Ms. Morden’s class of grade 1 and 2 learners bubbled with excitement as they got off the bus on a freezing February day. Students were filled with awe and wonder as they walked into Arts Commons and into “The Hub”, our new classroom for the week. This space quickly became one of the many places where they asked questions, finished sketches and reflected, and recorded their connections through pictures and words about “What Brings Us Together” on our graffiti board, documentation panels.
Students were instantly drawn to the downtown skyline outside the windows of our classroom. Locating familiar Calgary landmarks, making connections to prior knowledge, asking questions, and wondering: “Who works inside the buildings?”, “What buildings can you live in?”, “Which building is the biggest?” and “Why are the cranes not moving?”
During our week with Emma, students explored “What Brings Us Together” by creating Arctic landscapes, as well as Arctic animal puppets in order to tell stories of the Inuit people. Students quickly made the connection that, “Making art and looking at art brings people together” and “People watch plays and that is something that people like to do together.”
Building Arctic animal puppets allowed my students to engage in meaningful joyful play. As they worked with Gen to construct their sock puppets, students used elements of physical theatre to learn how to bring their puppet to life. Students took on the role of their animals by using their voices, body, and movement. My students continue to be excited to use their puppets to share what they know about Arctic animals and how animals can work together. We are continuing to use our puppets as they have become an important part of our writing process back at school.
Students also had the opportunity to explore the Jack Singer Concert Hall, hallways of Arts Commons, practice rooms within the theatre, Calgary’s new Public Library, City Hall, The Calgary Tower, The Bow Tower and learned how to navigate the Plus 15 pathway system. For many students, being downtown was a new and exciting experience. As a teacher, I was in awe of what made their eyes sparkle, and enjoyed having the opportunity to take a step back and look at the world through their eyes while journaling alongside them.
Through sketching, asking questions and connecting with experts my students have come to have a richer, more authentic understanding of “What Brings Us Together.” Students have gone from recognizing that family, food, communities and schools are ways that people come together to explaining that “buildings, roads, plus 15s and art are some of the ways that Calgarian’s are brought together.
Our week at “The Hub” was life changing for many of my students and they continue to ask when can we go back downtown. For me, this experience has brought my class closer together, relationships and an appreciation for each other has grown and developed, student’s strengths have shone in a different light, and we feel more connected as a classroom community. Even though our week is over, my students still continue to talk about it with excitement and wonder and I am confident for many it will be a highlight of their school year.
Grade 1/ 2 Teacher O.S. Geiger School