Kerrisdale Gr 7

Arts Education, Health and Career Education, Language Arts, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies


Kerrisdale Elementary School, Vancouver, BC



Jane Spencer



Christina Gasper and Andrea Loewen



Grade 7


Sources of Inspiration

Vancouver Biennale Legacy: Echoes (Michel Goulet), Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver, Journey Metaphor in Literature, Marsville Science Project, Contrast of nature and city in Vancouver



Students responded to the BIG IDEAS that life is a journey with the message that ultimately what we need is within ourselves. Collectively, they created and performed publicly a drama titled The Girl Who Wanted More to express their learning. Students engaged in a cross-curricular learning experience integrating the exploration of the technology needed to survive in extreme environments in their response. The performance tells the story of a girl looking for change who ends up making a move to the city from a home in nature. At first she is enthralled by all the city has to offer but soon she gets tired of the noise and bustle. She then is attracted to the idea of living on Mars. Again she is ecstatic for a while but eventually she became disenchanted by the reliance on technology. She returns to where she began and is more appreciative of what she had to start with.



Life is a Journey


Guiding Question

What are true values and meanings in my life?


Curriculum Access

Drama, Language Arts, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Health and Career Education.


Learning Process

The BIG IDEAS project has provided the students at Kerrisdale Elementary a cross-curricular learning opportunity integrating key learning concepts from the beginning of the school year including: the theme of the journey in literature and the figural and literal meanings in poetry; the elements and properties of art and how they are combined to create another language with which people can express thoughts, feelings and their connections to the world around them; the Marsville project and the exploration of the technology needed to survive in extreme environments. Most explicitly, the students explored the creative process, the discomfort of taking an idea and trying to expand it into something meaningful. As they share ideas, build on the ideas of others, and try out different options, they learn to cooperate, collaborate and celebrate together.


Student Creations

Poems, Short Stories, ‘Tagxedo’ images and a Public Theatrical Performance



Sep – Feb: Preload through Cross-Curricular Learning

  • Language Arts: Theme of journey in literature
  • Language Arts: Figural and literal meanings in poetry
  • Arts Education: Expression of thoughts, feelings through arts
  • Science: Technology in Extreme Environment


  • Introduced to Vancouver Biennale Exhibition and BIG IDEAS Program
  • Explored personal responses to ‘Echoes’
  • Created poems, short stories and shared them on a Wiki
  • Discussed ordinary objects and their environment
  • Agreed on a chosen short story as the performance theme
  • Practiced physical movement in relation to theatre games, music and poetry


  • Visited Echoes on-site to discover outside setting – space and sound
  • Participated in drama activities as well as working on their part of the story
  • Developed story through physical theatre and vocal work
  • Practiced performance skills
  • Rehearsed on site and worked on performance skills


Two class representatives participated in the Biennale BIG IDEAS program debrief session with teachers and artists to reflect and comment on their learning experience and outcomes.




“The experience of working on this BIG IDEAS project has been a very positive one. It has allowed our Grade 7 class an opportunity to integrate a lot of the learning which has been happening since the beginning of the school year.”

“Most explicitly, we have been working on exploring the creative process, the discomfort of taking an idea and trying to expand it into something meaningful. As we share ideas, build on the ideas of others, and try out different options, we learn to cooperate, collaborate and celebrate together. Those key dramatic skills of being aware of what people are doing around you, listening for cues, making mistakes work with the script, being able to remain still when necessary, and speaking to the audience, have all been explored. The way students have worked together, in a fairly short amount of time, to create a performance piece which embodies so much of what they have been learning throughout the year, and which will hopefully engage a wider audience, has been very impressive. For our Grade 7’s, at Kerrisdale Elementary, the experience of participating in Vancouver Biennale’s BIG IDEAS project has been an amazing opportunity to experience art in different ways and to really work together with some drama professionals to achieve a common goal. We would like to thank the Biennale organizers and their supporters for this awesome opportunity.”



“We have found this project with Vancouver Biennale to be an extraordinary opportunity for the students and ourselves. We have facilitated a space for the student to explore creativity and contemporary, abstract thinking in a new light.”

“They were learning things about themselves. They were learning skills that they could maybe use in other parts of their lives and they were learning about each other.”

“What I really got out of the experience was seeing the importance of helping them see that kind of dissonance and anxiety of not knowing what the final product would be. In the end it was for us to remind them that the not knowing what it’s going to look like is ok and to try and trust the process that it will become something.”



“The chairs were all in a line, which is nothing special at first. When we worked more with the chairs, we then saw two chairs together can be a conversation. You can sit on those chairs and have tea together. Two chairs back to back could symbolize anger among in people. We read the quotes on the chairs to develop the stories. “

“It was the time for us to shine, an opportunity to be ourselves and kind of just show how talented we all are in special ways.”

“I thought it was really kind of strange for us because we were performing in other schools, in front of other people that we didn’t know but it was interesting and fun. It was like learning but outside.”

“A lot of the sculpture had to do with the quotes because there were very interesting quotes written on the chairs. That is actually where we got our ideas for the story and we choose quotes that really spoke to us.”