Where to from here

Image: Future directions, pathways and planning for all subjects within the creative arts.

Inside the creative arts curriculum

Listen to Erin Douglas from Winmalee High School and Aimee Rossler from Coonabarabran High School, unpack the teaching and learning strategies they used when participating in the creative casting call initiative.

Jackie King

The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales, Department of Education.

As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played. For they have performed age old ceremonies of storytelling, music, dance and renewal and along with all Aboriginal people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us also acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our Elders, past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.

Welcome to the Creative Cast podcast series. My name is Jackie King and I'm a Creative Arts Project Advisor with the New South Wales Department of Education. Today I'm excited to be announcing the winners and speaking to the teachers about our Creative Casting Call.

So now, without any further ado, drum roll please.

The winners of our term three Creative Casting Call are Alexander McWhirter from Coonabarabran High School for the music composition and Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School for the promotional tile. For those who are unaware, the Creative Casting Call is an initiative for Stage 5 creative arts students to design and compose for our podcast and the winners receive a $2,000 grant for creative arts in their school. Today, I'm very pleased to be joined by the teachers of the winning students, firstly introducing Erin Douglas from Winmalee High School. Erin is the teacher of Kaitlyn Scott, who is the year nine student who designed the winning promotional tile for our Where to From Here podcasts this term, which is really exciting. And so, I thought I might start, Erin, if you could give us a little bit of an idea of your school context at Winmalee High School and how creative arts fit into the school community there at Winmalee.

Erin Douglas

Winmalee High School’s a co-ed high school in the Blue Mountains. So we're in the mid mountain, so we're obviously blessed with living in such a beautiful part of the world as well as being home to a lot of really vibrant creative people within our community. So, we are really lucky in the sense that our community, and wirder community, has a really strong appreciation for the arts. So visual arts is just one of the three subjects that come under our CAPA department. So, we've got visual arts, we also teach visual design and photo media and then we have music and drama as well. And we really attract such a diverse range of students to our subjects in elective years, I suppose because we offer such a different way of looking at the world. This appeals to a lot of students that possibly do not feel as confident in the academic subjects or that's not really they're calling. We often attract a lot of those kind of kids to our subject to really look at the world in a different way, which is really lovely and we love to foster that kind of appreciation for perspective I suppose.

Jackie

I love that and I love that clearly creative arts has a fairly strong presence within your school community, which is fantastic. When we emailed your principal to say that Kaitlyn had won the tile, I was so excited when we got the response from her that actually had a design from Kaitlyn on her email signature. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Erin

Yes, our principal Voula Facas is actually a visual arts trained, which is fantastic, and she still teaches a couple of lessons. I actually share Kaitlyn's visual design class with, which is fantastic. So, we really, you know, get to collaborate and come up with wacky ideas for our kids to do. So Voula is also Kaitlyn's teacher and during this learning from home period, Kaitlyn has just absolutely thrived. She has gone above and beyond. Just one of those kids that wants to do her very best in absolutely everything and challenge herself and Voula actually asked her if she would come up with a design for her email signature. The design is the one that Kaitlyn submitted to her and Voula actually has decided that she's kind of going to rotate through the design for her email signature with different students to showcase our visual arts students work.

Jackie

So when we put out this little competition, we suggested that the promotional tile could have been covered in visual design, PDM or drama. So, I'm guessing just as the conversation is flowing that the class or subject that Kaitlyn completed her design in was in fact visual design?

Erin

That’s correct, visual design.

Jackie

Fantastic. And so how did you introduce the activity to your class?

Erin

So obviously, learning from home presents a lot of challenges in terms of kids, you know, being able to access things and manage their time. It's very much put on them to become very much responsible for their education and the pace at which they do it. So, I did have some students, such as Kaitlyn, who have absolutely thrived during the learning from home period and the work, the quality of the work has honestly been outstanding. It’s absolutely mind blowing what they have created at home. And so, I was a bit at a loss because Kaitlyn, for example, had just absolutely smashed through all of the classwork and done it to such a high standard that I was like, this kid needs a challenge. She needs some kind of extension work. So, I actually came across the competition online and I was like, yeah, this is exactly what she needs to do. This would be fantastic, right up her alley. So yeah, so that's how it was presented to her actually, she was sending the emails and emails asking for extra work, what else can I be doing? I needed to have some kind of end goal and a lot of the way that we deliver our visual design course is very much we treat them as though they are designers. So, providing them with a design brief, you know, there's a lot of emphasis on the design process. So, I was like this is a perfect challenge for Kaitlyn to be able to really legitimately put herself in the shoes of a designer.

Jackie

It's quite a strict brief that we have to put out.

Erin

Correct, yes, that's right. So yes, so I sent Kaitlyn away with all of the information, I said have a quick read through this I think that you can produce something really outstanding and yes, she did. She was she was on board.

Jackie

So it's really been presented as an extension task for Kaitlyn, which is really good. So, in terms of sort of teaching and learning strategies, obviously you've had various different design sort of lessons in place for Kaitlyn to be such an outstanding designer and she's obviously using some kind of computer program as well to create these designs. So, are you able to tell us a little bit about some teaching and learning strategies that you've used to assist or guide Kaitlyn to produce such outstanding works?

Erin

Yeah, so as this is their first year of the visual design course, we really spent the first semester or so, kind of introducing our students to a range of different design techniques. So, looking at digital, looking at creating, you know, three-dimensional kind of models. I suppose it was all about really focusing on the design process and problem solving and research and looking at the elements of art, elements or principles of design. So really the setting a foundation for the rest of the course, foundation knowledge. So yeah, that's what semester one was really dedicated towards. When we move into semester two and into Year 10 as well, a lot of their design tasks are very much self-driven, student driven tasks, which is again, we get really great successful outcomes and design works from that because the kids become so passionate about their projects and they become so driven and motivated and they learn so many skills like time management and following a design brief and you know, adhering to the design brief and evaluating and getting feedback. So it kind of becomes I suppose a real life project, we put them, we treat them as though they are a designer. So I suppose Kaitlyn from those previous tasks, she has an idea of what it is to work to a design brief and adhere to a design brief as well a lot about the design process. So, something that we spend a lot of time that first semester of visual design looking at is the design process and how there is a lot of back and forth. It's never just a quick start to finish line when it comes to the world of design as you're working with a client and there's often lots of middle men so there's lots of back and forth to make sure that both are happy with what is being produced. So that was something that was great that Kailtyn already had experienced previously in class because when we did introduce this optional task to her, the competition task, she was very much on board with engaging in feedback and discussion about her design and things that could be changed and she was able to reflect on aspects that maybe she was unsure about. So, I almost kind of acted as though I was almost like the middleman, because she couldn't get direct feedback from the clients, so to speak. So, I was I suppose like the spokesperson.

Jackie

You're like our agent.

Erin

Yes, that's right, you're welcome. Yeah, so that was really good. So, initially I sent her away with the design brief and I said have a look over it and then come back to me. So, then we set up a zoom and we just shared screens and literally went through each aspect of the brief. We kind of went through what our options were in terms of what kind of digital editing software that she could use. And we actually decided to use Canva, because we've got Canva for Education, which is fantastic. And I had actually introduced the previous task for them to get familiar with Canva because it is such a great tool. She also took it upon herself prior to us having our zoom call to actually get some background research into the podcast.

Jackie

Fantastic.

Erin

Yeah. So, she wanted to really know what she was creating this promotional tile for. So that's, you know, that's a real credit to her in terms of her taking initiative and really wanting to do a good job. She wanted to really reflect what the podcast was about. And then as I said, it was a lot of back and forth seeking feedback until we both got to a point where we're like, yeah, this is the one.

Jackie

Some of the things that you've been talking about today I think is really fantastic sort of backward mapping from the Body of Work for the Visual Arts Year 12 exam.

Erin

Yeah.

Jackie

Because they're having to be self-directed, coming up with concepts, checking in with the teacher, getting feedback, acting on that feedback. So, I think you've got some really beautiful strategies in place and obviously Kaitlyn has produced the winning design, an outstanding design. It's going to be used on our podcasts all of this term, which has been really fantastic. So, thank you for sharing some of those strategies with us today and some of the way that you set up your visual design course, because I'm sure it will be helpful for our other teachers to understand that, particularly, I guess, if they're not coming from a visual design background as well. So, my last question today, this initiative is set up as a grant system for schools, so the winning work does get a $2,000 grant to the school to be spent on a creative arts program or initiative. So, I'm just wondering, what plans, if any, do you have for the $2,000 grant already or what will this mean for your creative arts faculty at Winmalee High School?

Erin

We came to the conclusion that we felt that it needed to be put back into the visual design program because that’s the course of Kaitlyn studies. So, we've been toying with the idea of investing in some Apple pencils and getting access to Procreate on the iPads that we have at school. Something that we've noticed that has gained popularity in the last year is the amount of students that are becoming really enthusiastic and interested in using Procreate and working digitally. Even in my Year 12 course this year, I had a student who worked exclusively in Procreate. So it's definitely something that's gaining popularity with students and the stuff that they come up with blows my mind as do a lot of, you know, the things that our students come up with. So yeah, we really just want to kind of tap into their interests and what they enjoy doing and also just adding an extra opportunity to work in the realm of design where so much is done digitally and using online software.

Jackie

I love that and Procreate is a bit of an industry standard to that is fantastic and I'm really excited to see once you do have your Procreate and the Apple pens, what may come out of that. Thank you so much for engaging with our Creative Casting Call Erin, it was great to get Kaitlyn's design and I'm glad that we've been able to have this chat today and hear what is going to become of that in the future for Winmalee High School, so thank you.

Erin

Thank you so much.

Jackie

Okay, and now I'm joined by Aimee Rossler from Coonabarabran High School and Aimee’s student Alexander McWhirter from year 10 composed the winning music composition entry. So, thanks so much for joining us today, Aimee, can you start off by giving us a little bit of an idea of your school, Coonabarabran High school, your school context and how creative arts fits within your school community at Coonabarabran.

Aimee Rossler

So we're the only high school in Coonabarabran. We've got about 350 students, we have to feeder primary schools, one public one catholic. So, in terms of creative arts we have music and visual arts in Stage 4. When they get to elective stages, we've got art, music, drama and then Stage Six, music, visual art, photography. We run quite a few musical things. So, we have a musical every second year, we have a jazz band. I suppose we are unique issue in Coonabarabran, probably not so unique for a small town, is that we don't have instrumental teachers at all,

Jackie

Wow.

Aimee

So we have a vast network of people helping us out. One of them is the absolutely amazing Mark Bolton who does Skype lessons with our students three times a week. So, we've got 11 students, they literally get a 10-minute lesson during a lunch, but that's what keeps them going. And we have quite a few other students who have online lessons, either Skype or Zoom or whatever with various other tutors because it's, it's just too much for the classroom teachers to handle as well.

Jackie

Absolutely.

Aimee

So we're very, very blessed to have this huge network of teachers who Zoom in or video in and work with our kids and we've been lucky to have kids do AMEB repertoire exams and our jazz band also entered the AMEB online orchestra earlier this year. So we've got quite a few things happening in creative arts.

Jackie

That sounds fantastic and what a lovely way to sort of get around that problem of there being no instrumental teachers in town. Being able to facilitate through that through school as well, but not all being the work on the teacher to do that those lessons.

Aimee

So being able to facilitate that, we just simply don't have the expertise to get these kids to advanced level and technology is just absolutely amazing and wonderful resource to us.

Jackie

So speaking of that, last term was obviously online learning for most of the state and for our Creative Casting Call, you actually had nine students enter this competition or submit a composition for the competition, which we just thought was fantastic, and so many of them, were really, really good. Two of them were shortlisted and then Alexander's was chosen. Can you talk about how you introduced this composition or this activity to your class?

