Art collaboration in teaching session

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Educational Leadership and School Improvement MEd/MPhil

Working in collaboration with Sue Swaffield with her 27 ELSI students. We plan an art  session based around the lesson plan to illustrate themes and journeys and to see how using art can aid or change perspectives or offer new insights. We use paper (white and coloured), glue, scissors, pens and oil pastels. Students work in groups and make paper cut out shapes to represent the themes and key ideas from their year. These quickly become multi-layered, complex and 3 dimensional.


They continue mapping their research journey using oil pastels to describe, visually, tasks set as a review of the year. During reflection and reponse students seem  animated talking about their work and how shapes represent different areas of their projects and thoughts. For most of the students this activity together, with Sue’s facilitation, enables deep reflections and analysis.

‘Engaging and thought provoking’

‘So freeing for the mind’

‘The activities built on each other well’

‘Innovative format, but we still managed to achieve our objective of reflecting on our learning and growth’

‘Creative, fantastic!’

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drawing and words 1 drawing and words 2

15 minutes workshop at end of Carol Holliday teaching session:

Moving and memory – remember a moment or event of joyness – adopt the physical shape or posture from this moment. Holding the feeling, the physicality of it.  Then find a position of joyless. Do you remember the place you were, your posture, the tension. What was your shape then – recreate the pose.

What exists in the area between these polarities. So what shape are you now what shape are you in.

Students worked in pairs and drew around each other on the large paper (now full of notes from their work). Shapes of bits of themselves or the whole of themselves – sometimes an elbow or a leg folded or a body in a difficult pose – there were overlaps and interactions – a map of marks. I asked them to write within their shape 3 words that eclipsed their discussions and learning today or that come to mind. From these they had to make a narrative in a few minutes only – a dialogue, a short story, a poem .

I asked them to consider their silhouettes on the large sheet of paper. They could cut them out and take them away but this suddenly seemed difficult because there were relationships and overlaps – what would be left? The negative space has its own nature.

Mini creative activity in teaching session