“How is it possible to facilitate individual inquiries across multiple grades in Performing Arts?”

This is a common question people ask when I explain the concept of individual inquiries in PA, especially across multiple grades.

It’s a fair question.

Firstly, we provide the time and space that’s needed. This year, in PA, we conducted a year-long inquiry into:

“Who we are as performing artists.”

(Also, we did away with the end of semester performances… detailed in a previous post)

This gave us all the time and space as we’re not tied to the six-week inquiry cycle. As the schedule opens up, the stress level lowers and imaginations are allowed to run free.

After a series of provocations highlighting the 3 disciplines of dance, drama and music, students reflected on what made them ‘buzz’ and then created a personal goal, similar to (or inspired by) that of the PYPx.

We call this a ”Dream Goal”

Similar to ‘SMART’ goals, dream goals are specific and timely. For example, “I want to create a 3-minute song on GarageBand”, rather than “I’m going to make some music” and students decide on a month when they plan to share, as motivation. The aim is to share at least one goal per semester, but if there’s a big goal in mind then this is flexible.

If a student is not ready to share during the month that they were aiming for, they reflect on why. Maybe they need to focus more, maybe they need extra support, maybe they ‘bit off more than they can chew’, or maybe they need to collaborate to make it happen. After a reflection, they continue with their goal (or a ‘refined goal’) and a new timeline.

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Students may start the journey as an individual inquiry, or they may wish to collaborate from the offset, or later on in the inquiry. For example, they may wish to create music for someone else’s dance, or to form a rock band with their peers when they can play a few chords on the guitar. They may start on their own and then need some backing music for a green screen project, and team up with another student who’s working on the Launchpad App. It’s an open journey with an emphasis on flexibility.

Here’s a simple system that I’ve put in place to help facilitate individual inquiries, whilst promoting student agency…

using QR-CODES:

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With so many different inquiries happening at the same time, I’ve devised a way to help students help themselves.

Once students have decided their dream goal, they can sign up using a QR-code. This is symbolic for them as they articulate their thinking and set a timeline. It’s also GREAT data for me as I can see the big picture of who’s doing what. It enables me to match up students for ‘mini-workshops’ as well as keeping track of when the sharing will take place.

Once students have signed up, at any time they can scan the RESOURCES QR-CODE which leads them to a bank (Google Sheet) of approved videos, quick start guides, etc (generally from YouTube and manufacturer’s websites). They can find a video which fits their need eg “How to scratch like a DJ”, or “How to unicycle”, or a link to a “Quick start guide pdf” to get them started on some computer music hardware.

Of course, I am also roaming around the class, checking in with individuals and groups, giving ‘mini-workshops’ and taking anecdotal evidence, but the QR-CODE system helps students become independent learners.

Students also use QR-codes to sign up for performances and to give feedback to each other as well as using them to provide me with their thoughts on the new ‘PA system’ at the end of the semester.

Every student from G2-G5 has a 1-1 iPad, so they can all scan QR-codes as and when they want. It’s a simple system and I can say that after a year of using it… it works.

So…

How can we stay on track, assess and share our learning?

In the next post 🙂

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