Aimee

So, I actually gave it to them as an extension tasks. So, I've got two Year 9-10 classes and 28 kids in total and there are a few of them who are always asking for more. So I gave it to everybody as an extension, as an optional extension task. And we had just a very brief classroom discussion about what is the podcast, what's the function of the music? What kind of mood do we want for the theme Where to from here? What images does that conjure up, how are we going to represent that in music? And then lockdown struck. So, from there onwards it became a bit of a collaboration process I suppose between myself and the students. So, we went fully online, I've uploaded everything onto their Google Classroom and the kids started sending me some ideas and I worked with him one on one by emails and a lot of them did their compositions on Soundtrap. So they invited me into the composition so I could listen to it. What was particularly lovely about Alexander who did throughout the winning entry is that he actually had several versions different speeds and he played it to his family members and got their input and they had a bit of a voting system at home what they thought was best. And he originally sent me a slower version then he said to me, do you think it should be sped up a bit. Now, I wasn't quite convinced. But then when I heard the difference, I fully agreed, so he really steered that process, as did the other eight students given lockdown, they completely steered the whole process and maintained contact with me and got it done fantastic.

Jackie

I love that he was bouncing ideas of his family members too and actually it's lucky, I guess he did speed that up because it was actually the tempo of his composition that sort of gave him that little bit of a winning edge. There was another one in the short list that was really close and they were very similar actually in their compositions, but Alexander's was just that little bit faster than the other one. And obviously because in this podcast we're wanting to engage our teachers and sort of switch them onto learning and not so much relax them, it was just that up-tempo composition that just gave him that little winning edge over the other one in the short list that was sort of very close. So, you mentioned that the students use Soundtrap and I’ve used Soundtrap before as well when I was teaching and it's got that fantastic collaboration took where you’re able to come in and listen to the students’ work, which is really good. What sort of teaching and learning strategies have you used to assist or guide the students with using a DAW like Soundtrap to be creating their compositions?

Aimee

I think there’s two parts to the answer to that question. First, it was the individual collaboration or the individual feedback was really important. The second part is right from the word go in year seven, we do a lot of composition. So, we initially start with writing a little song using the pentatonic scale. I usually put them on MuseScore straight away just to start notating and getting used to that and then we move between MuseScore, GarageBand and Soundtrap. So, from this year, from year 7 onwards, they each have a Soundtrap license or Soundtrap seat rather. And we very regularly in class have a quick little composition exercise. We introduce the concept, if it's riff or whatever, quickly hop onto one of those and experiment and play around with things. In Year Eight. We also do a lot of melodic composition, but then using chords and then Year 9-10, this year we did units of work on popular music and Australian music. And again, just every now and again, as soon as we discuss a concept or a feature of a pop song or something, pop onto one of those tools and experiment and compose with it. So, we do a lot of composition exercises in class and obviously assessment tasks as well.

Jackie

I love how you're talking about them being sort of short, sharp tasks and they're doing them all the time. It sounds like it's really beautifully just embedded into your usual classroom activities rather than them having these long tasks, which I think sometimes with composition you sort of do sometimes give that long task and they get bogged down in it or might not know where to go. But if they're doing it all the time, I really love that idea.

Aimee

And the kids are incredibly creative. I absolutely love doing composition with them because the vast differences in compositions. It's beautiful and then also to see how it reflects their personalities is what I find really, really awesome.

Jackie

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of the nine compositions for the competition and they were all fantastic in their own right. Just Alexander's suited the podcast the most. But there were some really cool ones that I thought, oh that has such a Stranger Things type feel or something like that, reflecting their personality or obviously what they're listening to really came through. My final question today, there was a $2,000 grant up for grabs for the school of the winning entry. So that's obviously coming your way and we're just wondering what, if any, plans you have for that $2,000 grant or what will that mean for your creative arts faculty at Coonabarabran High School?

Aimee

We've got two ideas as to how to spend it. We very frequently host music concerts and I've got an amazing colleague who does all sound stuff for us. So, one area where we need to make a purchase is in terms of condenser microphones, especially when we have acoustic guitars, performing and things like that. So that's one thing we really need. We also do like when you record exams for AMEB purposes, these kind of tools are extremely important. And then the other idea is also to invest in more sophisticated digital audio workstation, something like Cubase or something like that. We don't have that set up for the students yet. And now that they are becoming more proficient and comfortable with Soundtrap and GarageBand and all those things I think it would be lovely to have, as I said, the more sophisticated DAW for them to move on to.

Jackie

It's like the next step up, isn't it?

Aimee

Yeah, absolutely.

Jackie

And I guess that sort of industry standard as well.

Aimee

Yes.

Jackie

Yeah. Fantastic. I'll be really interested to hear their compositions once they start to move to a more sophisticated DAW if that's the way that you go. But I really hope to hear some more from Coonabarabran High School in the future because it sounds like you're doing wonderful things there. So, thank you very much for engaging with our Creative Casting Call. Your students submitted some fantastic entries and we really loved hearing them all and all the very best for spending the $2,000 and continuing on with your fantastic music program there.

Aimee

Thank you so much and thank you for making it the opportunity available to us.

Jackie

You're most welcome. Thanks to Erin and Aimee. So now that you've heard about it and how the teachers implemented this fantastic initiative into their classrooms, I'm really excited to say that we are repeating this competition again this term. So, if you're a New South Wales Department of Education teacher head on over to our Creative Arts Statewide Staffroom, there's a link in the show notes, for a full brief of this term’s competition. We look forward to hearing all of the entries this term and granting two more schools our $2000 grant early next term to be able to put towards their creative arts programs and initiatives.

Please note that the products discussed in this podcast are suggestions only and implies no endorsement by the New South Wales Department of Education of any software, product or organization.

This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Get involved in the conversation by joining our statewide staff room through the link in the show notes or email our Creative Arts Curriculum Advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au. The music for this podcast was composed by Alexander McWhirter of Coonabarabran High School and the promotional tile designed by Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School.

[end of transcript]

Listen to an insightful discussion with the Lindfield Learning Village team, unpacking the assessment of mastery in the creative arts and building a culture of collaboration through trans disciplinary learning.

Jackie King

The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played. For they have performed age old ceremonies of storytelling, music, dance and renewal and along with all Aboriginal people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us also acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our Elders past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.

Welcome to the Creative Cast. The official podcast of the New South Wales Department of Education Creative Arts Curriculum Team. My name is Jackie King and I'm a Creative Arts Project Advisor with the Department of Education. Today's topic of discussion is where to from here, inspiring students across the creative arts and I'm lucky today to be joined by two of the instructional leaders from Linfield Learning Village to discuss mastery and trans disciplinary learning featuring the creative arts. Please welcome Amy Murphy and Shae Dunbar from Linfield Learning Village. Hi Amy and Shae. Thanks for joining us today.

Amy Murphy

Hello, thank you for having us.

Shae Dunbar

Thanks for having us.

Jackie

Could we start off by just introducing yourselves a little bit to our listeners and tell us a little bit about your teaching background and your current role. So Amy, I might get you to go first.

Amy

Yeah sure thank you. So, this is my 12th year of teaching in the Department of Education and my subject areas are English and Drama. Prior to being at Linfield, I was at James Ruse Agricultural High School in a variety of roles but I finished their as Head Teacher CAPA which was a really beautiful and enriching experience. But my current role at Linfield is 0.5 Head Teachers, Secondary Studies and 0.5 DP Instructional Leader. And it means that I get to lead and facilitate and collaborate really heavily with teachers and on whole school projects and priorities to make sure everyone feels really good in their roles but to also empower teachers to move from best practice to next practice.

Jackie

Oh I love that, I love that you're making sure everyone's okay in their roles. I think that's so important in teaching and best practice to next practice. I think that sounds really cool as well.

Amy

Yeah, it's very exciting.

Jackie

Shae, can I ask you the same question, just a little bit about your teaching background and your current role.

Shae

Sure. So, I've been with the Department for close to 12 years as well and during that time I've worked at three schools. I started off my career actually at Rooty Hill High School in the history faculty. My background in teaching is predominantly business studies, commerce, geography and history and then I started as a Head Teacher of HSIE at Plumpton High school and from there have come over to Linfield Learning Village and was one of the foundational members of the 2019 team which has been an absolutely fantastic learning experience. I also just stepped out briefly to work with the Department in critical and creative thinking on a project there. So, I've been really lucky across the schools to have different experiences, but also working with whole school pedagogical frameworks, particularly around critical and creative thinking.

Jackie

Yeah, fantastic. So, onto what we're here to talk about today and that's creative arts and how that fits within what you do at Linfield Learning Village. So, before we get onto that, can we talk a little bit and get a bit of background on Linfield Learning Village and what you do there? So, who would like to take the reins on that one?

Amy

I can for a bit if you want. So, Lindfield is in its third year. So, we opened as a brand-new school in 2019 and all teachers that were going to work at Linfield had really been selected at the end of 2018. So, some of us had two weeks together to reimagine what education might look like, knowing that we would have to do that process again with kids. So, our principal Stephanie McConnell, is very much about giving kids voice and choice and agency in their learning and to ensure that they really are empowered in their space because when they are empowered, they have buy-in and then we get beautiful levels of engagement and motivation and self-determination in our learning environments in space. So, third year in, it's been a massive journey to build a school from scratch. We're obviously a Department of Education school that operates from K to 12 and this year is our first year 12 cohort. So, they've had a tricky year to engage in their HSC, but they're so resilient and Shae and I really think that the kids who graduate this year, if we did a longitudinal study, will come out on the other end with so much grit and inspiration and lessons for the world. So, we hold tightly to the fact that they will be courageous and brave human beings. We are building the new education model for the Department of Education and that's really exciting and you know, we're heavily grounded in research and that allows us to go really deep into practice, but make sure we pick the best bits of practice that suit our learners and our context. It's very much an individual experience at Linfield for the students. We meet them where they're at and then try and push them beyond their wildest capacities or dreams and hopefully we'll be at capacity probably over the next 2-3 years and capacity for us is about 2100. We’ll next year will be about 750. So that has really allowed teachers to build and research and refine practice, you know, as well as engaging really personally with all of our kids in the space and seeing what education means to them. We're very lucky to be located in the old U. T. S. Ku-ring-gai campus, which means that our facilities are just absolutely beautiful. We're surrounded by a national park. We've got three amazing theatres to work within as well, which is lovely in the creative arts space, 12 breakout rooms for music in terms of practice. So yeah, we're very lucky, we know that that resource is unbelievable and the spaces themselves are truly inspiring. But you know, another complexity is how do we make the best of this space from a learning perspective, how does pedagogy and space really intersect to allow our students to have agency but then also engage in explicit teaching and master classes and things like that. So, it's been a really beautiful journey to get to this, 3 years in. So, as we continue to grow, we continue to bring more staff into the space and that helped shift and shape our values and our culture.

Jackie

Sounds amazing. Did you have anything to add to that Shae?

Shae

Yes, sure. We have worked really hard over the last three years to very much incorporate into the everyday learning opportunities of our students, opportunities for them to really develop their learning characteristics, really providing them with the capacity to be able to work collaboratively, creatively and build their repertoire of being able to learn who they are as learners as well, and how that's actually contributed to their overall learning journey at school, but also beyond school as well, and really preparing them for that. So that's a key feature of the school which is really exciting to have seen, develop and just how that really links in with even students own intrinsic motivation to learn about themselves as learners.

Jackie

Through our Statewide Staff room meetings this term, we've started to explore with you what mastery in the creative arts looks like, and obviously giving the students that agency like you're talking about and finding themselves as learners I think fits really nicely into what you've shared with us in regards to mastery at Linfield Learning Village. So, Shae could you tell us a little bit about the Lindfield Learning Village model for assessing mastery?

