St. Francis Xavier Gr 6
Arts Education, Language Arts, Science
St. Francis Xavier School, Vancouver
Connection to the Vancouver Biennale Exhibition
Walking Figures (Magdelena Abakanowicz, Poland) – Students explored how the sculpture evoked different emotions and personal themes.
The curatorial theme of the 2014-2016 exhibition is Open Borders / Crossroads Vancouver. This project relates to the Exhibition Theme in many ways:
- Crosses boundaries as students learn about the experiences and challenges of their classmates
- Creates a crossroads of understanding and communication as students learn to be present with one another and the power of kindness
- Crosses boundaries as arts activities are used to learn about self awareness, science and personal health
Other Sources of Inspiration
What Does it Mean to Be Present by Rana Diorio
Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Kerry Lee MacLean
The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
Using a FEEL, IMAGINE, DO, SHARE model of inquiry, students explored methods to reduce stress, manage pressure and understand their selves and the world around them. Students discussed how Walking Figures represented their personal themes and feelings, inquiring into how art can be used to convey experience and emotion. Through mediation and sensory exercises, students discussed how being present and connected to your mind, body and environment increases happiness and reduces stress. Students applied their learning to creating acts of kindness for their community and explored the consequences of putting stress on the environment.
How can we manage our stress and deal with pressure more effectively by better understanding our selves, each other, and our environment?
Arts Education: Students explored how art can express personal themes by finding inspiration at Walking Figures and creating art of their own.
Language Arts: Students responded to various novels and stories, writing their own reflections, a kindness book and writing their own story.
Science: Students investigated the stress put on the earth through producing renewable and non-renewable sources of energy.
Exploring Themes of Stress through Art
The project began with a snowball activity, where students wrote down their main concerns and what was on their mind. They brainstormed different related ideas and came up with personal themes and challenges. The class then researched the artist Magdelena Abakanowicz and her life and inspiration. In class they learnt more about WWI, WWII and the Cold War, as a Polish teacher in their school shared his experience living in Poland during the Cold War and his escape to Canada. During their field trip to Walking Figures, students took photos of the installation and discussed the different angles of the sculptures. They then did a quiet mediation and wrote down their feelings. Students then took photographs again focusing on how the figures might communicate their feelings and connect to their BIG IDEAS. In class, students used their favourite images of Walking Figures to create a visual representation connecting the characteristics of the Walking Figures to their personal themes. With help from their artist, students created collages using magazines, words and thoughts from their notebook. They then wrote an explanation about what they noticed and believed was important about the images that they took.
Mindfulness and Kindness
Students went on a field trip to a park where they took part in meditation exercises, focusing on using their senses to be present and in the moment. Students shared their thoughts on the experience and took notes on what they sensed when exploring the park. In class, students read books about mindfulness and used the notes they had taken in the park to create their own version of the story What Does it Mean to Be Present by Rana Diorio. Students furthered their inquiry into mind to body connection by applying the concept to kindness. Students discussed how being self-aware allows individuals to be kind to themselves and others. They watched a video of The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde and discussed how the Prince was happy because he was present and engaged with the world around him. Students then brought items representing kindness and shared their stories of kindness to the class. With their artist, students presented skits about unkind and kind acts, exploring the concept of a good Samaritan by watching a video. Students discussed how they could be kind in school, the community and the world. They came up with lists of kind acts and recorded kind acts that happened throughout the day in a Kindness Booklet.
Connecting to Science
In class, students learnt about renewable and non-renewable sources of energy and discussed the pressure and stress that we put on the environment to create electricity. They learnt about the disadvantages of climate change and putting pressure on the environment. Conducting inquiries into the art found eatART, where artists harness renewable sources of energy to create art, students discussed how being grateful for their environment and the people around them can increase their happiness.
A collage from their photos taken at Walking Figures
A story about mindfulness
Poetry about their experiences in the park
A Kindness Booklet filled with acts of kindness
Skits on unkind and kind acts
Students shared their learning by performing acts of kindness in their class and school.
- First session and snowball exercise
- Field trip to Walking Figures
- Collage workshop with the artist and art making
- Field trip to the park
- Reflection and poetry in class
- Readings of mindfulness books
- Creation of mindfulness stories
- Screening of The Happy Prince, written by Oscar Wild
- Sharing of items and stories about kindness
- Drama workshop with artist, creating skits about unkind and kind acts
- Creation of Kindness Booklet and ways to be kind in their class, school and community
- Science unit of non-renewable and renewable sources of energy
- Inquiry into the stress put on the environment using art found at eatART.com
- Students shared their reflection on the project and what they are grateful for with the class