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October 11, 2016

Watershed Moment: Artists in the Classroom

Watershed Moment: Artists in the Classroom

Today's guest blog is by teachers from École Moody Middle School of the Arts in Port Moody, BC. This Spring, students dove into their school-wide theme of water along with visual artists Marisa Pahl and Adrian Walker for a memorable learning experience. This project was supported by an Artists in the Classroom grant.

Read their story, then maybe it's time to get your own creative project started in YOUR school. We've got you covered, with three easy ways to get started right away.


Our learning journey through the arts has been greatly enhanced with our Artists in the Classroom grant, which has allowed each pod (teams of three or four classes) to collaborate with a professional artist over a period of three months. Prior to this collaboration, our school-wide theme of water has been an important piece of creating a shared vision for all classes. The installations resulting from our learning and work are nearing their final presentation stage. At the beginning of June, each pod will be revealing their installation, which is grounded in our school-wide theme of water. Photography, paper mâché, crocheting and painting are just some of the mediums that have been explored by our students and staff during our creative process.

Earth Pod had daily art-filled moments in April and May! Guest artist Marisa Pahl helped students to design a Daily Art Challenge to suit their individual interests (personalized and passionate) and incorporate our water theme. Many methods were practiced and introduced, then each student chose or created their own 20 Day Art Challenge. During Marisa's last day with the pod she helped a group of students create a video that will share this learning journey through the arts.

In Fire Pod, photography has helped engage 90 students while working with artist Adrian Walker. Local walking field trips to Rocky Point have inspired a collection of photos for each student. The students' learning has led them to the lab to edit their photos with Adrian. Each student will select one piece to include in the mosaic of 90 photos that will be installed in our office. This digital arts experience has allowed students to empower their learning with technology while working both alone and collaboratively. This final installation will also reflect our water theme and provide a large piece of art to exist for many years to come.

Wind Pod staff and students are bringing together their new skills with paper mâché and crocheting to create a legacy art piece as well. Their aquarium installation will showcase ocean life that students learned about through the inquiry process during term two. Earlier this year, each student developed their own inquiry related to their learning about water. The background information learned during those inquiries has helped inspire this collaborative piece, also in cooperation with local artist Adrian Walker. We have learned, however, that crocheting skills often dictate what you can create... you may wish to create a sea star but sometimes those patterns are beyond the artist's ability. In the end, the opportunity to have 90 students work toward a common artistic installation goal has resulted in a positive learning experience with many hours of hands-on engagement.

Here are just a few student reflections about the experience:

"I loved ArtStarts and working with Marisa. She taught me different styles of art and textures. I hope next year she will come back!" —Laticia

"I enjoyed this five minute 20 Day Challenge because it lets me express myself and if I need a break, it is right here." —Dyson

"This was new and unique for me. I thought it was fun and a tiny bit challenging to make something new every day!" —Kai

"I love ArtStarts, it is very creative and I enjoy it very much." —Bobo

"I really enjoyed this project because there are endless possibilities to what you can do." —Student

"ArtStarts was very simple and made my creativity burst. It was fun and calming. I liked how it was silent while we were doing it. It also made me more interested in art." —Julie

"I loved it, it was entertaining for me to create something new out of random chance. Random generators are amazing!" —Laura

"I liked doing blackout poetry. It is just cool how many different things you can come up with in just one page." —Breena

"I really loved this art project because I could choose what I wanted to do and I had infinite choices." —Logan


Feeling inspired?

Here are 3 ways you can activate creative learning for young people...

1. Teachers and Artists — Apply for Artists in the Classroom Grants!

The project you just read about was supported by an Artists in the Classroom grant disbursed by ArtStarts in Schools and funded by BC Arts Council and the Province of BC.

Artists in the Classroom Grants bring professional artists into your classroom for unique learning experiences. Grants of up to $3,500 for small- to medium-scale projects or up to $10,000 for large-scale projects are available.

The next deadline to apply is October 17, 2016. Learn more and apply now at

2. Teachers — Register for the Upcoming Pro-D Day at ArtStarts!

Stand Out! Putting Learning on the Centre Stage through the Performing Arts is a full-day professional learning experience for BC teachers on Friday, October 21, 2016 at the ArtStarts Gallery in Vancouver. This event will engage your creativity while exploring arts integration as an approach to teaching.

Take part in two hands-on, skills-based workshops in the arts that aim to nurture your creative confidence: Page and Stage with spoken word poet Dia Davina and Physical Theatre in the Classroom with theatre artist Susan Bertoia. The workshops will be followed by a plenary conversation, facilitated by educator Leanne Ewen, on how we can immediately put these newly learned art skills into action in the classroom.

Learn more and register now at

3. Teachers — Apply for Funding to Support Your Profesional Development in the Arts

The Arts in Education Council of BC Fund offers grants to support teachers' professional development in the arts. Grants of up to $500 can be used to assist in the presentation or attendance of professional development workshops, clinics or seminars designed to increase the appreciation of the arts for K-12 teachers in BC schools.

The deadline to apply is October 28, 2016. Learn more and register now at

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