Shae

Yeah, absolutely. So, we have integrated into our quest, we call them quest but it's really trans disciplinary learning, opportunities for students to be assessed at different points of their learning journey and we actually help them to be assessment capable learners whereby we integrate self-reflection peer feedback, and that opportunity too for them to get teacher feedback as well. So, with feedback comes that opportunity to really build on their products that they're creating and to embed that feedback to extend upon their own capabilities so that they can actually reach mastery and the way that we have set it up is also through really articulating, through the use of our syllabus outcomes, ‘I can’ statements which are actually mapped back to a five point scale which would be commonly known as the A-E scale, but we've actually reframed that to be the novice to master scale. So we're already from the very beginning have introduced the concept of mastery to students through the use of that scale and you know, we have within that descriptions of what mastery is so that it's really explicit with the students as to what we would be looking for in terms of them actually reaching mastery capacity or capability I should say.

Jackie

The thing I love most about those ‘I can’ statements is we get so many questions about being able to write assessment rubrics etcetera in language that's accessible to students and just turning around the syllabus outcomes to those ‘I can’ statements I think is a really easy and genuine way to write an assessment rubric that is of language that's accessible to the students. Amy, did you want to break down the ‘I can’ statements at all?

Amy

Yeah, sure. So as Shae referred to, we've got a master to a novice learning continuum and so for every outcome across every K. L. A from K to 10. All teachers have broken down their ‘I can’ statements into the five-point scale. So, within each one we break down the outcome and with the arts, because our syllabuses still haven't been rewritten, we're about to launch into that process really soon, we've still got the beautiful learn to and learn about and there's actually, when you go back through those, is such depth and complexity that really helped to unpack what that outcome is wanting or driving our learners to do or shifting our teaching practice. So, we delved into the depths of those and then obviously match them from the master novice continuum, focusing on what kids can do at each level and then what kids need to do in order to improve and move their learning forward in each of those areas as well. So that element, that's another level and layer of feedback that sits within Lindfield Learning Village is that it's really clear on those next steps in order to really move things forward. At Lindfield with mastery and assessment, we've really always had the view that kids can create their own assessments in a negotiation and co construction with the teacher and we're really hoping to hone in on that next year where we have a Must Should Could scaffold. And the good aspect of that scaffold is really about student teacher negotiation to pull all of that learning together, but they get to create their final product as long as we can really map it to outcomes and these ‘I can’ statements and the kids are certainly becoming more vocal in understanding their ‘I can’ statements and using the language really beautifully to drive their learning forward. So yeah, I cans have been unreal and they also serve a different benefit which is our reporting system. So, Octopus draws all of the data out of our learning management system which is Canvas where I can statements are housed. And Octopus provides online 24 7 continuous reporting to our parents which are mapped to the ‘I can’ statements. So it means no reporting for us because it's automatically done.

Shae

As Amy mentioned before, in terms of the ‘I can’ statements being really descriptive around moving students forward, embedded in that too is ‘I need to’. So we have little mini ‘I need to’ statements within that. So, in terms of the automated aspects of the reporting system, it's still really meaningful for students to be able to see where they’re at, talk with their parents about how they're going and we have student led conferences too where they unpack how they're going with their parents and with their learning guide. But the ‘I need to’ aspect is really important in being able to help students be able to see a pathway to mastery as well and move forward.

Jackie

Yeah, I love that. So, let's get on to creative Arts. What does secondary Creative Arts look like at Linfield Learning Village, Amy.

Amy

Yeah, great question. It's good fun. It's exciting there. We have wonderful teachers who are experts in their field and you certainly operate at a professional level outside of the school, in the arts community. And so that allows us to draw on so much rich, authentic experience to make sure that we are also providing that to our students. It's a really open environment at Linfield generally. So, any teacher would be more than welcome to walk into any class to either participate or to observe, to learn or to add to the learning that is happening in that space. But the arts in particular are always inviting people in and I guess that's just part of who the arts are. Forever seeking feedback because we know perfection is a myth. Seeking feedback to drive deeper, richer work is really powerful, but it's an open invitation for everybody to come in. And only the other day, actually Friday, I've been invited into the year 12 Visual Arts progress checkpoint for their Body of Work. And the first round of assessment from Music On. Music One made us cry in the audience to see how far these kids had come and the work that their teacher had really been able to drive with them and collaborate and teach them the ins and outs of really beautiful, strong performance was so evident and so clear. And then the panel that we were part of for the visual arts body of work checkpoint was rich but it was only enriched by the kids around us in that class, who also very much added to the questioning and the idea generation and process that was happening for kids’ body of work. So, it's a very united front at Linfield across all subjects, but particularly the arts and our major works. And heading into 2022, we have a major work plan where all of the subjects completing major works come together once a term to share where they're at.

So, we've got one coming up in week 11 where kids present a body of work or whatever they've done, draft iterations, feedbacks, confusions, questions, complexity, and the whole school will walk through that gallery space. The kids who are driving their major works can ask questions for specific feedback if they want. But it's about certainly, you know, the village raising the child as well. We know that we really need to lean on one another to get rich nuance in our creative arts work in year 12 and year 11. And obviously before that the arts sit within trans disciplinary units to we solve problems, complex social problems for the world. We hope through the arts, we know the arts is such a driver in creating solutions to what might be a better world. And so obviously too, within our creative art spaces in our individual classrooms in Stage 5, in elective, we sit within a larger pedagogical framework and that pedagogical framework at Lindfield is about best practice shifting to next practice. So, there is certainly a real restlessness in our teachers to keep making learning better, looking at new research to really drive what works and what doesn't and getting the feedback loop happening with our kids so we know that we're doing things that they really want to tap into in order to start shifting perspectives within the world. But at a base level, it's very noisy, it's very fun, it's very exciting. Teachers are very passionate and the kids are, they just produce some really beautiful things and because we're in a design-based thinking philosophy and process, there's so much drafting, so much feedback, so many iterations and that really allows for deep work and skilled practice within the arts too.

Jackie

You mentioned trans disciplinary learning. So, Shae, can I ask you what is trans disciplinary learning? How does it work? And how does the creative arts fit into that?

Shae

Great question. With trans disciplinary learning, it really is about that authentic opportunity to explore real world issues and problems and as Amy said before, those complex social issues and actually providing our students with space and the space to be able to play around with different solutions to these what we call wicked problems. So, a wicked problem doesn't have an easy answer. And that is actually where you get the strength of that trans disciplinary approach because you are using a range of disciplines to really unpack the wicked problem and play with different possibilities in being able to solve this problem that has been posed. It is highly conceptually driven. So, we have arranged curriculum in terms of within a quest, which is what we name our trans disciplinary units of work, within a quest, we have an overarching concept or big idea and that really funnels down into a wicked problem and then it's through the use of the different disciplines and the depth that we explore in those different disciplines to be able to then solve this problem. And students of course come up with different ways to be able to solve this problem and really, it's about the process of them testing and trialling and evaluating their possible solutions and then also communicating those solutions with an authentic audience. So really, it is about preparing students to love learning and also to prepare them for life beyond school as they build those really fundamental skills that you do need in the workplace, but also beyond the workplace in your own personal relationships in your own way that you choose to live your life. You know, it's really drawing on those skills that they develop over time and in terms of like how does it work and relating it back to the creative arts, as I mentioned before, you know, I'm from a HSIE background, but I've had the great privilege of being able to work with creative arts teachers and I've learned so much from them and just how the creative arts is really so integral to how we do go about solving a lot of these problems or issues that come up and especially with students and their interests, being able to add all those layers and depth that the creative arts offer. From a HSIE perspective and from other disciplinary perspectives, it's just added to my own kind of practice as well. So, there's a lot of drama pedagogy that I wouldn't have even known existed unless I had actually had the opportunity to co teach with drama teachers for instance. So, it's been great to see how the different disciplines work together to really provide a basis to solve problems.

Jackie

So at the start of a wicked problem, do the children get to choose which subjects they're going to focus on? Or is that something that you as the teaching staff decide before going into the project that we're going to focus on music, HSIE, and another subject for this project. How does that work?

Amy

That's a great question. And your solution to that, Jackie is like five years in the future. So that's in our plan that kids will be able to draw from different areas to solve that problem. But at the moment where we're at in regards to trans disciplinary learning is we do a design-based thinking sprint based on what are all of the necessary ingredients that we really need to hit in our syllabus areas and to make sure that we are covering everything and that we are NESA compliant? And then it's from those big concepts that we pulled different subjects in that have really authentic links in order to drive that particular learning and that unit of work and that wicked problem. But in saying that the wicked problem is something that we've only introduced last week. So, we were sitting with driving questions and complex social issues and then as we delve deeper into the research, of the current research about trans disciplinary learning, the idea of wicked problems kept coming up. So that is our new driver for learning is create the wicked problem first, we were driving question, and then the subjects come in almost like magnets come in to sit within those wicked problems. So, it's a really exciting area to drive forward but kids will have agency in I guess the final products that they decided to create and develop to find a solution to the wicked problem that is on offer in term one next term.

Jackie

And Shae, you sort of touched on the outcome for teachers in being able to learn about the other subjects and particularly our precious drama pedagogy which I think is almost becoming the basis of 21st century learning. So, can I get you both and I'll ask individually to sort of touch on what the outcome for teachers is. Is this more work for teachers? Is that less work for teachers? How do the teachers work together? And then what have you seen in your students? What is the outcome for the students? Amy I might get you to go first this time.

Amy

You know, it's a really good question because there's a lot of fear, I think, that sits with losing your syllabus or losing your subject, particularly in the creative and performing arts because drama for instance, it's as an elective in most schools, it might not be taught in year 7 and 8. So how do you ensure that you still build the beautiful rich practices of drama to make sure kids have an area or a space they are deeply passionate about or simply interested in it. So, for us at Linfield, we've been really lucky because we've established from the get go what collaboration is and how we collaborate and also what collaboration isn't. So, we have our own code of collaboration that we've all decided upon, but that's something up for review next year as we bring more teachers into the space and that I guess allows teachers an emotionally intelligent response to working across disciplines and subjects. And that's key in order to drive in this sort of learning forward, we don't necessarily all have to agree and it's best that we don't because there's a richness in disagreements. As long as we evaluate those, what those disagreements are to get the genius of the room through that collaboration. But it has actually becomes less work once you've set up your initial scope and sequence across all of the faculties in Stage 4 and Stage 5 as well. But that we did through design based thinking it'd be awesome if you don't have a design-based thinking expert in your school to get one in to be able to really start that process. Because external facilitators are also really important, in joining our connections and noticing what is going on in the room as well between subjects and ideas and who might have more voice. Some subjects are more prescriptive than others.

So how do we best make that all work together so that everybody feels really good going into their teaching. We have a really solid process for the TDU from creation to being within the term to then the evaluation. But that has taken us three years to really get there and when you divide and conquer your roles as opposed to just your normal classroom teacher role that looks after 30 kids only that feeds into the main unit, you're doing all of your own data analysis, you're doing all of your computer upload, you're doing all of your marking, all of your feedback. A lot of it's really isolated. So it now brings the team together and you actually in the end have less work. The time that goes into it though in terms of co creating really great learning is probably a little bit more because we want a richness and we want the learning to be really rigorous and robust but that's also the fun part because that's the creative part that you love about being a teacher. But all of the administrative stuff has really, really been lowered in how we've managed to divvy up the roles for who's in charge of what and it also has reduced our cognitive load. So, within a TDU at the moment I'm in a democracy TDU with HSIE and English. And drama has come into that because they're exploring how we might improve declining rates in democracy and adolescents across the world and they're using chorus and as their medium in order to communicate that to an authentic audience. But in being in that, at the moment I'm really in logistics and then I dip in and out of designing student learning. Shae has been in assessment land embedding, making sure we've got embedded literacy and numeracy practices within that. Which means that I don't have to think about that because she is doing it. I have to think about logistics and making sure everyone's on task and meeting their deadlines and you know organising our planning meetings, but that actually reduces my load, then Shae up skills us in how we embed literacy and numeracy in this unit so that it's meaningful and authentic and will feed back to us on data that's coming through with our checkpoints for assessment as well. So, and then there's other people who update the learning management system on Canvas. So, you're not doing everything that you ordinarily do as a siloed subject teacher. And there is such richness in that for teacher wellbeing.

