Carisbrooke Gr 6/7

Arts Education, Language Arts, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies


Carisbrooke Elementary School, North Vancouver, BC



Michelle Phillips



Valerie Mason-John (aka Queenie)



Grade 6/7


Sources of Inspiration

Jasper for class poem, Echoes for Chair Design Challenge, Arcs, Echoes, Engagement, Freezing Water, Jasper, King and Queen and Walking Figures for group poems. Jasper for Ping Pong Launch Challenge



The students were inspired by Jasper to search for The Meaning of Life. They explored and reflected on life’s twists and turns through a class poem. The poem presents the metaphor of a twisted sculpture representing the human life journey. Learning under a joint effort of the classroom teacher and writer/poet, the students were introduced to public art, expressing themselves through spoken word, the technique of slam poetry and performing individually, in groups and as a class. Through this creative learning process, the students shared their feelings on the many challenges in life. The class poem is a compilation of Haiku and free verse that captures students’ personal reactions to Jasper.



The Meaning of Life


Guiding Question

How to find our path in life through its twists and turns?


Curriculum Access

Arts Education – Drama, Dance, Music and Visual Arts, Language Arts, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies


Learning Process

Carisbrooke students were engaged in a series of Vancouver Biennale inspired learning initiatives. Initially the students became familiar with the sculptures through a field trip, taking digital photographs and expressing themselves through writing. Then the students worked on a chair challenge design inspired by Echoes before starting on the BIG IDEAS program. Students were asked to select one of the Vancouver Biennale art installations and respond to it with the genre of Slam Poetry. Students were encouraged to write Slam Poetry that was passionate to them. On April 30th the students performed their class poem Twisted Lives in front of Jasper. In addition, students wrote team pieces and individual pieces that were performed at the school assembly for a slam poetry competition. The final learning project in the series was a Ping Pong launch pad design challenge referencing the structural design of Jasper.


Student Creations

Photographs, 3D Chair Sculptures, Group Poems and Individual Poems, Animoto Presentation, Public Poetry Performance



Oct: Preload through Cross-Curricular Projects

Went on a field trip to visit seven Vancouver Biennale legacy sculptures

Took digital photos of the sculptures and the urban surroundings as part of a digital literacy class project

Began research on the concept of BIG IDEAS learning through the arts

Worked on a chair challenge design assignment inspired by Echoes.


Teacher and Artist prepare BIG IDEAS project plan

Teacher and Artist participated in the Vancouver Biennale Sharing BIG IDEAS Workshop

Completed short research exercise using the Vancouver Biennale online learning resource


Composed group poems on their responses to a selected Biennale sculpture and presented in class

Debated and selected one sculpture for class poem project

Introduced to spoken word, slam and page


Explored group performance ideas and added music to the performance

Developed performance storyboard


Worked on editing the class poem and refined public performance

Performed poetry as individual and in group in an in-school slam poetry competition. The guest judges were the Grade 6/7 class from Norgate Community School in North Vancouver (a BIG IDEAS participating school)

Performed publicly at Jasper site


Teacher shared the BIG IDEAS project experience at the Biennale Dialogue session with other schools.

Students worked on a Ping Pong Launch Pad Design project taking inspiration from the structural design of Jasper



Teacher: “The following poem is dedicated to the wonderful students of division 2. I am so proud of all of you for taking a risk in writing and sharing your slam poetry. You have impressed me in so many ways. If you don’t take chances in life, you may not seek all its rewards! Well, you did take a chance and I hope it is something you will always remember.

Twenty years from now, you may be taking your own child to a park around the city of Vancouver and your child might point to a sculpture that captures their interest; a magnificent spill of liquid water caught in the air and stopped in motion or a group of bronze figures laughing hysterically. What meaning will these sculptures have for you then?”

Artist: “We hope students from Carisbrooke School and other young people will be encouraged by their work. It was an inspiration working with all the students, and I was overwhelmed by the commitment of students to the whole process.”


“The sculptures have shown me glimpses of other peoples’ lives and what they care about. They have opened my eyes to the World around me…”

“The Biennale project has given me a new view on art which I think has given me a better understanding of it.”

“I think I will always remember participating in this project. I will never look at the sculptures again in the same way.”

“The sculptures have really opened my eyes to the problems, cultures and thoughts of people around the world. Now, whenever I see artwork, I stop and think about the meaning of it.”

“The way I see things is different from before.”

“Queenie really helped me get over the fear of public speaking. I feel confident learning from her because she actually does this for a living!”

“I really enjoyed interacting with the sculptures.”

“It was great to get professional advice from an actual performing artist.”

“It has been great because I get to write the things I want to.”

“The project made me think that sculptures have actual meaning and aren’t just a hunk of metal.”

“I connected to the big ideas.”

“I liked writing the slam poetry because I could express myself through paper and voice.”

I have taken lots of things from this experience.”

“Queenie motivated me a lot.”

“The sculpture made me feel more free like I can make a decision by myself.”

“We really had to look inside ourselves to find something to write about.”

“Our performance artist (Queenie) helped a lot with inspiration and confidence. She really motivated us with her really strong presence when performing.”

“When we perform, I will be able to show myself and what I am capable of doing.”

“Before our very first Biennale trip, I had seen the sculptures while driving around Vancouver and thought they were just art with no big idea. But now I think the artist has sculpted this piece to communicate something important.”