Identity, creativity, commitment, oh my!
Studio 4 are currently working on their How We Express Ourselves (HWEO) unit, combined with our year long Who We Are (WWA) unit.
Due to holidays, camp, and a number of other things, this unit is lasting from January until March. I cannot wait that long to write a blog post about this process so along the way I will be writing about each phase of what we do. It was a bit of a complicated process to plan out, but even from the beginning it felt right!
Week 1 - Tuning In - Identity Workshops
We felt that the students needed a bit of an understanding of their identity before starting (their why?) to get creative with it. We did this by first looking at the HWEO descriptor from the PYP.
"An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs, and values' the ways in which we reflect on, extend, and enjoy our creativity' our appreciation of the aesthetic."
As you can see, it also links well with WWA, which happens to be our year long unit.
We took that descriptor and created 6 workshops to help students tune in to the pieces of their own identities. Here is a gallery of work that came from each of those workshops (Ideas, Feelings, Nature, Culture, Beliefs, and Values).
Each morning, students signed up for a new workshop they had not attended yet. By the end of 6 days they had worked through each of the pieces in their HWEO journal with a variety of different students in each of their workshops.
Week 2/3 - Finding Out and Sorting out - Creativity Workshops
January 17 - 24th
This was an amazing time in the studio. Teachers loved it and so did the students. It felt so incredibly RIGHT. Our timetable for the week was nothing short of amazing. I am truly jealous of the education these students are being exposed to.
I'll admit it. I was weary when I looked at my first list of students. We all know the ones who are not well known for listening particularly well or possibly taking instructions well either.
However, the "why" of all of this shone through and proved my weariness completely wrong. The beauty of this method is that these students wanted to be there. They had ownership over that decision. They were excited. They wanted to learn. They listened to my every word, even when I had to cut them off because movie making is an incredibly long process. They reflected with purpose and attention about how they could use movie making to show their identity later in the unit when they have more time.
Not only were they feeling good about their choices, but so was I. I was teaching something I was passionate about, that I have loved doing since middle school. They loved hearing that I won awards in high school at student film festivals. They soaked in my tips and experience. I showed them how to improve their shots and after repositioning one videographer to capture something from a better angle, he even exclaimed, "wow, you really ARE an expert at this!" It was so much fun to get out of the studio and spend time with students, exposing them to one of my passions and seeing their interests flicker and spark.
I cannot speak for the other Studio 4 Teachers, but this is what has been my experience. Here is a gallery of some of the other photos and work students accomplished in these amazing Creativity Workshops.
Week 4/5/6/7 - Going Further - Commitment Groups
January 28 - March 8
Students committed to one area for at least a week. In reality this turned into a two week commitment, I believe for all students.
The plan was to have the following groups as a week long choice to commit to. However, we noticed that some areas have more interest than others. We listened to student voice and choice during this time, meaning some of these groups were combined.
I led the Digital Creation 1 group. The following slides assisted students students to build their purpose/why, to do lists, planning/scheduling, reflections, progress, and final pivot/persevere.
Come back to see how this goes!
Week 8 - Making Conclusions - Preparation for Mini-X
This week was an interesting one. We collapsed our timetable with most of our specialists. This means that they did not have to go to music or art class, but the teachers were available for ANY of the Studio 4 students to go to them and discuss their work, goals, and next steps to be ready for the exhibition.
This is what that timetable looked like
With so many open times, students needed constant reminders of who was available at what times for them to check in with. A must for every day was to check in with at least ONE advisor, any time throughout the day.
Near the end of the week it felt like a bit much. I am weary that this was a bit of a "trial" of a collapsed timetable, because it was for a different purpose than what I envision as a fantastic opportunity for the future. For the future I see a collapsed time table to be extremely useful for students. Just not in this way (meeting with teachers to finish things up, as opposed to learning new things). For the future I see specialist teachers offering multiple different workshops throughout the week and all students choose which of those art or music classes they want to attend. Something to still have discussions about.
Week 9 - Taking Action - Mini-X
What a night!
Students practiced throughout the day and other classes and year groups came up to have a look. We got loads of fantastic feedback and the students took that afternoon SO seriously after realizing what they needed to change or add to their own display/presentation to be ready for the evening.
There was a great buzz in the evening and students were confident presenters of their identity and creativity.
For some reason Weebly is not allowing me to add other photos at the moment, so here is one for now, showcasing the live performances (including a rap about studio 4 teachers!)
Former PYP Coordinator and Head of Computing Curriculum, Apple Distinguished Educator 2019, Google Educator L2, Microsoft Innovative Educator, Book Creator and Seesaw Ambassador. Passionate Canadian PYP Teacher in Vietnam