Jackie

Yeah, it would be. And Shae, can you answer the second part of the question on the outcome for students.

Shae

Yeah, absolutely. And I think actually all the learning that you get from working collaboratively with your colleagues is such a massive benefit to students and it actually enhances their outcomes. Because when you are working in a trans disciplinary fashion, I think sometimes there can be a little bit of a misconception that you don't get to the greater depths of your own subject discipline, but in fact you really do, especially if you design it in that way where you can. We refer to it as the T structure. So, we might have like the breath of the concept and then the depth of the discipline. So being the subject expert, you know, you are drawing on your own understanding and deep understanding of your syllabus and then you're sharing that with your colleagues and then they actually have that opportunity then to speak with students when they might be, you know, in English or in science and because teachers are aware of different subject disciplines and their syllabus is because you've really discussed it and unpacked it together, students can actually see that shape conversations in different classes, if that makes sense. So, I think students actually really get the benefit of seeing how the disciplines do come together to complement one another with different skills as well and just alluding back to or referring back to the checkpoints. We're very careful in making sure that the syllabus outcomes are embedded within purposeful checkpoints that students do receive feedback on. So, in terms of their own skill development in particular subjects, students are always getting that feedback in relation to their checkpoints, which then contributes to towards their final product, which really blends everything together. But, you know, they still can see the relevance of what they're learning within different subject disciplines and then brought together really in the final product. The final product as well, you know, obviously a really important part of the process, but we actually value the process as much as the product and you know, having students see that. We've even really discussed in the next iteration of our trans disciplinary units, we're actually not going to mark the final product because really that's their opportunity to communicate their learning and because of the authentic nature of the audiences that we're bringing in for those final products to be, I guess, shared with, there's not the onus on getting a mark for it, it's not about the mark it’s about the learning, but in saying that too with our checkpoints in the way that we have designed the formative assessment aspects, students are still definitely getting the feedback based on their syllabus outcomes that they're achieving.

Jackie

Yeah, I love that, it's the process that's important, that's where the learning happens. Love it. My final question today links back to our theme for our podcast, Where to from here. So, for our listeners, thinking about what you've said in terms of mastery and the ‘I can’ statements, ‘I need to’ statements or trans disciplinary learning, in thinking about where to from here, how do you suggest a teacher or a faculty approach exploring mastery and or trans disciplinary learning, I think they kind of go hand in hand, but mastery and trans disciplinary learning at their school?

Amy

This is a great question, it's such a big question and it's a tough one. I would actually start with ‘I can’ statements. It gets you to understand your syllabus at such a deep level. And everybody who wrote ‘I can’ statements in 2019 were certainly experts in their syllabus and their area, but wow, their knowledge increased exponentially after they really delved into the syllabus. So, I would start there even with one outcome and I if you really wanted to explore it with your kids, you might even be able to co construct it together on the master the novice or the A-E common grade scale as well, but I would start small. So, even if you want to start in your own classroom, you can start by the ‘I can’ statement work, you can start by co constructing an assessment task with your kids as well, so that they can identify to you what they see mastery is for a particular performance task or rehearsal even. If we're looking at making in drama, what does a solid rehearsal really look like? How do we know that we've nailed this? So, if you have that common knowledge and dialogue, everyone can hold one another accountable and really work towards a common goal on achieving mastery in making as well. And then if you really want to explore the trans disciplinary aspect, inherently creative and performing arts are trans disciplinary, you know, it's really hard to teach drama without delving into history and exploring context and values as to why a play might have been written or to why a theatrical movement really got off the ground and that we know because art doesn't exist in a vacuum. It exists very much in the world that draws on real things in the past and now and moving into the future with art making practice or whatever art subjects that you are in. So you can start there by trying to employ the wicked problem that you want to solve in your music classroom and then consider a Must Should Could scaffold for your assessments. Consider ‘I can’ statements, consider kids driving that learning, being brave enough to see where they really want to go within a framework. Constraint is really important because an open-ended canvas can sometimes really paralyse kids, so constraints make them a whole lot more creative too. And then also I would say, you know, look at exploring and assessing characteristics or dispositions. So, what do you really value in your classroom? Our syllabuses are really important and they certainly embed the characteristics, but to be really explicit with how do I focus, how can I create, how can I be resilient and how can we tie all of those key skills that we know our kids need now and when they leave our schools, how can we tie that into their learning and how can they map that and track their growth and how can you and them assess that too. So, I would suggest go for it, but start small if you need to.

Jackie

Fantastic. And Shae do you have any last words of advice for our teachers?

Shae

I think that was just so eloquently put by Amy and I think absolutely that idea of starting small, you know, bite sized pieces but really being mindful in explicitly sharing with students what mastery looks, feels and sounds like in your classroom and sharing what mastery is and why it's important and really also taking that wider perspective around what skills, knowledge and dispositions would be needed to demonstrate mastery in this unit of work or concept or project that you might be sharing with the students and them co constructing. That is really powerful because then they actually know what is expected of them in terms of mastery.

Jackie

Amy and Shae, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to chat with us about mastery and trans disciplinary learning and what the creative arts looks like at Linfield Learning Village. Every time I get to speak to you, I feel a little bit more excited. I really love the idea of ‘I can’ statements and the ‘I need to’, I think when I was teaching that would have made my life so much easier in terms of writing those rubrics and having the children understand what it is that we were wanting to get out of an assessment task and how they can move forward and yet the trans disciplinary learning I really love as well. So, thank you again for sharing your journey again. Thank you for your time.

Shae

Thank you.

Amy

Thank you, lovely chatting to you.

Jackie

I'm sure our listeners have been able to get a lot out of that.

This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Get involved in the conversation by joining our Statewide Staff room through the link in the show notes or email our Creative Arts Curriculum Advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au . The music for this podcast was composed by Alexander McWhirter of Coonabarabran high school and the promotional tile designed by Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School.

[end of transcript]

Dance

Listen to how our guest structures Stage 5 assessment to set students up for success in writing about dance, unpacking dance works and crafting essay questions.

Jackie King

The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played for they have performed age old ceremonies of storytelling, music, dance and renewal and along with all Aboriginal people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us also acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elders, past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.

Welcome to the Creative Cast podcast series, the official podcast of the New South Wales Department of Education Creative Arts Curriculum Team. My name is Jackie King and I'm a Creative Arts Project Advisor for the New South Wales Department of Education. Today's topic of discussion is where to from here, assessment in Dance and I'm really lucky to be joined today by a wonderful dance teacher from the Central Coast area to discuss the way that she structures assessment for student success, particularly in Stage 5 dance. Please welcome Kirsty McRae.

Hi Kirsty, thanks so much for joining us today.

Kirsty McRae

Hi Jackie, thank you very much for having me.

Jackie

I know it's a really busy time at school, so I really appreciate the time that you're giving us today to give our teachers a little bit of an insight into the way that you structure your assessment in dance. But before we start that, I've got two questions. The first one is could you tell us a little bit about your teaching background and your current teaching context?

Kirsty

So I've been teaching on the Central Coast for quite a long period of time. Now I teach at Kincumber High School, which is a comprehensive high school and we have extracurricular programs in year 7 and 8 for dance and then we have electives running through years 9-12.

Jackie

Fantastic. Now again, before we get stuck into assessment, we've just started a new little segment in our podcasts. So, in preparation for this podcast, I did ask you if you could think of a dance work or a choreographer who is either of interest to you at the moment

or is your go to appreciation work that you sort of study with your students or that you bring into your classroom. So, could you give us a little bit of insight into a dance work or a choreographer and why that is of interest to you.

Kirsty

So probably one of my go to works would be Revelations by Alvin Ailey and the other go to work would be Ochres by Bangarra Dance Theatre. I like both of these works for a number of different reasons. To start with, they both have quite substantial resources that can be accessed when studying the works right from choreographer interviews to explanations about the movement that you're seeing and the purpose behind those as well as how they're being implemented in classrooms. So, I really like that they're accessible and they can be really easily applied in both the Stage 5 and Stage 6 syllabus to meet appreciation and also composition outcomes.

Jackie

Oh, fantastic. Actually, I love that you've just mentioned Ochres because we're currently putting together a resource for writing in dance, and Ochres is one of the works that is referred to, and students have to break that down and use that within that module. So, I've been looking at Ochres a little bit lately because we're using that for that resource, so that's fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

Kirsty

This is a fantastic work in terms of the breakdown of the sections, you can clearly see motif, you can see motif being manipulated and developed. The concept is really clear within each section, it's tied together nicely in a cyclical piece of work. I think it's a really strong work to watch.

Jackie

Fantastic. It really works in well with all of those elements of the Syllabus that you need to focus on in the classroom as well, which is fantastic. The reason why we're talking with you today is at our recent Creative Arts Connect session, you shared a little bit about the way you structure assessment tasks. I think it was for Stage 5 and it seemed to me like the way that you do this really sets students up for success, success in achieving the task by the end of it and also success for moving through to Stage 6 as well. So, can I get you to share with our listeners how you do build your assessment task up? I think it's through the year or is it throughout the stage, I'll let you talk.

Kirsty

So it's a little bit about both. As a school, we identified quite some time ago that our structured essay responses across the school, across the KLAs, all needed greater support. So, we have a whole school approach in terms of our writing and we, as a school, implement the TEEL structure. So, in year 7 to 10 it's the TEEL and once it hits your 11 it then starts to get into the TEEEL space. So, what I did was when I took that approach and I break that down a little bit further, particularly for appreciation, starting in Stage 5. So, what I've done is I've developed an analysis unit of work that actually runs over Year 9 and 10. So, we start studying at work in year nine And we study that same work through to the end of year 10 with the intent being that by the end of year 10 they are able to write a cohesively structured essay response for a question that they are presented with. So, in year nine there are no assessment tasks on the work. We're simply viewing the work, we're gathering our information, working as a class to right movement examples or to find other relevant examples from the work. We look at the context, we look at the background and the choreographer, the socio-cultural setting of the work, what might have then impacted the work or influenced the work? We gather all of that information during year nine. And then towards the end of year nine, the students are presented with the essay question and that essay then runs through to the end of year 10. So, there's no unseen work, no one's seen assessment task.

Jackie

No surprises for the students.

Kirsty

No surprises for the students. So, it's about them developing their writing skills. So, the first task then in year 10 that they get is a very heavily scaffolded task based on that question. And it starts with the first sheet on the scaffold being the breakdown of the question, what are the parts of the question that you're being asked to write about? So, are you being asked to write about space? Are being asked to write about the relationships between the dancers? Are you being asked to write about the concept of the work? What is it that you need to identify? Then the second page starts to break that down and starts to get you to find examples or moments in the work where you could start to reference the aspects of the question and by the end of the scaffolds the students are being asked to find specific examples from the work and start to write those in detail. So, they get to view the work, they get to discuss it amongst themselves. They get to sit and actually form their written responses. And then for that first task they're submitting all of those scaffolds and then they're working on their introduction and the first paragraph and that's it.

Jackie

Just the introduction in the first paragraph is the first task.

Kirsty

So the scaffolds and then introduction in the first paragraph and then they're given feedback on all of that. So, they're given feedback on the examples that they put in the scaffolds and then they're given feedback on their introduction and their first paragraph. They're given then time during class to redevelop those and go into detail a little bit more find those gaps that they're missing. And then by the last task, which is towards the end of the year, they were then asked to finish forming their response and they’re asked to submit their fully composed essay in response to the question that they were given.

