Monday, 14 January 2019

City Hall School: Langevin School Grade 6

Why do we value active citizenship? And how can stories effect change? As Langevin Grade 6 students zeroed in on the persuasive power of writing, they found beehives of mighty story-making within a few steps of the City Hall School classroom.

Calgary’s fabulous new downtown library is just a hop across the street from the Municipal Building, in East Village. There students met Anna Dunne-Hussey, Library School coordinator, who encouraged them to remember books that have opened their eyes and their minds. Students recalled many titles, and a standout was The Breadwinner, Deborah Ellis’s compelling novel about a girl in Taliban-era Afghanistan.

East Village is also home to Loft 112, a collaborative and supportive space for writers, readers, artists, and storytellers. Lisa Murphy-Lamb, a writer and editor who facilitates creative happenings there, introduced students to poems that spark change. One was about low-income residents displaced by neighbourhood gentrification, while another was written by a local teen who questions the way people perceive her. With Lisa’s help, students brainstormed about change and connected their ideas to others in the room.

Just a few steps out the front door of the Municipal Building is the weekly (free!) ProArts concert, where the Langevin students discovered singer-songwriters -- another community expressing their opinions. Little Miss Higgins and Bessie Wapp told stories with their songs, including one about women’s frustration with traditional roles.

Back in the City Hall School classroom, students met Sam Hester. Sam is a keen observer of the world at her doorstep, and you might have seen her work around town -- maybe during a meeting about the Green Line, in the online Sprawl, or in the Ramsay community newsletter. Students learned that Sam used to think Calgary was boring, but communities in other countries were interesting. “When you think things are special or important, you pay attention to them in a different way,” she said. Then she turned her attention to the extraordinary hiding in the ordinary, right in her own neighbourhood and city. Sometimes Sam takes notes to capture others’ opinions, and sometimes she uses cartoons and words to voice her own ideas.

Throughout the week, the students considered ways to contribute to a community, such as by serving in public office or on a public committee, community association, or jury. Downtown exploration helped the Grade 6 class to notice problems, needs, and opportunities. Finally, the Calgary Foundation’s Julie Black shared inspiring examples of community building and engagement by Calgarians of all ages (including classmates from their very own Langevin School).

An energizing week of rich discussions about civic action, including the power of one person and the power of words.

At the library, students considered quotations about the power of books, and wrote titles of powerful books they’d read.

Sam Hester illustrated the transformation of her thinking, from Calgary as a boring city, to Calgary as a fascinating city. We left the graphics on the board overnight, to see if students could recall the meaning of each graphic the next day. They absolutely did! 

~ Sheila Bean, City Hall School Coordinator

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Jube School - Creating Story through Fibre Artistry

The Grade 6 students from St. Pius School came to Jube School to explore Storytelling.  Through the week, students explored lighting, audio, the stage, drumming, shadow and the visual arts. Experts and students worked alongside each other learning, guiding and questioning our big idea.

Students were tasked to design a picture from nature that brought them joy, calmness or inspiration. Having a vision, the students met with Fibre Artist Leah Donald, from ArtFelt Studios. Leah taught us about how the wool has to be washed in warm water to take the lanolin out of it so the wool can take dye and how to keep the wool “fresh” and not “scrunched” so it is easier to work with.  Working from the top to the bottom of their creation, needling at a steady rhythm and “respecting the needle”, the students were meticulous in ensuring there were no empty or blank spaces.

Throughout the 2.5 hour workshop students learned about mixing colours of wool by ripping and stacking it, the pinch test and the pinch and patch test.  The results were breathtaking.  Students amazed themselves with their final creation and were surprised at how easy and stress free felting was.

The students’ artwork will be on display at the Southern Alberta Jubilee January 11 – March 1, 2019

Karen Youngberg - Jube School Coordinator

Monday, 26 November 2018

2School - Evergreen Grade 3 - What Matters for the Future of Calgary?

What Matters for the Future of Calgary? - Evergreen School, grade 3

Evergreen school examined their question through the unique perspectives from the land, the people, and the built environment of our city. Using these stories as a lens, students were able to understand how these factors have been shaped by the past, affect the present and how they might plan for the future of Calgary.

The land taught the students about Mohkintsis, the traditional Blackfoot name for Elbow, referring to the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. This is the name which we now call the City of Calgary. By acknowledging the importance of the rivers and the land, students began to understand the origins of our city and the ancestors who were here before us, how their lives were shaped by the land and how their stories live with us today.

The built environment, which included architecture, infrastructure, parks and public spaces, taught students about how the urban environment shapes the ways in which we live and services that we can access. Students came to understand how stories about time were told through architectural styles and materials, how roads and sidewalks told stories about what is valued, and how parks and public spaces could leave us in awe and provide us with nature, which we ourselves are a part of.

