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Developing Summer Primary School workshops with Reading School of Art Students

Following our 2017 workshops Summer Primary Workshops; ‘Making Public Together’ students from Art, and ArtLab artists Wendy McLean, Adam Stead and artist and ArtLab Phd candidate Jon Lockhart worked together over a number of sessions over the spring term.  Whilst developing the new workshop we were interested in how we could think about building a model for the workshops so they could be adapted by other groups; schools, and other educational groups and clubs.  We also focused on developing the workshop to support pupils and participants who were nervous or lacked confidence in performing stories, in part through embedding the sharing activity in the narrative of the projects through tasks or ‘missions’.

Development or themes and resources:

The sessions focused on: reflecting on our prior learning on ‘Making public together’ and sharing knowledge with new student co-researchers;areas for development listed above; brainstorming around the theme of Reading Abbey, developing a ‘kit boxes of resources’ for flexible sessions which provided a scaffold for session facilitators and maximizing ownership of ideas by primary school participants. Students were a mix of returning students in their second or third year working on summer primary projects and a large number of new participants across all years of BA Art courses.

Continuing from the previous years ‘scripts’ we focused on the idea of developing cards which would be opened by groups and contain a mission for them which served both to introduce the narrative of their creative investigations and embed the idea of sharing it with the whole class cohort from the beginning.  These sharing methods were intended to be integral to the mission, therefor negating the apprehension of choosing to perform something which earlier in the workshop may have been a quiet reflective activity.  We discussed at length the fact that some pupils struggled to switch between creative, intuitive making methods and to their vocalization; between inward and outward focused activity.

The second focused on refining the themes of each mission and considering the resources and prompts needed to facilitate enquiries, and the final session on consolidation.

Working with Reading Museum on Reading Abbey Revealed & Reading International:

The third development session was held at Reading Museum, gathering facts, objects and images to support the narrative of the day. As part of this workshop, Reading Abbey Learning Officer, Rhea Douglas, shared a workshop with us from the Museums learning programme.  This miniature museum activity, exploring object interpretation, placement and accompanying information in a museum context via the everyday objects in our bags.  We then visited the museums archives to see the museums loan box collect and learn about facilitating object handling with a primary group.  The discussions around these activities and the roll of objects ultimately influenced the development of the kit boxes, as a way of bring the abbey site to the classroom.

Outcome of development workshops:

The new session design included:

  • Miniature museum warm up & team building followed by exploring LittleBits activity
  • 4 parallel ‘missions’ delivered in sealed coloured envelopes by senior leadership team, with accompanying resource boxes including tech, props and prompts:

Above: Pink banquet Mission materials:

Example mission card & cut up technique words for invention activity.

+example videos including Science of Sleep exert, Mona Hatoum + and -, and LittleBit ‘bots’ (drawing machines)

+Building materials for recipe making and interactive foods; cups, paper plates, cutlery etc.

Above: Blue missing object Mission Materials:

-Mission card

-Blank postcards to send to the museum & a collection of postcards received by the museum

+Reading Abbey museum loan box, one object removed (see images above from museum workshop)

Above: Green Mapping mission materials:

-Mission card

-Abbey Map and OS map of local area

+Blindfolds and sensory surfaces for group activity

Above: Yellow Archaeologist Mission Materials:

-Mission card

-3D Scanning map (Qlone software)

+Box of 3d prints

Printed Placemats combining littleBits tips, feedback and abbey imagery:

screen shot 2018-12-07 at 17.41.09
screen shot 2018-12-07 at 17.41.19

+Videos introducing artlab and the abbey

Objectives of 1 day workshops:

  • to facilitate active, embodied learning in which children work together, considering different roles within a team, exploring ideas around the history and future of their home area, the people who have and will travel through, make, and live there and the culinary, material and architectural cultures which affect us.
  • Support pupils to in developing interpretation, invention, imaginative skills through ‘doing’ based learning
  • children experience peers learning and storytelling and share learning beyond session
  • experience with greater range of technology (see below)

Equipment and material

The four kits contained a number of pieces of technology new to the primary workshops in addition to craft and arts materials including:

-Littlebits ‘tackle box’ at every table

-Ipads for audio and video projectsscreen shot 2019-01-16 at 14.34.50

The one day workshops took place over 6 weeks and were delivered each day by teams of 4; a staff member and 3 student co-researchers.  In total 11 students from Art worked on the project from development through to delivering workshops.  To read about our different school adventures see here.

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