Week 12- 26th of November

This was our final week of Integrated Arts. I was a little sad, if I’m honest, for the module to be over as I really enjoyed it. One of the things I enjoyed most was that the module was so practical. Every week, we had a different workshop on different art area’s and I really liked experimenting and playing around with different materials and techniques. Drama was definitely my favourite area to study. I was a part of drama groups when I was younger so to be able to pick it back up and learn how to incorporate it into the classroom was really enjoyable for me. I also found the other areas (dance, visual arts and music) really fun and beneficial for my future practice. I feel that my confidence has grown in these other areas and they have helped to develop new skills.

As this was our final week of dance, it was performance time! We started off by rehearsing a few times so that everyone felt confident going into the recording. I felt quite nervous going into the performance, even after rehearsing lots and knowing that every one else was feeling the same way.Recording the performance is an easy way to self-evaluate and compare your progress from the beginning of the rehearsals to the end product. A point we spoke about to consider for future practice is that not all children need to be dancing to participate. Some pupils may not be able or want to dance. This could result in them feeling left out and sat on the side. A way of avoiding this is by giving everyone a job, like set designer or costumes. This way, they still feel included and it encourages team work.  After our performance, we watched it back and used “3 stars and a wish” to evaluate it. I thought that this was a really good concept to consider for my future practice because it allows children to also consider what they done well in as well as an area that they could develop in. My three stars and a wish were;

  1. I was really enthusiastic (had good energy)
  2. I was very focused on my groups part of the dance
  3. I was able to put forward ideas for our chore graphical devices
  4. My wish was that my timing could’ve been better at the end of the dance.

Our dance can be viewed here. https://vimeo.com/376244238

In our music input, we were learning to play the ukulele. We began by learning the basics of the ukulele and how to play it through the use of figure notes. We all got a shot to play the ukulele’s and I actually found it really fun. I had memories of playing guitar in school and I was hopeless at it. I couldn’t move my fingers quickly enough or get them in the right positions but I didn’t feel that pressure learning the ukulele. We played everything as a class and nobody was singled out. I also really liked that we used figure notes because it meant that I could focus on the finer positions rather then trying to work out what notes to play as well. Learning to play the ukulele seemed really difficult when the idea was presented to us but it was actually quite straight forward with the use of something like figure notes. This is definitely something to consider in my future practice because it can create a sense of achievement in the children as they’ve conquered something that seemed intimidating.

Week 11-19th of November

This weeks lecture looked at creative dance. We first looked at what creative dance is and Cone (2009) describes it as allowing the children to come up with their own dance routines. “One of the most powerful experiences dance educators can offer children is the opportunity to create a dance that reflects their ideas” (Cone, 2009). I thought this quote was really interesting because it explains that a major element of teaching dance is giving the children a chance to express themselves. This links with one of the CfE Experiences and Outcomes for dance which says “Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express my ideas, thoughts and feelings through creative work in dance” (Education Scotland). We also learned that creative dance has lots of benefits for the pupils, such as increased confidence and mental & physical wellbeing. It can also develop an ability to communicate and work in groups and can increase self confidence.  These skills and increased self confidence can be across other subjects and benefit other areas of life.  We then went on the discus what our role is, as teachers, when teaching creative dance.  This was an area that I found quite daunting because I don’t have a lot of experience in dance so I didn’t think that I would be able to teach it effectively. However, something we discussed was that the role of the teacher should include valuing the creative process and believing in the validity of children’s creativity and ideas. This means having an end goal for the children to work towards and for you to assess but also understanding that how the children get to the end product is just as important as the end product itself. It also includes creating a safe environment in the class for the children to feel comfortable to explore their ideas and then perform them.  We can also use stimulus to inspire the children and this could come from a variety of sources such as photos, videos, or watching a performance. We also discussed some resources that could be used in schools for creative dance and a major one was youtube, where you can watch a variety of videos featuring dance, such as tutorials or performances.  You could also games, like Just Dance, or other pupils who dance as a hobby as resources for dancing.

In our music input we were playing the glockenspiels again but instead of following notes or sheet music, we were improvising. As warmup, we played some simple tunes on the glockenspiels to remember what to do and then we moved on to the improvisation. We were only given 4 four notes to invent with but that was more than enough. We each took it in turn to improvise a couple of bars on the glockenspiels to a backing track of “hit the road jack”. The idea of inventing music in front of the rest of my peer group really scared me. Music has never really been a strong point of mine or an area that I felt confident in. This increased my nerves but in reality, there wasn’t much to it. Everyone had a go one after an other, no body was made to feel horrible about their contribution and we all congratulated each other. This was because we had made a safe environment in our room where everyone felt comfortable to express their ideas.