Jackie

Fantastic. So, they get the question at the end of the year nine, at the start of year 10 there's an introduction and the first paragraph and then they continue to get activities in class and feedback. And they continue to build on that until by the end of the year ten they submit a final essay. Yeah. Fantastic. Could you give us maybe an example of a work that you've used to be able to do this with your Stage 5 cohort and some of the questions that you might use to break down with them unpack with them?

Kirsty

So over the last few years we've been using the work Revelations. Again, this is a great work for kids to sink their teeth into. There is so much contextual information that's available that supports their understanding of what they're actually seeing. And if you don't want to study the whole work, it's also a work where you can watch in sections, so you could really undertake a strong level of analysis for one section of the work and get students to really delve into that, which is also a benefit of that work. Some of the things that we look at, obviously we start to look at what the work is about. So, looking at Alvin Ailey's interview and then some of that historical information that sits around his concepts for the work. And it's also a work that can still be placed in current day society, there are plenty of societal issues going on at the moment or particularly within the last 18 months that's still set Revelations as being quite a topical and relevant work. So, there is the ability to draw it into today's space in terms of the questions that you pose to the students.

Jackie

Fantastic. And are the questions, are the essay questions, I guess sort of scaled back versions of what they might get in a HSC question or do you sort of make them up? I guess a lot of time would be spent in crafting the question given that they then use that same question for the whole year.

Kirsty

So I think it's really important. You're right, you do need to craft the question. You need to really pay attention to who your students are and what it is they're going to be able to gain from the task because it is a long task, essentially, it's going for a year. So, you're wanting to make it relevant and purposeful, you don't want to make it too easy. You still want to challenge them. But the challenge needs to be able to be achieved on various levels. So, you still need to be able to extend your higher order students and you still need to be able to cap it down a little bit for those students who are on that base level of knowledge and the scaffolding of the first task really allows all the students to gain access if you think very carefully about the question you're asking. But yes, the questions that I formed do have that same kind of feel as a HSC question. So, there's an explain or discuss at the start and then there's that one first part of the syllabus and then they're being asked to do something with it so that they're being asked to not only find the information but apply the information some way.

Jackie

Fantastic. Is this something that you only use for appreciation or is that ability to build it up over the year something that you also apply with composition or performance?

Kirsty

I think it's an approach that I apply across all the components, maybe more in composition and performance more through informal discussion. That what are you doing? Why are you doing that? The how are you doing it? So, it's still that same understanding in the scaffolding in the appreciation task. What do I want them to find out? How do I want them to apply that information and then why is it relevant? And that's getting them to pull out all of those examples throughout the year and getting that feedback on it before they really start to apply. I guess that TEEL model and it's about them then being able to cohesively structure the information that they've gathered and what makes sense. And then learning how to build one paragraph into the next paragraph into the next so that they're working towards a synthesized response.

Jackie

Beautiful and you would constantly be doing that through class tasks as well.

Kirsty

Absolutely.

Jackie

What has been the outcome for structuring your assessments like this for the students at your school?

Kirsty

There has been a greater level of completion of the task where in the past you've just given essay question and the kids, some of the kids would always just throw their hands up and go, I can't do it, so wouldn't submit anything. But all students now will submit their scaffolds and then they will then submit some level of an essay response. So that in itself is success.

Jackie

Absolutely.

Kirsty

And then we can see the development of this then through HSC data and we have seen a steady growth in our appreciation results since implementing this approach.

Jackie

I was going to say, I would guess that your students would then come into Stage 6 so much more confident because they have broken down that question and they've understood how to find examples in the work, how to write about those examples in the work, they've had a go at the structure that you use. Obviously, they've got to add in the next E in Stage 6. Kirsty – And some students, some students do add that extra E in year 10. So, they're your higher order kids who are pushing themselves to that level, but you're right the additional time. So, by only using one work over that extended period, it allows students to really understand what you're trying to achieve. Once you hit year 11, the pace picks up, you’re needing to watch more works, you've got less time, you've got more things to consider. So, for us we've sustained that scaffolding approach into year 11 and 12, nothing really has changed. We might throw in an additional extension question just to push them a little bit further, if we think they require that, but it's not foreign territory for them, even when they come into year 11, it's the same. So, they feel confident already because they already have seen the paperwork, they've seen the approach. It's just a question that's different.

Jackie

Yeah, sure. And I presume it sort of gets a little bit harder as they go along.

Kirsty

Yes.

Jackie

Fantastic. Okay, so in thinking where to from here for our listeners, how do you suggest that they begin planning to use this structure if they were to use this structure for their assessment tasks next year?

Kristy

I think you need to think about what the end result is that you're trying to achieve. Are you trying to get all students to understand what analysis is? Are you trying to improve written responses? Are you trying to improve formative mark or some motif marks? I think you need to know what your end result is and then you need to break your task down from there. You need to know who your cohort of students are, what their needs are as learners, because we need to remember lifelong learners, not necessarily needing the same approach as everybody else. But one of the main outcomes of undertaking this kind of building of tasks is to give students the confidence in what they're doing and that by giving them information, by providing them with the notes and the resources to do what we're asking, we're not writing the work for them, we're just offering them the tools to be more successful in what we're asking them to do. It's one way to write an English essay. It's another right way to write an ancient history essay. It's another way to write a dance essay. So, if you think about what the outcome is, what is it that you're wanting to achieve and then break it down backwards from there.

Jackie

Yeah, fantastic. And in terms of crafting that question, they need to take that time to really think about what they need to get out of their students.

Kirsty

Yes, and for Stage 5, you know, don't go to a HSC question and just throw a HSC question in there, that question is being pitched at kids who have undertaken the senior course. So, for Stage 5 pair it back, you know, we're not looking to fail the kids, we’re looking to enhance their writing skills, we’re looking to enhance their ability to watch a work and find the examples that you're wanting and be able to write about them.

Jackie

Beautiful. Well, I think that's all the questions that I have for today. Thank you so much Kirsty for coming along and sharing your ideas with us. I really do love the fact that it does just set those students up for success. Actually, one thing I am just wondering is with your other components, with the performance and the composition, you said there's no assessment tasks in year nine for appreciation. I presume that they're doing all of the performance and composition throughout.

Kirsty

So when I said there's no assessment tasks in appreciation, it's just on the analysis. So, the essay task builds over more so the whole of year 10 but what we have work to do in stage five is that each task so the very first task that they get in any component is the starting point of the final task. So, no task that they receive is stands completely alone. So what they start in the first task for composition for example in, year nine they'll be asked to present kind of a bit of a snapshot of their movement, their starting points, maybe you know, a handful of counts, you know, it's given specifics but whatever they're given in the first task, the next time we assess it, they're being asked to build on that and show kind of evolution or development of what they did in the first task.

Jackie

Yeah, fantastic.

Kirsty

So it's the same sort of principle applied to composition or performance,

same approach so that it's not saying well one task is done that you now need to forget about the work that you've done there. We’re trying to say to the kids that what you learn in the first task, or what you need to apply in the first task still becomes relevant to what we're doing in the classroom for a different task or a different opportunity, but then it can still be applied in the final task that they're given.

Jackie

I think it’s that old adage, there's no rubbish bin or no throwaway tasks. Every task is building to the next task.

Kirsty

That’s it exactly.

Jackie

Beautiful. I really love that. And I think that is something that our listeners could really use for their planning for 2022. They might like to structure their assessment tasks so that, you know, they build up to a final product over more than one assessment task.

Kirsty

We've found that it's really worked for us. It's given us a different perspective and I think it's also giving kids greater ownership of the work that they're developing.

Jackie

Beautiful. I love that. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Kirsty and all the best for the rest of the year.

Kirsty

Thanks very much Jackie.

Jackie

This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Get involved in the conversation by joining our Statewide Staff room through the link in the show notes or email our Creative Arts Curriculum Advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au. The music for this podcast was composed by Alexandre McWhirter of Coonabarrabran High School and the promotional tile designed by Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School.

[end of transcript]

Drama

Listen to an overview of each of the plays on the current HSC drama prescriptions list.

Jackie King

The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played. For they have performed age old ceremonies of storytelling, music, dance and renewal and, along with all Aboriginal people, hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us also acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elders, past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today, who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.

Ravenna Gregory

Welcome to the Creative Cast podcast series. My name is Ravenna Gregory and I'm one of the Creative Arts Curriculum Officers with the New South Wales Department of Education. In this episode, I speak to Lisa Jinga about the current HSC drama individual project text list. Lisa has 30 years practical experience as a drama teacher. She's currently head of drama, dance and VET entertainment as well as IB theatre and dance at MLC school in Burwood. As Senior Drama Curriculum Officer for the then Board of Studies, she oversaw the writing of the year 7-10 Drama Syllabus and the advice on programming and assessment. Lisa has written the NESA HSC course prescriptions since 2002. Last year, she completed her role as supervisor of marking the drama projects and written. Lisa and I discussed the 10 plays on the 2019-2024 prescriptions list for design and director’s folio. And we started off by chatting about Molière’s Tartuffe.

Lisa Jinga

Moliere of course is a famous French writer and Tartuffe is an incredibly funny play. So, the thing that I love about a Moliere play is you can leave it in its original context or indeed you could move it to a contemporary production if you feel that that is warranted by the concept that or issues that you wish to convey. For example, if you moved it in context, you could do a fantastic costume design by developing a concept about the era that you want to set it in or indeed a fantastic set design because you might see that although it's taking place mostly in Orgon’s House, a guy who is duped by Tartuffe who is a kind of guru character. Well, you might have sliding screens, you might decide that it would interact with lighting and as a director, this would be a fantastic play for you to really imagine how can a classical play come to life in the present. It also has wonderful elements of comedy and so sometimes people might be put off by the fact that it seems like an old play, but it is so relevant today because let's face it, everybody still looks to find meaning in their lives, whether it's through a self-help book, through a modern day guru and Tartuffe presents himself as that guru even though he's a complete fraud, fake charlatan who dupes everybody.

Ravenna

You described Tartuffe as an old play, but you know the themes and ideas in it being very current. One of the really old plays on the list is Sophocles Antigone. Can you tell us a little bit about the context of that play and the characters and setting of the original script?

Lisa

Antigone is one of the great ancient plays. So, the play begins with a war and both brothers are on different sides and Creon, the uncle, is ultimately victorious and makes a decree that the brother who fought on the other side cannot be buried in terms of the customs of the day. Well, Antigone can't accept that. She loves her brother and so she decides to stand up to the king to Creon and actually bury her brother. And so, the play is on a downward spiral into tragedy. You know that she's going to do the noble thing bury her brother. It's a tragedy, she will die, others will die. And of course, Creon is so blind to the truth, just as Oedipus was in that play, that he makes wrong decisions. So, this is a play just like Death and the Maiden that I'll speak about later, which can have a political, anyone who's interested in that kind of political idea and wants to look at how were women treated in a different era. How did they stand up for themselves? What's the idea? Just because it's an ancient play, nothing has changed. People still experience love, hate, the whole gamut of emotions. And so, you might look to see, right, well, how can I stage that play? Do I need an ancient context? Could it be contemporary? You might want to have symbolic costuming to show me, how do the costumes work, either in their original setting or in a modern contemporary world? How could you use lighting to show these people's experiences?

Ravenna

You mentioned Death and the Maiden, which is a play by Ariel Dorfman and maybe one of the ones that I would consider one of the unusual ones for the design list because of the number of characters and settings. I suppose in this, it's a little bit different from some of the others.

