West Bay Gr 6

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


West Bay Elementary School, West Vancouver, BC



Mimi Ross, Tara Zielinski



Dina Del Bucchia



Two Grade 6 classes


Sources of Inspiration

Vancouver Biennale Legacy: Engagement (Dennis Oppenheim), IB PYP Exhibition, Inquiry and Big Ideas, Poetry/The Spoken Word as Expression



Students responded to the BIG IDEAS on Sharing the Planet taking a global perspective on local issues such as animal abuse/extinction, economics, drugs and alcohol, child labour and homelessness. Two classes of students demonstrated their research findings and understandings about global citizenships and community relationships in a poetry reading forum at Engagement sculpture (Dennis Oppenheim). In a joint effort of the classroom teachers and poet artist, the students were introduced to public art, poetic styles and concepts, storytelling and performance through poetry.



Sharing the Planet


Guiding Question

How do we become better global citizens through exploring communities and the relationships within and between them?


Curriculum Access

Arts Education – Drama and Visual Arts, Daily Physical Activity, Health and Career Education, Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical Education, Social Studies


Learning Process

Through Sharing the Planet unit of inquiry process, students at West Bay Elementary were inspired to create performance poetry from their research and were challenged by the public realm of the performance process. Through the Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS Education Program, Ms. Dina Del Bucchia collaborated with the teachers and students to build knowledge, enthusiasm, and skills around poetic expression and writing that is informed and inspired by public art and Sharing the Planet. Linked to the Central Idea of ‘People Demonstrate Global Citizenship by Taking Action’ and Lines of Inquiry: Rights and Responsibilities, Communicate and Relationships, Equal Access, Peace and Resolution, the students have initiated and explored a number of local issues with global implications.

Instead of expressing their research in an essay, the students present their responses on their choice of local issues through group poetry reading at the Biennale sculpture Engagement.


Student Creations

Creative Writing, Poetry and Public Spoken Words Performance


Taking Action

West Bay’s students implemented their BIG IDEAS to benefit their school, community, city and world. Action took many forms and included the following:

Creation of a website to educate the world about pollution’s detrimental effects on the environment

Healthy and litter-less bake sale to raise funds to go to environmental projects

Ballots from buyers at bake sale go into a draw to win a sapling to replant

Money raised to purchase and ‘save’ an animal through WWF (Example: WWF Gift Center)

Teaching a lesson to the Grade 4/5’s on animal rights

A filmed newscast posted to our district’s internal site on the effects of crime and gangs on youth

A field trip was arranged to Covenant House on the North Shore; following this creative bracelets were made with a ‘key’ attached describing the mood and effects of homelessness;proceeds bought food which was then donated to Covenant House to support homeless youth

A website was created to educate the public about the effects of the drug trade across borders

Posters to educate the school about child labour were created and shared with students and staff

Students took initiative to visit the SPCA in Vancouver

Teacher-initiated action included a compiled collage of photos that demonstrated the process as well as the students’ written poems in book form




Teacher and artist participated in Vancouver Biennale Sharing BIG IDEAS workshop



  • Introduced to Vancouver Biennale exhibition and BIG IDEAS Program
  • Explored Vancouver Biennale and BIG IDEAS online learning resources
  • Learned about the different styles of poetry and performance
  • Worked on performing poem exercise


  • Discussed and started research on local and global issues.
  • Explored and expressed the meaning of global citizenship in class
  • Learned about poetry through creative reading and writing workshop sessions
  • Brainstormed and developed their responses to BIG IDEAS in groups
  • Visited Vancouver Biennale public art Engagement together



  • Continued to explore the group topic
  • Continued with research and integrated their research into poetry writing
  • Continued conversation on taking action in class
  • Continued their learning of poetry through creative reading and writing workshop sessions
  • Began to develop ideas for their group performances
  • Rehearsed for their performances in front of their peers and teachers for critique.
  • Performed in public at Engagement site. The performance was streamed live and recorded on video.


  • Performed at school
  • Teachers reflected and shared the overall BIG IDEAS experience at a facilitated Celebration and Dialogue session with other participating teachers and students




“This process melded in perfect unison with our IB Programme. Additionally, using the Artist-in-Residence helped deepen the response and learning of the students (and of us). It almost took on a life of its own with the buy-in from the students. The ability to incorporate the ‘Arts’ into assessment of the curriculum is a valuable component of moving away from the traditional direct-teaching paradigm.”



“As I introduced students to new poems and poetic concepts they constantly exceeded my expectations with their level of curiosity, ability to assess and discuss and their enthusiasm for writing. Many students who seemed uninterested when I first began could be seen furiously typing or scribbling their ideas down when given the opportunity to write.“

“Working with Mimi Ross and Tara Zielinski was exceptional.”

“Throughout the process we had discussions about where we were in the process and the goals we all had as we moved forward.”



As one student noted, “Every time I look at art now I try to figure out what the big idea is.” Another student added, “The collaboration process provided me with performance support.” The students in general felt it would have been nice to view all (or most) of the Biennale sculptures in order to give them a broader range of topics for their poetry and perhaps more individualized choice.