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In our dance input, we started by combining all our different group sections into one. big, whole class dance. We all worked together to come up with different poses for in-between the group sections. Everyone made different suggestions and all their opinions were valued and listened to, no one was made to feel stupid for having an idea. This is another example of the safe space that is needed for creative dance or for any type of creating. However, something that I noticed was that our dance lecturer done very little during our workshop. She helped with some of the technical things like timing and spacing but other than that, it was mostly just us students. This highlighted how little the teacher has to do in a creative dance lesson.

References

  • Cone, T.P. (2009) Following their lead: Supporting children’s ideas for creating dances. Journal of Dance Education, Vol 9(3), pp.81-89
  • Education Scotland (2017) Curriculum For Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available:https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf [Accessed: 20th of November  2019]

Week 10- 12th of November

This weeks lecture looked at creative partnerships within the arts. We learned that it can help to provide a higher quality of education for the pupils because its experts providing the children with their expert knowledge. We also looked at some examples of creative partnerships and one was the Creative Minds Learning Network. They hold whole day events where teachers have the opportunity to gain knowledge in the art areas. The events involve local artists and experts to talk to the teachers and help them to provide themselves and the pupils with a quality learning experience. The day is not only open to teachers but also lots of other people, including parents or other school staff. We looked at another successful example of a creative partnership which was the parkour project. This was started because the boys didn’t feel comfortable dancing so they brought in a parkour instructor to teach the children and help them to express themselves through movement. The project worked really well and it helped to improve more than just their physical movement. The project helped to raise attainment, attendance and confidence and also improved the pupils ability to follow instructions and be safe.

Our music input focussed on a concept called figure-notes. It’s a form of notation that allows everyone to play together using either traditional or non-conventional notation. It uses shapes and colours instead of notes and you just hit the key that matches the sheet. It’s really beneficial for autistic children because conventional notation can be difficult to understand (different length bars, etc). We all had a shot at using figure notes on the glockenspiels and got to play a couple of songs, jingle bells and Frère Jacques. Everyone picked it up really quickly and done really well. I’ve mentioned before that music was never my favourite subject but I actually had a really fun day and enjoyed myself because I didn’t feel stupid for not being able to read music.

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Our dance workshop started off with us performing our dance routines to the rest of the section. I was really nervous because my dancing skills aren’t great. However, after the performance, I felt more connected to my group because we all worked together and none of us really felt that confident about it. This is backed up by Ken Robinson who mentioned in a blog of his that there was “demonstrable improvement in students’ abilities to cooperate and collaborate” after they worked in groups for a dance project. A lot of work in schools now is group based so this is a really important point to consider for my future practice. We then came together as a section and started to create a whole class dance.  We used different stimulus’, pictures of different Scottish landmarks, to come up with a Scottish themed dance move.  each group came up with a different move and then we combined them all to create the beginning of our dance. Cone (2009) says that allowing the pupils to choreograph their own dances allows them to explore their own thoughts and feelings.

References

Cone, Theresa. (2009). Following Their Lead: Supporting Children’s Ideas for Creating Dances. Journal of Dance Education. Vol. 9, pp 81-89. Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233223027_Following_Their_Lead_Supporting_Children’s_Ideas_for_Creating_Dances [Accessed: 14th of `November 2019].

TED-ED (2018) Why Dance is Just as Important as Maths in School [Online] Available: https://blog.ed.ted.com/2018/04/02/why-dance-is-just-as-important-as-math-in-school/ [Accessed: 14th of November 2019].

Week 9- 5th of November

This week we had no lecture and instead had only two workshops. The first workshop was music and it was delivered by a group of primary school pupils who all played string instruments. We were seated like an orchestra and the children all sat between us. We done lots of different exercises that the children done in class to learn how to play the instruments and the pupils took on the role of teachers, showing us how to do them. It was a really fun workshop to be a part of  because it was so practical and when I was in school, I used to play the cello so it was a reminder how hard playing an instrument was! We also learned lots about the schools string project and how it works. Unfortunately, 97% of the school is on free meals so ordinarily, most of the families wouldn’t be able to afford the private tuition lessons which is why the project is such a great initiative. The children receive whole class lessons and don’t take the instruments home so although it may take longer to make progress, the children aren’t practicing mistakes at home and they actually get a chance to learn an instrument that they may never have normally had. I found this workshop really inspiring because the children all really loved playing their instruments and most of them wanted to continue playing them into high school.

