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Celebrating as a community that’s learning

Reflection - what these stories exemplify

exemplar wheel

These stories show learning in context and the genuine choices and decisions each child was able to make throughout the visual arts project.

They demonstrate the level of skill able to be achieved by members of this group in their knowledge about paint, printers ink, and specific visual arts techniques and processes.

They exemplify the level of interest and depth of understanding this group of children has for an art project they were involved in for several months.

Key competencies

This group of children display the key competencies of relating to others and participating, from the initial recount and discussion about camp, to the sharing of ideas about paint or where to hang and display the work.

How might these stories strengthen the students’ identities as learners?

The group of children moved from a point of hesitation about getting involved with paint to being confident decision-makers ready to choose and combine colours, work with different media, take risks, and support each other as a community of learners (continuity and depth).

They shared blended paint combinations, they used the sewing machine in pairs, and they talked about, commented on, and viewed each others’ work physically and on a slide show on the computer (breadth, continuity, and depth). They collaborated on the big canvas and shared their thoughts about joining the smaller works together (depth). They borrowed each others’ good ideas after seeing what worked well (depth).

For more information on the four dimensions of agency, breadth, continuity, and depth (ABCDs), refer to Narrative assessment: a guide for teachers.

Learning areas

Level 1 the arts

Levels 1 and 2 science

Level 1 technology

Our main focus has been visual arts but it also incorporates learning from science – the living world, technology, and education for sustainability. We noted the two children in our group who were able to speak could use the language of visual arts with confidence soon after learning a new technique and especially after putting it into practice (inking up, layering, scraffito, stencilling, blending, composition).

Effective pedagogy

What does this tell us about teaching and learning in this setting?

Helen (art advisor) took a genuine interest in the group. The filming of the process and the regular interviews to record the thoughts of the children about what they had done was a catalyst for a great performance (creating a supportive learning environment). The teacher and support staff also felt this group, often overlooked, had potential for greatness. Helen helped introduce us to a vehicle that all the children could access and achieve through. The children produced many quality pieces individually and collaboratively of which they and their families and friends were truly proud (providing sufficient opportunities to learn/facilitating shared learning).

The teacher and support staff’s knowledge of the group, and their collective thinking about how the children could access materials and achieve best, was all part of the project (making connections to prior learning and experience).

The teacher and Helen planned the sessions to coincide with the best levels of staffing and at times of the day when children were performing to their potential. We had carefully chosen equipment and lots of paint colour choice. Authentic choice making was a key pedagogy throughout the process (enhancing the relevance of new learning). Throughout the project we maintained an open and flexible approach so as to be ready to respond to the children’s learning as it grew, developed, and changed over time (teaching as inquiry). The teacher and facilitator regularly reflected on the effect of the teaching on the students (teaching as inquiry).

Each child saw themselves as an artist by the end of the project, they each had an understanding of their worth and the importance of theirs and others’ contributions. The students were given opportunity to reflect and respond after each practical session and at other intervals over the several months of the project (encouraging reflective thought and action).

Reflective questions for the reader

“How much time do I allow for children to respond to reflective questioning?”

“How do I enable non-verbal children to give and receive feedback about their work?”

“How can I involve my students in every part of the process?”

“Do I expect enough of my students every day?”

“Do I listen to my students when they tell me or show me something?”

“Do I try another way when something does not work out?”

“Do I display the artwork of my students in a place for all to enjoy?”

“How can I expose my class to many forms of visual art and music regularly?”

Useful resources

Arts online. Weblink http://arts.unitec.ac.nz. Accessed on 1 June 2009.

Hunt, J., & Lucas, R. (2004). From weta to kauri: a guide to the New Zealand forest. Auckland, N.Z.: Random House.

Ministry of Education. (1999). Guidelines for environmental education in New Zealand schools. Wellington: Learning Media.

Ministry of Education. (2002). Painting – Exploring the visual arts in years 1–6. Wellington: Learning Media.

Ministry of Education. (2002). Printmaking – Exploring the visual arts in years 1–6. Wellington: Learning Media.

Ministry of Education. (2002). Fabric and fibre – Exploring the visual arts in years 1–6. Wellington: Learning Media.

Ministry of Education. (2007). He papahuia toi Maori: Maori visual culture in visual arts education, years 1–6: Unit 1: Ngā āhua o Tāne. Wellington: Learning Media.

National visual arts exemplar level 2 – “A strip of Aotearoa”. Weblink http:www.tki.org.nz/r/assessment/exemplars/art/visarts/va_2a_e.php.

Robertson, H. A., & Heather, B. D. (2005). The hand guide to the birds of New Zealand (Rev ed.). Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin Books.


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