Cariboo Hill Gr 10/11/12 and Armstrong Gr 3 and 7

Arts Education, Language Arts, Social Studies


Armstrong Elementary School, Burnaby, BC

Cariboo Hill Secondary School, Burnaby, BC


Armstrong Elementary School: Jude Comeau, Richard Woo

Cariboo Hill Secondary School: Helen Geddes, Nicole Janot, Sue Montabello



Barbara Adler and Proud Animal Band



Grade 3,7 and mixed grade class 10-12


Sources of Inspiration:

Vancouver Biennale Legacy: Walking Figures, Canada Line City Hall Station


Grade 3:

The Great Kapok Tree, Body Rocks PSA from Concerned Children’s Advertisers Marvin’s Marvellous Marbles from Concerned Children’s Advertisers, Kyle Perry, song written by Proud Animal band about individuality


Grade 7:

Interpretation of advertisements, PSAs, and persuasive poetry, including: Dumb Ways to Die PSA, Infantry poem by Gabe Cudding, Spherical Man spoken word piece by Mike Mcgee, Kyle Perry


Secondary Students:

Interpretation of advertisements, PSAs, and persuasive poetry, including: Dumb Ways to Die PSA and In Defense of Advertising episode from The Age of Persuasion



Inspired by the Walking Figures, students responded to the BIG IDEAS about individuality taking a personal perspective on issues of conformity, peer-pressure and bullying. Students learned to understand and practise methods of persuasion, developing their media literacy and critical thinking in response to different forms of persuasive art and media. Three classes of students created visual art works, songs and spoken word pieces designed to motivate others to embrace individuality. These creations were shared among the groups at Armstrong Elementary and Cariboo Hill Secondary School.





Guiding Question:

What can we learn from the persuasive communication we face every day? How can we use the tools and techniques of persuasion to better share our big ideas?


Curriculum Access:

Language Arts, Social Studies, Arts Education – Music


Learning Process:

Armstrong and Cariboo Hill students started their Biennale experience with a joint field trip to the Walking Figures. Working in mixed-grade groups, students practiced close observation, viewing and interacting with public art from different vantage points. The students collaborated in small pods to present their first reactions to Walking Figures with public spoken word and movement performances at the Cambie Skytrain station. Following the field trip, the students shared deeper reflections about the Walking Figures and collectively refined the BIG IDEAS to Individuality. The artist and teacher team then facilitated exploration of different types of persuasive communication, including advertising, Public Service Announcements, songwriting and poetry. All students came together to share their personal message in a gathering at Cariboo Hill.


Student Creations:

Working with the individual classes, the artist and the students created Public Service Announcement posters\visual art pieces\video (Cariboo Hill), persuasive songs (Armstrong) and persuasive poems (Grade 7’s), all on the theme of individuality. The Grade 3’s developed their song into storytelling through drama with Sue Montabello and secondary student mentors.


Taking Action:

Students shared their creative messages at an intimate gathering and Q & A session with the entire group at Cariboo Hill, planting the seed for further connections between the elementary and secondary school.

Senior students from Cariboo Hill took a leadership role to mentor and co-develop a drama with the Grade 3 class and the principal from Cariboo Hill.




Project team attended Biennale Sharing BIG IDEAS session

Project planning session at school – all teachers present

Grade 7: Introduced to viewing and free interpretation of images


Introduced to Vancouver Biennale exhibit and BIG IDEAS Program

Introduced to writer/musician Barbara Adler

Practiced team writing; responding to creative prompts

Met project partners in different grades and made joint field-trip to Walking Figures

Practiced close observation of artistic work

Practiced teamwork and mentoring in creation of public performances as responses to the Walking Figures


Worked together and across class groups to confirm and develop the BIG IDEAS and guiding questions

Learned drama and improvisation games to practice focus and cooperation, and to develop good dynamic for group creation

Introduced to persuasion through advertisements, PSAs and songs

Elementary students created persuasive posters\PSAs

Grade 7’s introduced to techniques of persuasion, including comedy and audience engagement

Secondary students responded to ‘individuality’ theme in small groups, and created artistic project concepts for final sharing session

Elementary students created songs with Barbara Adler and band Proud Animal


Secondary students continued work on group artistic projects

Grade 3 class created a theatrical performance from the with Sue Montebello and secondary students

Grade 7 class learned about persuasion in poetry and practiced analyzing persuasive poems and spoken word

Grade 7 class completed their songwriting and practiced their performance

Some Grade 7 students wrote persuasive poems for individual spoken words performance

Final sharing session between all three classes, with performances of poems and songs, and presentations of visual art works


Written reflections




Jude Comeau, Grade 3 Teacher

“The Big Ideas project was a wonderful learning experience for both my class and me.

The way in which Barbara approached the project and the subsequent lessons were different from the various teaching styles the students have been exposed to. With differentiated learning as a focus, Barbara was able to tap into the interest levels of several students. With her background in music Barbara was able to teach beats, rhythms, and introduce the process behind writing lyrics. The end result was something everyone could take ownership of.

I feel the use of collaborative process reinforced how important it is to work with others. With this project, my grade threes were given the opportunity to work with grade sevens and high school students. Already I have seen a difference in their attitude toward collaboration. I rarely hear “s/he is copying me.” The students realize more and more how advantageous the sharing of ideas is.


I also feel this project dispelled the notion that older students can be scary. The presentations at the SkyTrain Station showed my class that the Grade 7’s and high school students were just as shy about performing as they were. But as it turned out, the younger students were able to accept the challenge more easily than the older ones.


The grade threes are becoming increasingly aware that creativity comes in all sorts of different ways. It isn’t always about something developed with pen and paper. Song writing, poetry writing, and drama are all vehicles for self-expression.”



Barbara Adler, spoken words artist and musician

“I was excited by the eagerness with which the students tackled challenging material, and their openness to try new kinds of expression. It was wonderful to see them improve in their ability to work together and make connections between ideas and concepts. Watching a group of students hit an “ah-ha” moment in understanding the persuasive tactics used by a poem, advertisement or PSA made the process of learning come alive for me. It was great to spend some time getting to know the classes and my teacher partners, and to feel like our project was having a positive impact on the ways the students will work, create and think together in the future.”



Cariboo Hill Students

“I like my group and would like to do it again.”

“It was hard to come up with the idea but end up to be a lot of fun.”

“The project gets me to think a lot.”

“I love the idea of doing a project with people I never talked to.”

“I like the fact there are a lot of options and not a lot of rules to follow. That way I got to do something I never got to do before.”

“I think the messages that we are trying to send out to the public is great especially in high school because people are trying to find themselves and often follow the routine so it is great for people to really think about what they are doing and who they are following.”

“Really liked working with Armstrong and Barbara. Working with young kids show a different perspective. Barbara helped to break the ice. At first the project feels unguided and eventually got on track. Enjoyed working with my team.”