Our second workshop was dance. This was our first week doing it so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I had done a little dance when i was younger but I was little apprehensive about doing it now. We started  with a dance version of Chinese whispers, to warm up, where a dance move was passed up to the top of the line and you had to see if it matched the bottom. We then done another exercise where we all danced in a line and every time the music changed, the person at the front came up with a new dance move. This was really fun and everyone really enjoyed it but this could be really difficult for children who don’t dance or who have little self confidence. You would have to know your class really well before doing something where they have to show off on their own. We also done an activity where when certain numbers were shouted, we had to get into groups of that number and form pre-arangeed shapes with our bodies. We focussed on a Scottish theme and used items like castles or the Loch Ness monster but it could be used for a variety of topics and subjects in class, for example maths. This could be really helpful for children with learning difficulties who might benefit from visual learning. Our main activity was, in groups, to come up with a move for each of the 10 basic moves of dance, which are jump, kick, roll, twist, turn, hop, gesture, reach, balance and slide. We then used these moves to create a dance routine. However, we ran out of time to show our routines so this become next weeks task.

 

Week 8-29th of October

This week our lecture looked at creativity. There was a quote from Csikszentmihalyi (1996) that I found really interesting that said “constant busyness is not a good prescription for creativity” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996, p.353). I really liked it because it shows that you need to allow time to be creative and that actually, boredom is okay. Being bored means that you have time to think and come up with something that you actually want to do which is really important for an arts lesson.  Another interesting point we discussed came from Ken Robinsons TED talk. His talk focuses on wether schools kill creativity and one of the things he said, “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything” (Ken Robinson, 2006), really stuck with me. It backed up a point made in our very first lecture that we need to develop an ambiguity for messiness. We also need to know how to learn from our mistakes and move on. Not only is this vital for creativity and arts lessons but also for our own mental health and wellbeing. We also looked at WALT (We Are Learning To) and WILF (What I’m Looking For) and how these don’t always apply to art lessons.  The lesson should be a problem that the children have to solve using art which is why don’t always know what we’re looking for in an art lesson.

Our visual arts workshop looked at critiquing art and being critical. Children can struggle to talk about their art learning, such as the different elements of art.  Art is always assumed to be a practical lesson but it should also be critical, This could be by looking at different pieces fo work and critically examining them. We then done this ourselves by using Taylors model of assessment to critique a work of art and create a video about it. I had done higher art at school so I had a little knowledge in this area with different terms, etc but I could understand if others struggled, especially children.  Theres also opportunities to link the critical lesson to a literacy lesson because one of the first level experiences and outcomes is “As I listen or watch, I am learning to make notes under given headings and use these to understand what I have listened to or watched and create new texts” (Education Scotland, 2017).

In our music workshop, we used the online resource called Charanga. The website had lots of different lesson ideas and resources that could be used by non-specialist music teachers. I think this would be really helpful in my future practice because I don’t personally feel that music is a strong point of mine and I wouldn’t feel 100% confident teaching it so this website would be a really big help.

References

  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996) Creativity – Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, New York: Harper Collins
  • https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity/up-next?language=en
  • Education Scotland (2017) Curriculum For Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available:https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf [Accessed: 31st of October 2019]

 

Week 7- 22nd of October

The lecture this week was really special because it was taken by a group of Norwegian students who were over visiting our university and they spoke to us about their county and their university. It was really interesting to listen to because I didn’t have a lot of previous knowledge on the country, like how they speak two different depending on which part of the country you live in. They also told us lots about their degree and I was surprised to hear how different it is to ours, such as their course is a Masters degree and in their 3rd year placement, they partake in a school take over where the staff leave and the school is ran by the student teachers.

Our visual arts inputs looked at creating art outdoors, for example, sculptures. To begin, we looked at some well known outdoor artists and one that I really liked in particular was Andy Goldsworthy. I really liked the way he uses a variety of outdoor materials. We also learned that outdoor learning is big thing in Norway so they spoke about how they try to incorporate outdoor learning into everything(literacy, maths, etc). Our task this week was to create a piece using the materials outside without harming the environment. Our group decided to take inspiration from our guests and created a copy of the Norwegian flag using a leaf, some twigs and red berries. I found the outdoor learning really interesting and captivating. However, you would have to carefully plan out your lesson. It could be very distracting for some pupils because theres lots of different noises, environments, sights, etc.

Our music input this week looked at using apps and online resources to create music. We focused on the app GarageBand and used it to create an autumnal piece. The app had a wide variety of instruments available and the app was actually really straight forward to use. It was a really engaging input because we were all allowed to use our own creativity and explore and investigate different sounds and how they all worked together. This links really well with the Scottish Governments Experiences and Outcomes for First level which says “I can use my voice, musical instruments and music technology to discover and enjoy playing with sound, rhythm, pitch and dynamics”. One important thing to consider before trying something like this with a class would be to use headphones as it can be very distracting with everyone playing over each other and it could be hard to control.

