, they wrote an essay; ‘How does the Film 2040 use visual language techniques to encourage viewers to change their behaviour?’ And created handwritten storyboards based on; ‘What does a sustainable suburb of the future look like?’

Storyboards Displayed in the School Library

We made the curriculum come alive by reenacting scenes from the book, they could see, hear and feel what it be like to live in a world with diminishing resources. We asked the students to look into the future and carve out a better, more sustainable life and how they might use the Five Creative Habits of Mind to get there.

“Learning is better with Creative Schools. We do different thinking, every time and it helps me remember things better. We are learning in a different way. That is good. We are actually learning more. We are learning about visual perspectives. We are learning how sound can evoke emotional language. It is very fun.” - Student

As a practicing artist, Claire could bring in real examples of what professional storyboards look and feel like, and the students had the opportunity to work alongside the practitioner. They displayed their work alongside industry professionals, for example the work of Cuban Photographer Brayan Collazo, who captured the Swan River brickworks at Ascot in Perth. This formed the inspiration and talking point for their collaborative City of Ember storyboards, where the work simply glowed off the page! By empowering the students with these creative skills they were able to produce their own independent storyboards for a future sustainable suburb of their own design.

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

We made the creative habits of learning come alive by introducing the Five Habits with an interactive treasure hunt and students had to read clues hidden inside a 200 year old box. “In this place, you will find a fleet of empty vessels. Each one is unique and one of a kind, designed to expand your inquisitive mind. Look in a place where you learn to grow, between the books, let your imagination flow. Be persistent to find them all, stick together you’ll have a ball. It’s time to collaborate and set a disciplined pace. You need to be back in 10 minutes, so don’t be late.”

“Everyone is engaged; everyone is doing the work. In other lessons where we don't do Creative Schools I feel like people are less engaged. Creative Schools makes learning much more fun for us.” - Student

Each week, they used both the 200 year old box and the empty vessels found in the treasure hunt to store their hand written reflective creative journeys in, which they wrote on a shipping tag and tied to their vessel. This made the learning visible and each week they could observe their creative journey and watch it grow, which formed the basis to keeping the Creative Habits of Mind alive in the classroom. 

“Creative Schools lessons are more creative and you use your brain in a different way. In a more creative way.” - Student

Students were encouraged to join in-group discussions and ask questions pertaining to their Creative Habits of Learning. They had the opportunity of practicing new skills and techniques in order to improve their work by reflecting critically at various points along the way. They openly shared their visual storyboards, by putting up a display in the library and used visual language to describe the works using their listening and speaking skills. 

The group has developed good collaborative skills within smaller groups and these will be consolidated again next term, when they combine the support text; A Ghost In My Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang with the Shakespearean play; A Midsummer Night’s 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 

WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?

The impact on the students' level of academic performance in both essay writing and the visual language storyboards was above the expected level and exceeded the other Year 7 groups. The creative school sessions improved  the level of student involvement and participation, with all students participating in all the sessions, it was an inclusive model of learning that has become sustainable to the school.

“We did an activity on making paper and applied it to essay writing to make the essays look more engaging. It's amazing. They now understand essay writing better and they can clearly articulate it.” - Teacher

“We are getting to do this ourselves, which is why we are enjoying it because we don't just sit passively and receive the learning. We are doing the learning, making the learning.” - Student

The teacher had the opportunity to learn new skills that she could apply to her teaching with the rest of the 270 Year 7 students. The creative workshops sessions have been filmed and disseminated to the rest of the year cohort, who all enjoy the mix of blended learning opportunities.

“It is so good, having Clare. 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.” - Teacher

“Seeing the change of teachers’ thinking has been really interesting for me.” - John Burke (Principal)

For the creative practitioner, it has been amazing to witness creativity enhancing the learning environment. Whilst 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. Both the Library and the Gallery space have been utilised to display their visual storyboards and a place for gallery walks and 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.

“We are looking at how to spread it to other classes. They do enjoy it; they all enjoy it.” - Cherie Mcelhinney (Creative Schools Coordinator)