Lisa

If you knew how many times I counted the three characters and tried to work out. Were there enough costume changes for a costume design? And there were, however, the reason that I really went for that play, that is for someone who really loves the idea of getting their teeth into a meaty political situation. This play is set in Chile during the Pinochet regime. Well after the regime, which was a terribly repressive time in South America, not just in Chile but across many other countries in South America and the beautiful Paulina was someone who was captured and tortured by the regime who felt that she had opposing ideas to their own. And she was actually tortured to a piece of music, Death and the Maiden. So, this play really is there for aspiring directors who might love to consider how can they get that message about all of us wanting freedom against a political regime and really delving into that process. When I saw the play at the STC many, many years ago, I never forgot its opening moments. I heard the sound of a car approaching, the lights of that car swept across the stage, somebody crunching on gravel and the gravel was on the stage. And I understood then how set and lighting combined to create mood and atmosphere to immerse us straight into the world of the play which was set at a very different time after the regime in Chile.

Ravenna

Yeah, I'm reminded Lisa, that opening description, the time is the present and the place, a country that is probably Chile but could be any country that has given itself a democratic government just after a long period of dictatorship and the freedom of interpretation there for a director's folio in particular, but also for those design projects makes it such a great addition to this list. So from that sort of openness of set and time and place. Can we move to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, which to me is of a very particular time and place?

Lisa

Look, this is a play that needs to be set and to remain in the context in which it was written. In fact all of the plays on the list. If you decide to change the context, that needs to be driven by internal ideas rather than being imposed on the text. And I really think that Death of a Salesman is a play of its time and place and Willy Loman and the tragic story of him trying to be a good father, a good husband. But of course, the more he tries, the more things go wrong, suffering depression. Because in America, imagine going door to door to sell something. It's a bit like these days, cold calling on the phone and that's what his job was. And of course, he's not perfect. Everything goes wrong, and the way Miller tries to show a dreamlike or nightmarish state in some ways that exists for this man. His internal turmoil is shown in his surroundings, which just seemed to be a big city. But imagine that you are the lighting designer and the shadows and the light that illuminate his predicament or cover his shadowy action. So, I think that play, one of the truly great plays of the 20th century, that looks at the denigration of the American dream is something that still lives today. They are still trying to live in American dream, which I think we all acknowledge really is fading.

Ravenna

And I know Miller's estate are very particular about respecting the script as it was written. But I know even though an HSC drama student wouldn't be governed by those same kind of copyrighting rules, it's really interesting to think about the way that constraint actually can help students to be a bit more creative. And you were talking about the idea of the dream like sequences and the playing with past and present as well. There are so many things that could inform a directorial kind of vision and a design vision, I think in this play still. So, let's look at a more modern play then, Tom Wright’s Black Diggers. Nice to see an Australian play on the list. And can you tell us a little bit about the style and form of this one? Because it's a little bit different from the other players on the list.

Lisa

Look, it is different. And I think it's incredibly important to have a contemporary playwright who is looking at a situation that's often forgotten in our historical context and looking at these wonderful men who fought for our nation and came back and were treated so appallingly on their return. This again is not a play to change the context. It's a play to decide how to represent that wonderful past and present of those men's experiences. And to really let us see what it felt like, both at the time and after the experience these days. We know a lot about post-traumatic stress. And of course, it wasn't anything that was even considered then, let alone if you're indigenous. We also had the wonderful David Milroy play Waltzing the Wilarra. And I thought it was incredibly important to have two very different styles of play because in Waltzing the Wilarra, set in Perth in the 1940s against a curfew, Indigenous people were subject to curfew not allowed out after dark, we see these wonderful characters in a club in a vaudeville setting and wonderful musical vaudeville numbers that you can engage with. I remember I had a student a couple of years ago do a wonderful lighting design based on the phases of the moon for this play because your fortunes wax and wane according to the moon. And that's what the Wilarra is. The Wilarra is the moon. And the play begins with the waltz evoking a club. So, I think these two modern plays that look at an Indigenous experience in a very, very different way, were very important. A more comic musical style versus a far more serious style in Black Diggers.

Ravenna

Thank you Lisa for segueing so smoothly into that next one. Lachlan Philpott’s Silent Disco. To me it has the feeling of a much more modern style of play writing than any of the others and possibly accessible to students for that reason.

Lisa

And again, I was lucky to see the play, this time at Griffin many years ago and I loved it when I saw it. But in this play, Tamara, a young teenager at school falls in love with Squid, who is an Indigenous boy. While you say Ravenna, that it's accessible, I agree, however, there are parts about it but are a bit tricky. Like some of the poetic language which is also peppered with different profanities and expletives to give that shock value of this is a real teenage life and hear the voices of those teenage characters versus the adults in the play who, you know, might sound familiar at first. There's a wonderful adult teacher, Miss Petchall. I think it's a very evocative play. And again, using our First Nations people’s experiences to show and provoke our thought regarding where we're going as a nation and how we're treating our young people. Because really in this play, the education that they received doesn't seem to assist them in any way. It doesn't seem to be tailored to them. It's just going through the motions of what a big bureaucracy is demanding except for the passion of that one teacher who actually cares. And it's lovely because Tamara, Squid and the other young people in the play, I think Tamara being the protagonist, we see a young woman, who’s vibrant and really by the end of the play knows a bit more about what she wants and I won't say what that is because it's a lovely, I think, conclusion to the play.

Ravenna

I saw this one too at Griffin and was struck by the beautiful possibilities of using such a tiny space to amplify the feelings of tension and entrapment and that kind of underlying violence in this play. And that's something too that students can think about if they're doing something like the directors' folio or of course that is integrating design.

Lisa

I agree. Because one of the things that I'll never forget was the fact that they used plastic cups that lined a wall and suddenly they lit up and made an opera house. It was phenomenal. I just thought how creative that designer was and that's what we see year after year from our young people who come up with incredible ideas. But this play has a contemporary voice. If you're someone who loves that contemporary feeling, then this is a play you might consider in contrast to something like Death and the Maiden, which is set in a completely different place and time with a different political agenda.

Ravenna

Let's move them to the last Australian play on the list, Lisa, and that's Debra Oswald's Stories in the Dark. And I think a lot of students and teachers will know this play or know Debra Oswald's work. And you were talking about that lovely, the magical transformation of the set at Griffin using something really simple, transformed Debra Oswald's Stories in the Dark. I spoke about Silent Disco being accessible, I guess I really meant appealing. But I think that this one actually is a very accessible play to any student. Lisa – This story is beautiful. It just unfolds quite simply, it's magical and transformative about two young people Tom and Anna in a bombed-out house that might be France or in Europe. But it could be any place in the world which is part of its charm and Anna to comfort Tom, he's a little younger, reads him stories every night to help shelter from the harsh realities of the world that they are facing. And people think, oh, this is just a simple play, but really it's rich in ideas. And we've seen some incredible design work around this play over time. And I think that if you are considering doing a project and you're unsure, then at least even reading this play for enjoyment is a place you could begin. It's easy to understand. It's easy to spark your imagination thinking about the different fairy tales and legends that unfold as the story goes on. It's all about imagining where you might go with it, you might want to present them as puppets, you could do anything, but it's a great place to start. Even if you didn't go on to do the project, you will have read a very enjoyable, accessible work.

Ravenna

There is also great scope for research in this play. The city streets and a derelict house in a war-torn city such as Sarajevo and you know, students who do want to dig into sort of the context in which this was actually commenting on could come up with some wonderfully nuanced designs and director’s visions I think for this

Lisa

or it could easily be used for publicity for the poster promotion where you have to imagine yourself first off as a director, how are you presenting the play? Then you turn to your designer and say I need you to develop all the promotional materials. So, depending on where and when you've set the play and how you see those legends unfolding, everyone can see it in their own way and transport that play to a time and place because unfortunately war is an ever present element, a reality in our world.

Ravenna

The Visit now.

Lisa

Oh my gosh, one of my favourites.

Ravenna

Wonderful. You talk more about why it's your favourite.

Lisa

I just adore Claire Zachanassian. And again, this play was originally set after a war and the position of Switzerland actually was questioned because they were neutral. And so anyway, the play I feel could remain in its context or could be moved to any other town. It could be middle America right now, a bankrupt town anywhere in the world. But this is a story of a woman, it's a revenge tragedy. She's wronged early in her life and her boyfriend deserts her, she's pregnant but she comes back to a town as a billionaire many, many years later and says to the town “I'll give this town” (she doesn't tell them, she bankrupted them, not just then) “I'll give the town a billion dollars and every family here a million, you only have to do one thing and that is put that body in that coffin” and she's referring to her ex-boyfriend who's running to be mayor of the town. So, this is a story with absurd elements. So, anyone who loves that kind of absurd genre or even expressionist genre can look at the play and really tease out what is human breed, would I sacrifice my morals for money? And I think we see plenty of instances of that in the world today. And so, as the play progresses, we see how these towns people one by one, just like dominoes succumb to the lure of the gold that Claire has on offer. So, she is a larger than life character. The play is fun but it has so many moral and ethical questions below the surface that you just can't escape them.

Ravenna

So, you started off by saying that there's a Shakespeare on every list, and this this is the 2019-2024 list, which means it's going to be around for a little bit longer. And the Shakespeare is the Taming of the Shrew.

Lisa

Taming of the Shrew is a wonderful play that seems incredibly politically incorrect in our lifetime and that's because women in Shakespeare's time were often second class citizens. They were the property of their father, their husband and they really didn't have all that many individual rights. And so poor Katerina in this play is actually treated as a second-class citizen and Bianca her sister even worse, she can't marry until her older sister does. And many young women are disturbed by the end of the play because Katerina kind of succumbs. She is forced into this marriage with Petruchio, but actually they fall in love and at the end of the play, rather than some people think she's not seen as an equal, she gives this manifesto about, you know, pleasing your husband. However, I secretly think that she is really just manipulating him in that speech to show that she is going to get what she wants and she knows how to get it. So, you can read something from a feminist perspective, even if it seems at first that it is not espousing the feminist values that we might value today. I would just say that the text itself can't change. We can't change the language of the play ever. But we could change the setting if we wanted. We could think of another time when women were trying to assert themselves or other countries perhaps where they're trying to assert themselves and that's why a Shakespeare is still so vital and vibrant and lives today because we can move the time and place if we want to. Again, it suits all the projects and a director who was doing the folio could have a lot of fun at envisaging how they might present their view of Taming of the Shrew.

Ravenna

So Lisa, I haven't given you any notice of this, but I would love if you could just give us a quick run down from our first to our tenth play. Just giving us maybe the style of the play and one of the key ideas you up for this.

Lisa

Sure, I'm going to give it a go.

Ravenna

Molière’s Tartuffe.

Lisa

Molière’s Tartuffe is a farcical comedy and the key idea is that people can be duped by false profits and so be true to yourself.

Ravenna

Number two Sophocles’ Antigone.

Lisa

Sophocles’ Antigone. The style is obviously an Ancient Greek Tragedy and it's about the individual, a woman versus the state. And that is a very relevant idea in our world today. Ravenna – Number three, Death and the Maiden.

Lisa

Death and the Maiden is a play in the style of heightened realism. It's a highly political play and it's about survival and how surviving in the utmost horrific circumstances and being able to come through the other side as a fully functioning human.

Ravenna

Number four, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

Lisa

Heightened realism with moments of expressionism. Breakdown of the American dream, and how one man fights to achieve his dream in spite of all of the negative pressures from the society in which he lives.

Ravenna

I think we're up to number five, Black Diggers.

Lisa

Black Diggers is in the style of a pastiche, a combination of contemporary elements and contemporary drama. So very modern in its style and its theme is essentially one cantered in racism and looking at how people of different race and culture or creed are treated differently, ignoring the great contribution that they often make to our society.

Ravenna

Number six, I think we're up to Waltzing the Wilarra.

Lisa

Waltzing the Wilarra is in the style of the vaudeville musical with comedy and its key idea is again the treatment of our Indigenous people across time. This group meet curfew in the 1940s. We see them later in their lives, but it's essentially also a love story.

Ravenna

And number seven was Silent Disco.