The link that I found between the two sessions would be creating art using unconventional materials.

References

Education Scotland (2017) Curriculum For Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available:https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf [Accessed: 23rd of October 2019]

Week 6- 15th of October

This week, in our visual art input, we looked at the technique of printing. We briefly spoke about the history of printing and how it made books more accessible to everyone because previously, the only widely available book was the bible. We then looked at an artist called Bob and Roberta Smith who used printing to create powerful pieces about art and art education. This helped, for me, to highlight a link between visual arts and literacy. It showed that you can use literacy to create statements and then use different art techniques to create an eye-catching poster, card, display, etc. We then had a go at creating our own printed pieces, which was really fun. We firstly had to create a statement about an area that we feel very passionate about. I personally choose the topic of mental health and used the statement ‘ Love Yourself No Matter What’ We then had to draw it out and trace it onto polystyrene tiles. We then painted the tiles using brightly coloured paints and hoped that our print would work. Unfortunately, my print was unsuccessful but that’s okay in art. If something doesn’t work out the way you planned, you can try again maybe with different materials or using a different technique. You might not get the result you wanted but it might still be okay.

Our music input looked at rhythm and patterns this week. We began by talking about musical notation and what a variety of different notes stand for. However, we also talked about how it is okay if you don’t use conventional notations and instead use shapes, colours or figures. We used shapes to begin with and I found this easier and a lot more straight forward then trying to understand the music notes right from the start. We also learned about the difference between pulse and rhythm. Whilst a pulse is regular, like a heartbeat, a rhythm can be a mixture of long and short beats. Once we had went over the basics, we got a chance to have a go at playing some music. We all got a set of either drumsticks or beaters and we were to play along with the music on the screen. I found this really fun and thought that this was really engaging way to learn music. Music was never a subject that I enjoyed or thought that I was particularly good at but I actually really enjoyed this input and didn’t feel stressed out or anxious like I normally did during music lessons in school.

Week 5- 8th of October

Our lecture this week introduced us to the subject of music and that music can have quite the impact in the primary class.  We looked at lots of academic studies that showed that music can actually help with other subjects, such as maths or English.  We  also learned that music can help with social skills because it’s not a solitary subject, for example, orchestras. The orchestra is made up of lots of smaller groups of instruments and they need to work together, within their section and within the whole orchestra. This was something I had never thought about. When I was in primary school, I used to play the cello but I never really saw music as a strong subject of mine. I viewed it in a similar way to art and that it was a subject that you were either good or bad at, it wasn’t something that you could improve on.

In our music workshop, we looked at how moods and how music can affect and create our moods. We listened to some different pieces of music and then had to write about how it made us feel. There was such a wide variety of answers given, even within my small peer group, which highlighted the fact that music can make everyone feel something different because of things like your background, life experiences, etc. We also discussed how even if you don’t personally feel confident teaching music, you can’t deny your pupils the opportunity. You may not feel confident teaching maths or English but you still need to teach it so why should you treat music like an option. Music can also be used to inspire creativity within the classroom. We done this by listening to a piece of music and taking notes of what we think might be happening during the music. We then had to come up with a story as a group and draw out a story board illustrating it. We then all presented our stories to the rest of the class and noticed that although there were some differences, such as characters or settings, everyones stories followed a similar storyline. It started off with a happy beginning but then because elements of the music, such as the tempo, volume and pitch, changed and sounded more aggressive, everyones story experienced a dangerous twist.

This week was our turn to do our drama micro-teaching exercise. We decided to focus ours on the book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. We started our lesson my reading part of the book to the class and then doing a whole class warm up of acting out walking through the different environments mentioned in the book. We then read the rest the book up until they find the bear in the cave and used the conventions freeze frame and thought tunnel. In the freeze frame, the groups had to show their reaction to seeing the bear for the fist time and in the thought tunnels, everyone had to say a word that they felt described the bear. We then finally finished the story and this was when we done our final convention which was teacher in role. Once I put on my jacket, I took on the role of the bear and the rest of the class asked me questions, including why I chased the family and how I was feeling. From asking the questions, the class worked out that the bear was actually just lonely and only chased the family because he wanted some company.  We then finished the lesson by saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because we all thought the bear was scary but in reality, it was misunderstood.

I really enjoyed doing my micro-teaching because it was my first real experience teaching and personally, I thought that it went really well. Drama is something I’ve really enjoyed doing both in and out of uni so for that to be one of the first subjects that I teach was a very important personal moment for me. It also made me really look forward to going out on placement and further teaching and exploring different subjects.

