This past school year, with so many different inquiries going on at the same time, one of our biggest challenges was finding time for all of the students to share their learning.
The solution was simple; we decided to hold a festival. We called the festival…
“The Arts of March”
We wanted to combine Visual and Performing Arts and so I had the pleasure of organizing the event with our amazing PYP VA teacher Angie @4ngie4Andreas
She has been such an inspiration to work with during the past year, and we continue to merge the Arts in the PYP this school year (related blog post coming soon!).
We set the following three goals:
#1 Provide a safe, fun, and supportive atmosphere for students to share experiences in The Arts.
#2 Promote student agency and the learner profile attribute of Risk-taking, and skills related to Self-management and Communication.
#3 Build relationships and celebrate Who we are as a community.
We asked the students what kind of things they would want to share.
Students signed up initially on a Google Form and chose what they wanted to share, from the list that we had all brainstormed. From the results, we figured out what we would need in terms of stages, equipment, etc.
HERE is a copy of the initial sign-up Google Form. Feel free to make a copy of it 🙂
Below is a brief list of the areas which we set up around campus:
- The main stage: The students who were ready to hit a big stage with a proper sound system had their chance!
- A DJ station with some drums: Emerging DJ’s strutted their stuff (Launchpad App on the iPad) with a friend on the drums if they wanted, and we had some ‘house-drummers’ who jammed along (with the DJ’s permission).
- An art exhibition: Lots of variety for students to wander around and appreciate the creativity from Visual Arts.
- A ‘how-to’ area: Students shared their learning with others in an informal way, showing others how to do something like uni-cycling, creating a beat in GarageBand, face painting, henna, origami, etc.
- A second DJ station: Prep and G1 owned the ‘Quad DJ stage!’
- A Karaoke room: The PA room was dedicated to karaoke.
- Dress-up room: Students who had created a character dressed up and walked around the campus in character. Some of them took hand puppets with them and used them to interact with others.
Every student from Prep to Grade 5 signed up for at least one thing.
The data from the student sign up gave us an idea of the numbers for each experience. For example, from this data we ascertained that we would need 2 DJ stages to cope with the volume of sign-ups.
We wanted to promote a sense of freedom rather than students being micro-managed. Staff helped manage students and we had schedules posted up to give students a rough idea of which grades were performing where and at what time.
So, how did it all go on the day?
The atmosphere was as warm and welcoming as the weather!
Overall, students managed themselves very well and supported each other’s performances. It was a lot of fun, and probably the most diverse creative event I’ve witnessed at a school.
Was it worth it? Absolutely! It was a great start and definitely worth all the work. Students ‘strutted their stuff’ at a level that they were comfortable strutting, and of course, they were strutting the stuff that they had chosen to strutt!
In other words, they were sharing and celebrating a process which had provided them with agency.
Here’s how students responded to our reflection survey after the event:
(1=Not at all! … 4=Totally!)
So, did the students believe that it was a fun and worthwhile event?
I guess it’s fair to say “most of them did, most of the time.”
Of course, there was the occasional drama but what’s a festival without a bit of drama!
Students also made comments and suggestions. I think that it was important for students to let us know what we can do better next time; a powerful message from us to them acknowledging that we too are on a learning journey.
As teachers, we were modeling the process of being risk-takers and showing our vulnerability to the community.
We held a short reflection session for teachers where they also filled in a Google Form and had the chance to make suggestions for next year.
Here are a few ‘tweaks’ for the coming year:
- We will focus on the strand of ‘responding’ more next year; some acts needed more of an active audience (with so much happening, students were generally more focused on their own performance).
- Including the Secondary School: We did have the Secondary Ensemble play, and some acts were performing during secondary lunch, but next year we have agreed to hold an “Arts Week” which will involve the whole school… bigger, better and more inclusive… FANTASTIC!!!
- Run the festival for longer (as ex-classroom teachers, we didn’t want to take too much time away from class, but everyone agreed afterward that it would be worthwhile. Again, The Arts Week is coming next March!
- A team of teachers and students to organise the event: People who are trained to manage a station. As a reference point, on the day last year, I covered over 20KM according to my iPhone! I jokingly called it “The Arts Fitness Regime”, but in reality, I probably did the job of a few people and a team will be greatly appreciated.
- More water stations: An easy fix!
So there it is; we started something.
Something which we hope will grow and flourish for many many years to come.
Do you do something similar in your school? I would love to find out!
If you don’t, could it be possible, in some shape or form?
I’d love to support your process, and just as happy to be supported in mine!
Let’s connect 🙂