Lisa

Silent Disco is also heightened realism. The style of heightened realism, a contemporary play using a number of modern elements. The key idea there is that young people have a voice to be heard.

Ravenna

Debra Oswald's Stories in the Dark is number eight. We're nearly there.

Lisa

Stories in the dark seems like realism. It has a shifting timeframe. So, it has this idea of magical realism associated with it. And its key idea is that in a world of turmoil, war, and uncertainty, literature, drama, the imagination through books can take you to a place of safety, of shelter and wonderment where you learn lessons about life.

Ravenna

Number nine, your favourite, The Visit.

Lisa

The Visit is in the form of a comic, absurd, revenge tragedy, and the key idea is that greed and money can corrupt our values just as they corrupted Claire Zachanassian to the core.

Ravenna

And lucky last number 10. The taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare.

Lisa

Is a comic Shakespearean romp. The key idea is that love can bloom in the most unlikely place between the most unlikely people and that the treatment of women should be addressed and looked at in perhaps new ways.

Ravenna

Well done for taking on that challenge.

Lisa

Just very quickly, I'd say that any teacher or any student should be brave and dip their toe into this wonderful area of design or directorial folio. Some of these plays simply bring our world to life and I think you'll find that there's something for everyone on that list.

Ravenna

So lovely to chat with you today, Lisa. Thanks so much for giving your time to the drama teachers around the state as you have for so, so long.

Lisa

It's been a pleasure, Ravenna.

Jackie – This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Get involved in the conversation by joining our Statewide Staffroom through the link in the show notes or email our Creative Arts Curriculum Advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au .The music for this podcast was composed by Alexander McWhirter of Coonabarabran High school and the promotional tile designed by Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School.

[end of transcript]

Music

Listen to our guests unpack the various courses on offer for music students, including tips for preparing them for further study.

Jackie King

The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played, for they have performed age old ceremonies of storytelling, music, dance and renewal and along with all Aboriginal people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us also acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elders, past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.

Alex Manton

Welcome to the Creative Cast podcast series. My name is Alex Manton and I'm a Creative Arts Curriculum Officer with the New South Wales Department of Education. The area of discussion today is Where to From Here, Music Pathways after the HSC. Today we will be investigating some tertiary music options for students to continue studying music after high school. My first guest today is musician and educator, Michael Rohanek. Michael is a BMus education graduate from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He works as a professional musician playing piano for artists Australia wide, including Tom McKenney and Nancy Hayes. He is currently the head of Music at Ultimo TAFE which is based in Sydney and supervisors for staff and 900 students across four qualifications. Welcome Michael.

Michael Rohanek

Hi Alex. Hello, how are you going?

Alex

Good thanks.

Michael

Good, good to see.

Alex

Good to see you too. Can you tell us a little bit about music at TAFE Ultimo and I guess the type of learner your institution caters for like academic, hands on or industry focussed? Yeah, tell us about TAFE.

Michael

Okay, so the first thing you have to know about tough is that we are mandated to be industry focused. So, everything we do is the result of quite a lot of consultation with industry. All the courses that we teach have been created by educators and industry hand in hand. So, there's no such thing as a music teacher who delivers of course, that's been just developed by a music teacher. Everything has got a great slice of industry put into it. The second thing you have to know about TAFE is that all of our teachers have to be industry current. They can't just be teachers of music who have done it a long time ago, they have to show currency and ongoing currency. So, for me, you mentioned just a second ago that I play piano, that's part of my currency profile and I have to enter that into quite a substantial system that we have it approved. So, all staff have that kind of thing, whether it be they operate lights or they install PA systems or they teach piano or they playing gigs or working as a journalist, whatever it is they happen to do in the industry, that's part of their currency and they bring that currency to TAFE and teach with that currency. Courses that have industry in mind. So yeah, the first point is that our courses are all industry level. Being TAFE as well, we're not like academia. You mentioned I went to the conservatory and I got my fair share of academia and I was so happy with my four years of that. I didn't study anymore, but we have at TAFE very much a hands on approach and most of our students that study at in our VET courses are not the academic type. We have courses across certificate three, certificate four, diploma and advanced diploma levels and a lot of our students finish advanced diploma then go to further pathways to an institution like a university or an arts college.

Alex

How long would it take for a student to work through each of those diplomas? How long are the courses?

Michael

Okay, so a certificate three is six months, It's 3 days a week of face to face classes. Plus a similar amount of outside work for six months. You could do a certificate four after that as well if you like if you've done a cert three, you can you can get what's called articulation into a certificate four and get a few units off. So, you can finish a cert four in the remaining six months maybe. So that's a year's worth of that and then a diploma, depending on what you've done before, but generally speaking a diploma is a year long and then generally speaking an advanced diploma is also a year long. I'm trying to avoid all of the complexities that go with units and credit transfers that happen inside the VET sector being a little bit different to higher ed, where often you'll start one course, and because some units are common, they don't, they're not allowed to teach those units again, they are done and you can only do the units that are left. So that's kind of a complex part of that. But I'm just explaining to you how we do things that Ultimo.

Alex

Great. And what are the courses exactly on offer at TAFE where you work at the moment and what skills do incoming students need to have to access those courses?

Michael

Okay, let's start with certificate three, certificate three has four streams. So, four specialisations and each specialisation has a little bit in common with all the others. But the elective units are what makes it different. So, the specialisations in certificate three music business, music performance, sound production and what we call electronic music or D. A. W based digital audio workstation for the uninitiated, music in the box if you want to call it that. And so, each of those gives you a specialisation in that area. So, for instance, music business, you learn about venues and hiring and copyright law and how to manage a band and how to promote an artist, social media and stuff like that. The performance course is all about playing music and songwriting. So, it's obvious what you're going to do in that lots of rehearsal, lots of music theory, understanding lots of playing in groups, songwriting, presenting your pieces to other students and performances. The sound production course is all about operating equipment in the studio, microphones, mixers, compressors, EQ, recording, recording other artists and the electronic music course is all about creating music yourself using DAWs. So, it's all inside in the box. Now, those four streams that I talked about exist exactly the same at diploma level as well, except it's a higher standard and of course goes for longer and then once again, same thing Advanced Diploma have exactly the same course structures again, except at a higher level. Now, the odd thing is that all of those courses are all called either a Certificate three or diploma, Advanced Diploma in Music Industry and that's the full title, The Certificate Three Music Industry, Diploma of Music Industry, Advanced Diploma of Music Industry. And across that we have about 12 different offerings that go with that.

So, someone who is to start a certificate three. The certificate three is generally the same sort of learning standards year 12. And so, we would need someone to start cert three who had some understanding of their instrument, could play or do something to begin. They don't have to be particularly great, certainly not after AMEB standard type students, we’re after seeing a songwriter, types of people who can play, people who are interested enough to develop a career. A diploma level student kind of needs to be the person that's been out for a bit. Someone who's finished school, someone who has a year 12 standard of performance, who can play an instrument, someone who knows how to operate a small P. A. System or a small studio, and, particularly with music business, someone who has the reading and writing skills who's finished year 12. An advanced diploma once again is the same, it's a step past diploma. A lot of industry professionals, people who are out there working in industry and have been doing it for some time often approach me and ask can they please do an advanced diploma. And a lot of them do it just by submitting work and getting what's called R. P. L. Recognition of prior learning and they get their advance deployment just by submitting folders and folders of stuff that they've done. Examples of recordings and studio sessions and stuff like that.

Alex

That's so interesting that that's an option. That's great.

Michael

Oh yeah, quite a popular one.

Alex

Is there anything further that you'd like to add or any messages you'd like to give the teachers out there and how best to support their students?

Michael

Not everyone needs to go to the conservatory to study music. That's what I need to say. If you want to study music and become a musician working in the industry, coming to TAFE is a great option for those who haven't been brought up in doing Hanon exercises on the piano since they were five for instance. There is a great way for you to enter the industry with limited knowledge to learn from the ground up and learn also from the, the basic skills that you need to actually go get a gig, will be hired as a sound tech or get working in the industry to book a show. The people that actually work in the industry are well suited to coming and learning it at TAFE because of the grassroots education they'll get from that. When I was at the, I'm going to keep referring to the con as that's all I know, but when I was there, I wasn't taught a lot about how to get work. It was a very intense course about music and composition and teaching it and all of the stuff and I really enjoyed it. But our courses are all about how to participate in the workforce when you finish. And an interesting point is that we're starting to move into the degree space, so not just VET, so we'll be looking running next year, our very first degree called the Bachelor of Creative Practice, which is not a music degree, this degree is all about teaching you how to become the specialist creative practitioner. Take someone who can write songs, take someone who can produce music and give you all the professional skills you need to make yourself excellent and employable over a three year course.

Alex

It's a great initiative, Michael.

Michael

That begins next year, so here's to hoping that we get a great intake and get the ball rolling.

Alex

That's wonderful. Well, thank you so much for talking with us today and is there anything else you'd like to add?

Michael

I think a good thing to do would be if teachers want to know more about pathways I am more than happy to have the conversation with them at any stage. More than happy to discuss pathways, support plans for people that want to dump school halfway through year 11, stuff like that, which I'm not encouraging at all, the first thing I say to every student is I would really prefer it if you finish school, but every now and then I get someone who needs to leave and so we do take them. But as I said, the preference is to finish school.

Alex

Brilliant, thanks so much, Michael, That's fantastic information.

Michael

No worries at all Alex. My pleasure, my pleasure.

Alex

Our second guest today is Mr Matthew Hindson. Professor Matthew Hindson is the Deputy Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and in addition to this is a composer whose works are regularly played all over the world. He has worked at the University of Sydney since 2004 in a variety of roles and still teaches composition and music theory skills to first year and post graduate students. Matthew is often involved in advising students who want to study at the Sydney Conservatorium. Welcome Matthew.

Matthew Hindson

Hi Alex, great to be with you.

Alex

Can you tell us a little bit about music at the Sydney Conservatorium and the type of learner your institution caters for like hands on or academic or industry focused? What's the con all about?

Matthew

The Con is really about students who really love music. That's the easiest way to, to put it. I suppose though we’re really catering for students whose life is music, who when they are in their holidays, might learn a new piece or write a new song or write some music on the computer. And so, we're really focused on that more than anything else. But the great thing about the conservatorium is of course that we have a range of different discipline areas available. So, if you're a performer, I mean, when people think of the Sydney Con, one of the things I think of is classical music, right? Excellence in classical music, and also perhaps jazz since the 1970s has been very strong and yes, certainly that we continue to be super strong in that. And so we really are interested in students who are really great at that and really want to succeed in that area, but also we've got other areas as well. So, for example, we have contemporary music which has started up maybe five years ago now, students are doing incredible things in there Alex, I heard recently there, the EPs is written by the 3rd and 4th years, which is just mind blowingly good that these people are going to be stars without a doubt. We also have music education for example, and that's a really strong program. In fact, it's one of the few in Australia which you can do an undergraduate degree in music education. So, if you're interested in the process of learning and perhaps wanting to be a music teacher in the end we've got that possibility for you as well. So, they all are practical degrees, whether you're a musicologist wanting to write about music or performer or a composer or a songwriter or whatever you are, it's very much a practical based degree, but it is a university degree, it’s a degree from the University of Sydney and so there's also musicology parts to it too, and there's music theory and aural training. Different degrees have different requirements, so, for example, if you're a performer and you play the violin, part of what you have to do is learn to teach others to play the violin because we know that that's what a lot of people end up doing in the future, or even when they're still studying. So, look, it's a diverse program, but we're really focused on students who really love music and want to learn and be creative. That's what's one of the things that I think is one of the most amazing things about studying music at the conservatorium, you do get the chance to be creative whether you're a drum set player wanting to be creative in your drumming or whether you're one to write music for films or if you want to write music and work with other players, work with other performers writing new music on your computer, there's all sorts of possibilities available there. And I mean I love teaching there. I love studying music. When I left school, I had to choose between going into computer science and going into music. And I thought, you know, I really love music, in fact had a job already as a computer programmer, but I thought I'm going to go with what I love because that was the right decision. And I urge any students who are thinking what to do, go with what you love because then you can't go wrong, you really can't.

