Carson Graham Gr 11/12 and Westview Gr 7
Arts Education, Language Arts, Social Studies
Carson Graham Secondary School, North Vancouver, BC
Westview Elementary School, North Vancouver, BC
Carson Graham Secondary: Teresa Anton, Michael Blake
Westview Elementary School: Kammi Clark, Alexis Fletcher
Grade 11 and 12, two Grade 7 classes
Sources of Inspiration
Vancouver Biennale Legacy – Walking Figures
Ted Talk ‘If I Have a Daughter’ by Sarah Kay
The students were inspired by how the artist, Magdelena Abakanowicz created ‘spaces to contemplate’ offering sanctuary to the audience. Guided by their art teacher, student teacher, classroom teachers and a spoken words artist, the students were introduced to the BIG IDEAS of Body, Mind and Heart and explored how bullying affects the whole person. The students wrote poems to encourage taking action to overcome bullying and shared their message with other students during Pink Shirt Day. Stained glass windows, a transparency metaphor, were created by Carson Graham students offering shared safe spaces from the effects of bullying.
Body, Mind and Heart
Does bullying affect the body, mind and heart? How can we create a safe space for everyone?
Language Arts, Arts Education – Visual Arts, Drama, Social Studies
This project concept was developed by a Carson Graham senior student who wanted to explore solutions to bullying in their visual art class of 14 students. The engagement was extended to 45 elementary students at Westview who will be entering Carson next fall. This collaborative learning process empowered the groups through risk taking, communication, open-mindedness, reflection, principled action and caring behaviour.
Working with the spoken words artist, the stage was set as the students began to dialogue their personal bullying experiences. Under the guidance of the teachers, the students discussed the Walking Figures and were inspired to create safe spaces as their solutions to bullying. The slam poetry then took a creative twist exploring what it meant to be safe, how to be safe, and why safe spaces are important. Through this project, these multi-grade students demonstrated leadership in overcoming bullying through creative expressions and actions including writings, performances and visual art exhibitions.
Spoken Words Performances
Stained glass panes
How did the students promote their learning to the broader community for long-term influence. The focus being students as learners and communicators, to engage with an audience to get feedback, and ideally, the action is propelled even further.
- Over 600 students on Pink Shirt Day listened, on the hour from the moment school began, to a poem about anti-bullying
- Over 200 elementary students listened to a ten minute presentation on anti-bullying on Pink Shirt day
- The whole school community and some parents watched videos about anti bullying and heard about their project
- High school students chose to reach out to the community by walking to Westview and presenting their ideas on safe spaces around bullying inspired by Walking Figures
- Exhibition of photographs and text was produced by Westview students for the school community and visitors to see. They created a wall and wrote on every brick.
High school students have created window panes installations offering shared safe spaces away from bullying.
Teachers and artist project planning session to set learning objectives and artist session schedule to begin in January.
Full day sessions at both schools.
- Introduced Biennale
- Introduced bullying/roles we play/call to action
- Importance of ground rules/different forms of bullying/how it impacts the body, mind and heart
- Shared personal feelings in bullying/what roles did we all play
- Created team Animoto videos to express feelings/take action messages
Westview students created a Walking Figures photography and text exhibition to share their personal responses and feelings
- Made personal connection to the sculpture·
- Caron Graham students shared their insights on bullying – what they already know
- Carson Graham students formed self-selected groups to started image development surrounding safe spaces and making stained glass pieces
- Performed research on the history of slam poetry
- Introduced slam poetry
- Worked on slam poetry exercise
- Listened to slam
- Interviewed a slam poet
- Introduced performance skills
Shared message to raise awareness on Pink Shirt Day at both schools
- Performance rehearsal
- Carson Graham students shared their personal messages in class at Westview Elementary
Westview students shared their message during whole school assembly
- Carson Graham Students continued with their stained glass making and installation throughout the schools (art at expected places) to share their ideas on safe spaces
Teacher: Teresa Anton, Carson Graham
“Initially I do not think any of my students will perform as they have registered for a visual art class. However every student did stand up and said something. It was an excellent presentation and a genius way to interpret the walking figures. The window panes were fabulous. Some of the students facilitated a conversation about the Walking Figures and safe spaces and spoke about the transition to High School. At the end of the presentation at Westview Elementary, Carson students mingled with the Westview students, and let them know that they can help them out when they come to Carson next year.”
Artist: Valerie Mason-Johns
I commend every Westview students who got up and spoke in front of 300 kids. That in itself was a success. I came away knowing that students had managed to explore bullying through the Walking Figures and learnt skills which will last them for life. Students saw clearly how the body, mind and heart are harmed through bullying and the importance of not being aggressive or passive. When I first went into the classroom there were about six students who refused to speak. And I could not believe on the day of the presentation that every one of them got up and said something. The highlight of this work was when the teacher said: ‘We have never heard this student say two words since September. You come in and do a session on slam poetry, he has written a poem, and performed it. This has changed his world.’”
- “I really enjoyed working with Queenie and learning about bullying and slam poetry. This is such an important topic and being able to express myself with words like that was something I have never done before, and probably would not have done without this opportunity. It was definitely a highlight to be able to perform my poem both over the school announcements as well as for the students at Westview.”
- “I thought that this slam poetry unit was a great opportunity to try out a different art form. People sometimes forget that poetry is an art, because it isn’t a visual art, but it is art just as much as a painting is. I really appreciated that Queenie took the time to work with us and teach us about slam poetry. She was very encouraging and did a good job of giving us constructive criticism. I really enjoyed being able to share my poem over the intercom, as well as with the students at Westview.”
- “The slam poetry was an awesome opportunity to have and I enjoyed hearing everyone’s poems. It was so amazing. Knowing people can have such strong writing it was incredible getting to know most people in my class.”