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Blog: Thursday, March 10th, 2022

The Power of the Arts

Our driving question at the secondary level is “How can we create a co-constructed inquiry-based learning experience that is SEL informed?” Key underpinnings of this question are the understanding of student voice and choice or natural differentiation, student agency using inquiry, and leaning into social-emotional learning or connection with and understanding the learning needs of the students in the room. 

The applied and fine arts department/ classes have taken the lead at Mouat. In Technology, students are building their own robotic arms to meet the learning goal of understanding fluid power (hydraulics and pneumatics), articulated robot arms (torque motion) and end effectors while developing their design and manufacturing skills and balancing demanding teamwork and cooperation skills to accomplish the completed task. Students worked in teams to design and construct an arm that would allow them to move a golf ball from golf tee to golf tee. In this class each student team produced their own robotic arm with a wide range of ideas, implementation, and outcomes and all meeting the learning goals at various levels.

In Art, teachers naturally scaffold their lessons to meet the skill level of their students. The differentiation of materials, and application of theory allows for all students to enter the lesson at their starting point.  For example, grade 9 Art students were asked to apply their understanding of the Loomis face proportion theory to help develop their drawing skills. Students were encouraged to present their Hero in the form a portrait using black and white or colour. 

In Drafting, students used Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality headsets to complete a 3D rendering of their architectural design. In essence, students can virtually walk through their project taking the work from 1 dimensional to interactive. This gives students a chance to get a real life feel for their building designs enabling them to find deficiencies and redesign on the spot. The use of VR in architecture is a powerful tool and a glimpse of the future for our students to experience. 

While in Graphic Arts students kicked off their semester with a fun project inspired by famous illustrator Julia Rothman. Students created their own keychains by using imagination and inquiry to design symbols and metaphors to create meaning about themselves through consumable art. Each key chain was an opportunity for the teacher to get to know the learners in the classroom with a “Who Am I,” an important concept of a social-emotional informed classroom.

And over in Drama, the teacher embedded the students’ first or native language into the lesson. The unit focused is creating expression using a phone call scenario. Students are asked to pair up with another student and present their phone call in English with an emphasis on expression within the language.  Students whose first language is not English were given the opportunity to present their phone call in their first language. This differentiation allowed the freedom to focus on expression and delivery instead of the language.

LINDA POLLASTRETTI
Principal, WJ Mouat Secondary