Week 4- 1st of October

This weeks Visual Arts input opened with looking at “adult” colouring sheets. We discussed how the colouring sheets provide you with a problem that you have to solve and that every art lesson should work like this, children should be solving a problem using their own creativity and imagination. I thought that this was a really useful to remember for future practice because it shows that art lessons should still be making children think critically like they would in literacy or maths lessons.  We then moved on to look back at our Scottish Highland paintings from last week. We were going to spend some time reworking our paintings using chalks and coloured pencils. By using dry materials on top of the paint meant we could enhance the image and add definition that couldn’t be done by wet paint. We then combined text and image together by writing over the painting with either memories or feelings that we had about the highlands. I’ve never visited the Highlands so I didn’t have any personal experiences to draw upon so I used a poem about the highlands instead. The poem was very descriptive and had a lot of feelings and emotions so I thought that it would be very fitting for the exercise. We also were not allowed to write in a straight line, we were to follow the curves of the painting and be creative with our words. I found this input very interesting as it showed direct links between art and literacy and how it can so easily be implemented into the classroom. This could also be used for a creative writing exercise as a stimulus to start a story or as a way to illustrate a story already written.

Our drama input was a micro teaching session. This was where small groups thought the whole class different drama conventions and focussed it around a theme. In particular, I really liked the group that centred their session around a storybook because they managed to create strong links between the story and the drama conventions. An example of this was where they used the main character of the story as the role for ‘Teacher in role’. Our micro teaching isn’t until the next week so we were only watching and participating this time. Teaching drama is something I’m really looking forward to as drama has been a passion of mine for years so to be combining it with teaching will be a quality personal learning experience. Also, this will be one of my times being the teacher and leading the class. I’ve had experience working with children one-to-one but never taking a full class for a lesson. However, I don’t feel nervous or anxious about it because it’s only in front of our peers which makes it a more relaxed experience. It also means that you can enjoy yourself more because it’s more on the informal side.

Week 3- 24th of September

This week, our first lecture looked at ‘Room 13’. ‘Room 13’ originally stared as a spare room in a classroom in Fort William but was transformed into a social enterprise that was completely run by the kids in the school. The children used the room as an art studio where they created a variety of pieces using a range of materials. It was ran at such a professional standard that the children even hired an ‘Artist in Residence’ who wasn’t there as a teacher figure to control what they done but they were in the studio as an equal to the children and provided guidance with area’s like technique (Gibb.C, 2012). I found this really inspiring for my future practice as it demonstrated that when teaching art, you should not template children. Not every pupil should be forced to create the same piece as their peers because its denying creativity and the opportunity of personalised learning.

In our Drama workshop, we looked at our final four concepts which where Mime, Monologue, Voices in Head and Slow motion. Drama has been a passion of mine for many years and something I’ve really enjoyed so for us to be coming to the end of our drama inputs, I felt quite sad. This week, our task was to create scenes involving the inputs but we were to take inspiration form some difficult and controversial topics, such as WW2, The Grenfell Disaster or The ‘Me Too’ movement. I thought that the Monologue and Voices in Head were really good concepts to use because it allows children to explore thoughts and feelings in depth and helps to create a better understanding of the topic they’re looking at. However, one problem my group encountered was that we struggled to come up with idea’s for scenes because some of the topics were such sensitive subjects. This highlighted that although some aspects of these controversial topics should be taught in the classroom, not everything would be appropriate and that you should have in-depth knowledge of these sensitive topics so you feel confident to explain to the children the topic in a way that makes sense to them.

Our Visual Arts input started with us creating our own paintbrushes.  We had a variety of materials to choose from, such as twigs, rope, fluff, etc.This was show our individualism as some people created very practical, realistic paintbrushes whist others created more extravagant looking ones. We were then to use the paintbrushes to create a painting of the Scottish Highlands but we weren’t shown the scene we were to paint, it was described to us. This was to make sure that we all made our own original interpretations and didn’t just recreate the picture in front of us. Also, the only paint colours available to us were primary colours, which were blue, red and yellow and this was to encourage us to mix the colours and experiment and see what different colours and shades we could make. I’ve never really had a major interest in art as I’ve always believed through out school that I wasn’t any good at it but I really enjoyed this input. I enjoyed the freedom and creativity and not having to compare my work to other peoples to see who’s was better. I also found a link back to the beginning of the module where we were told to develop a tolerance for ambiguity and messiness and this was demonstrated really well in this particular input.

References

Gibb,C. (2012) Room13: The Movement and International Network. The International Journal of Art & Design Education. Vol.31(3), p.237-244