The people’s perspectives illuminated the care and belonging that is present throughout our communities. Students gained perspectives by hearing about Calgary’s Chinese community coming together to create a rich and vibrant Chinatown, in spite of discrimination experienced in Calgary and Canada. Students also learned about Annie Davidson, who petitioned to get Alberta’s first library built so that the citizens of Calgary could come together in a space to learn. All around our downtown students witnessed community coming together to support each other, which challenged their ideas about what it means to be “in need” and the students wanted to play a part in sharing their kindness with the community.

Evergreen students thoughtfully designed and created hats in their knitting club over their lunch hour, with the intention that they would be left around the city while at 2School, not knowing where they would end up. This random act of kindness highlights compassion and care for our communities and the many people who may be “in need”. It shares the story of how quiet voices and small actions can have big impacts in our city.

So what matters for the future of Calgary? Evergreen classes came to the understanding that what really matters is a deep sense of care and thoughtfulness that everyone’s story matters. By learning from our past, and collaborating and helping each other in the present, we are able to accomplish much more than we can on our own to make the future a better place.

~ Margeaux Montgomery, 2School Coordinator

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

2School - How Do Our Experiences Shape our Identity and our Worldviews?

John Ware, Grade 8 - How Do Our Experiences Shape our Identity and our Worldviews?

Throughout the week at 2School, Grade 8 students thought about the many social, cultural and institutional structures that are a part of their lives. Students began to ask questions about how these might challenge or reinforce their own personal worldviews, and how single stories about people, events and issues can be dangerous and limiting.

What is the greatest thing the land has taught me?
Working alongside a CBE Indigenous learning specialist, Lesley Tait, students came to understand that multiple worldviews can be held together. By learning how knowledge can walk alongside each other, students recognized that this gathering of knowledge is true, important and beautiful. That they can complement and enhance, rather than alienate. That an Aspen tree can teach us about community and what it means to live in a place and also have a latin name and be deciduous.
Working with NovAtel 

Questions around STEM innovations, sparked the opportunity for students to ride an Electronic Autonomous Vehicle (ELA) shuttle and to hear from engineers from NovAtel, who designed the tracking device. Students reflected on the willingness of citizens to embrace autonomous vehicles and how cultures around driving and city planning will be influenced by this innovation. a place and also have a latin name and be deciduous.

Students examine Day of the Dead exhibit. 

BUMP. What story does this tell us about Calgary? 
Students also examined what stories are being told through public spaces (New Central Library), the arts(Calgary Opera), architecture and the land (Weaslehead Flats) to understand how perspectives shape our worldviews and the identity of our city. Students asked the question, what are the stories that the Beltline Urban Murals Project (BUMP) is telling about Calgary? Through examining the art in the district, students came to interpret the stories that were being shared about Calgary and also identified stories that were not told. Students' reflections illuminated the need for multiple stories and perspectives of our city to be highlighted by our art, as it is an important way to message our identity and provide a more complete story of who we are.

In meeting with the Deputy Chief Superintendent Jeannie Everett and School Trustee Julie Hrdlicka, students were able to understand different perspectives in public education, what is important now and how students are being supported in their learning.

Students discovered that there are many layers that inform our worldviews and identity. By questioning their assumptions of what “normal” means they have begun to open
opportunities for dialogue and change, in themselves, in the community they live in, and in our city.

Web of our week’s explorations 

~ Margeaux Montgomery, 2School Site Coordinator

Monday, 12 November 2018

Jube School - Creating a Story of Community

Through Campus Calgary/Open Minds, three grade six classes from Monterey Park School came to Jube School at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium to discover Community.  Each class explored, created, and connected to their community through puppet making, puppeteering, and various technical workshops with Jubilee Experts.  Each class created a different animal in the Lantern Puppet Creation, lead by Dean Bareham of the Green Fools Theatre Society. 
First, an armature was created from wire and ¼” rounded reed was woven through it.  Students carefully taped joints so the reed wouldn’t move.  Battery operated lights were strung throughout the puppet ensuring a beautiful glow.  Next, using a mixture of white glue and water, students cautiously added squares of rice paper to the body of our puppet.   Fans were turned on ensuring the rice paper would dry in a timely manner. 

The Grade Six students had to work together and find a common language and rhythm that allowed them to build, cut, shape and glue.  They were surprised that each puppet took a whole week to create and that the creative process took a lot of teamwork, communication and patience. 

When all of the pieces were dry, each puppet was put together and bamboo sticks were attached so the students could manipulate them. The grade sixes were ready to learn how to become puppeteers! Students found out very quickly the importance of working together and communicating with each other to move their puppet.  The students are proud of their work and look forward to showing all the students in their school their creations.

~ Karen Youngberg, Jube School Coordinator