Alex

I love that. You've mentioned a little bit about the different disciplines that are available at the Conservatorium, what are the courses exactly on offer for the first year? So I'm assuming there's Bachelor of Music in each of those disciplines, is that correct? Matthew what's on offer there?

Matthew

Okay, so when students go from school or whatever, they're coming from into first year university, they will be enrolling in their degree disciplines. So, there's the Bachelor Music Performance, which is for students who want to study performance primarily. There's the Bachelor of Composition, which is for students who are interested in art music compositions. That is, for example, if you're interested in having your piece played at a Musica Viva concert in Sydney or something, you'll do that degree. There's the Bachelor of Music, which encompasses a number of degrees. So, for example, contemporary music composition for creative industries, which is like, if you want to be a film music compared to our digital music and media and musicology. So, there's that that's a sort of a catchall degree and what students will do, they'll enrol in that and then they'll choose their major, which has been determined through their audition. I'll talk about that a bit later if you like. And then there's also a Bachelor of Music Education, which is like the same sort of thing. It has many different areas of focus areas of study that students can be involved in. So for example, yeah, you could be a contemporary musician and wanted to do Bachelor Music Education, that's a possibility as well.

Alex

Fantastic. What skills do incoming students need to access these courses?

Matthew

Well, firstly, as I, as I said before, you need to be self-motivated and you need to love music. That's number one. Secondly, with all entry to music degrees at the conservatorium, you must do either an audition or submit a portfolio of your work and have an interview. Okay, so students will be aware that when you go to the university, you have to put in a UAC application saying what course you want to do and at the university that you want to do with that. But at the conservatorium we must also go through this other step of doing an audition or submit a portfolio and have an interview. Now that can be scary. A lot of students do find this scary and I think its a conservatorium I won't be good enough, but I don't know about that. You know, to be honest, I think that what the audition allows you to do is to show the staff at the conservatorium your potential. The audition and the interviews really are meant to show us as the staff, what potential you might have and students are coming from very different backgrounds. We know that for example, you might be a violinist, who's played the violin since you were four or you might be a msuic theatre performer who's really only got into music theatre in the last two years. That's okay because yes, there is a sort of a technical level or expectation that you're going to have to be at. But really, we're looking for what potential do you have to do well as a musician and finish the degree in a really wonderful way and really have a fantastic educational experience along the way. So, the process is, yeah, you've got to do your HSC and the minimum ATAR cut off for our degrees is 70. So, you have to get 70 or above, but also don't forget you have to do this audition or for the composition and musicology-based areas you also have to submit a portfolio and contemporary music as well, submit a portfolio of your work and then have an interview where we just discuss what you've done and what you're interested in doing.

Alex

Fantastic. Do you have to have done music two, to access your courses?

Matthew

No.

Alex

Okay, great, great.

Matthew

Look, most students have done music two or music one, but we also understand that it depends what you've had in your school. What I mean is, you can't help that. So there are some students who in fact haven't even studied music at school, you know, for those students who haven't studied it before, there'll be a bit of a learning curve when you get to university like any subject if you haven't done it before, but we've got students who have come in to all sorts of degrees from all sorts of areas and again, the main thing we're looking for is your potential as a musician.

Alex

Fantastic. And do you have any advice for our teachers for how they can best support their students in making a decision about a future career in music and post school pathways? I know you've touched on this briefly with, you know, if you love it, you should go for it. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Matthew

I think it's with every, every student and in fact every musician who works the conservatorium now they've had to have the conversation with their parents who say, oh you know, maybe you should be an accountant because it's a more stable job. Well, look, the fact of the matter is, is that music is a multibillion dollar industry in Australia, it's huge and the creative arts is a massive part of the Australian economy and there are a lot of people who do extremely well, there are lots of jobs in music or even music related areas. And the thing is that what you do at university does not define you as a person. Once you've finished your degree, either, we've got lots of examples of people who have gone on to completely different careers actually, but what they've been able to do from studying music is get that sense of creativity, as well as a sense of discipline which really works in terms of setting up people for success in whatever they go into afterwards, whether it's music or something else.

Alex

That's great advice. Fantastic, thanks so much, Matthew for chatting with us today.

Matthew

Thanks Alex.

Alex

Our final guest for today is Mr Julian Gough. Julian is a professional saxophonist, composer and educator who has been active in the music industry for 39 years. He's composed for television, international events and written commercially and released compositions for jazz and contemporary music. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree and certificate in Higher Education Practice and a Grad Diploma of Education with music majors. He has been working at AIM since 2006, initially working as principal of the Senior Secondary college and now works as the head of pathways and engagements. Welcome Julian. So, can you tell us a little bit about music at AIM and the type of learner your institution caters for, so for example, is an academic or hands on industry focused.

Julian Gough

Well, firstly I should give a little bit of an overview of the types of courses that we have. We've got six undergraduate courses in music and we've got one course that we offer that's actually not in music. So, lets see if I get this right now in alphabetical order, there's a Bachelor of Music in Audio, there's a Bachelor of Music in Composition, Bachelor of Music in Classical, a Bachelor of Music in Contemporary, Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre and I've forgotten one which should have been at the beginning, which is a Bachelor of Music in Arts Management and the last of the undergraduate awards that we've got is a Bachelor of Entertainment Management. And then once you've done your undergraduate degree, you can go on and do a Master of Music. And there's two nested courses included in there as well, which is a Graduate Certificate in Music and a Graduate Diploma in Music. Or you could do a Master of Arts and Entertainment Management and there's two nested courses in that as well. So, in terms of what you do, it's kind of really a split, if you like, between skills-based learning, knowledge-based learning and of course the application of knowledge-based learning. So, when we're talking about skills units, we're talking about your typical performance units. So, everybody gets an individual lesson, everybody does concert practice, everybody does a masterclass, everybody does performance studies in their different specific fields. And sometimes we bring everybody together. So, in a master class we might bring in a there might be a great pianist who might come in and cover across multiple areas and the same with singer.

And then with the knowledge-based units, we've got all your typical theory units there, the units that I love to teach, and students hate to take, and then you've got the critical studies units which are kind of a combination of theory, which is also applied theories. So, students are actually up doing the stuff and history as well. And then there's some sort of sociology units as well. And then there are the application units and that's where you'll actually bring people together for collaborative learning opportunities. So that might be a composition student who's working with the music theatre cast to create a new musical. In fact, that's something we're just doing with a Noel Coward play for next year. Or it might be an audio student who is working with a composition student who is working with a performance student doing a little collaborative project. So that's kind of the application if you like. And then kind of the last piece of the puzzle if you like is the electives. We've got a really wide range group of electives there. I think there's something like 50 different electives that we rotate and offer. And that means that a student who is in one area, let's say that you're an audio student, but you're also interested in production and composing well, you can do electives in those areas and you can really build up some core competencies. Same if you're a performance student, you might want to learn about arts management and you might want to understand about finance or music and the law or uh, you know, social media marketing or whatever it might be. You can do those units as well.

And what else can I tell you, it's a three year degree and you can undertake it also as a six year part time degree as well and the masters students do two years to complete a masters from beginning to end and then it's divided up into those different pies, it's basically two different trimesters of study to do a grad cert, two do the grad dip, and then two to complete the masters at the end. There we go, that's the overview.

Alex

Fantastic. So what skills do incoming students need to have to access these courses at aim?

Julian

Okay, so the first thing that I should probably say are the audition skills that you need to come in with. So, you need to be competent at your instrument, but you don't need to be certainly in contemporary and in composition, you don't need to be masterful at your instrument. But what we do like to see is the ability to be able to play contrasting styles. So, students should be able to come in and play, you know, if they're playing guitar, they could do something which may be a dream theatre piece or something, you know, they might do a metal piece, but then they should do something which is really contrasting with that. I don't want to hear two metal pieces which are subtly different, like try and do something different and that's the same with composition. You're asked to provide either two compositions that you've done and one can be a score, it can even be a handwritten score or it could be a recording and you might do a performance. So, if you're a singer songwriter, you might do something that you've actually created yourself and perform it yourself. If you're a music theatre student, we ask for two contrasting works, both from the music theatre genre, so that's one which is contemporary and that's one from Oklahoma or something like that. And you may be also asked to do some dancing and some acting because it's all about the triple threat. So, there will be a bit more of an extensive audition there. With the management students, there is an ATAR, so for all these other degrees, there's no ATAR requirement, it's an HSC plus no less than a band three in English standard and then the audition takes the place of that. But for the management course, the Bachelor of Entertainment Management, there is currently an ATAR of 65.

And then at the end of that you have to also do a theory test, that's for all the music students. The theory test will not deny you entry, what the theory test will do for us will place you in the right class and get you ready for tertiary studies. So you might be required to do a course called theory pathways, which kind of is for those music one students who've done lots of performance, but they really haven't got their theoretical chops up, so that really is like an intense and of course that we have at the beginning and that way, when a student comes in, they're actually well placed to commence our music materials theory course, so what, that's what you need. There's another side to that though, which, because I was thinking about this before and I was thinking, okay, well you've got the kind of the skills that everybody needs, which are your base performance skills or your ATAR skills, but there's all the skills that are really absolutely vital for students to have and in order for them to be kind of ready when they come into tertiary studies. So, I'm talking really about those readiness skills, including having well developed cognitive strategy skills, so students who are able to problem solve, we like students when they arrive, who think independently who question the system, question the man, I mean, that's what musicians are supposed to do and having ownership of their learning, so including having good time management skills. Students who've got time management skills invariably do very well to begin with.

And it's a real problem with musicians because how can I put this, we're creative, musicians are creative and that can sometimes mean we kind of float and time management has not always been a great strength of budding musicians, so having those well-developed time management skills that they've learnt right throughout their high school and are developing now as they come towards the end is really important and then there's the skills that come off that as well, like having good note taking ability and having strategic reading and strategic studying habits and perhaps most importantly, being able to collaborate because our course now and our courses into the future are really going to be focused on collaborative practice and collaborative learning and students are succeeding the first year are = also good questioners and they know when and where to get information from, and they, as I said, they like to be able to ask questions and demand questions really of their lecturers and be good at self-advocacy and even in the industry, their personal skills. Yeah, it's employers want that employers are absolutely set now on creativity, critical thinking, collaborative skills, being able to manage themselves and think independently, they're the most important things and that crosses right into the music industry, like the music industry has profoundly changed over the last 15 years and now it's really based upon those skills as much as it is based upon your performance and your composition will be,

Alex

Do you have any advice for our teachers of how they can best support their students in making a decision about a future career in music and post school pathways?

Julian

Well, I would say all of those things that I said before, just as important as learning to play your instrument well. So providing courses that actually and programs that require students to think independently and require lots of collaborative practice, lots of reflective practice as well, like how did things go, like how and what do you do when planning the next part of your performance and then carrying out that and evaluating it, those things are really important. But as well as that, it's actually about thinking about the industry now as being a very changed landscape to what it has been in the past. I mean we've just produced a document which is on careers in the music industry and in that we've named 75 different career paths that students can take, and in that we've also included the skill sets that they will need in order to be able to succeed. And then we've also aligned that with our courses. So I think that would be something which would be useful for teachers to have for any of their music students or students interested in the creative arts is to have a bit of a read of that document and see where their students might fit in to a possible future career pathway and I can let you know how to get that which is right on our main page of the website and you can just download it straight away. So, so you know, that's what I would say, develop those key skills and also think about what the career options might be for their students. It has changed.

Alex

Excellent, fantastic Julian, thank you so much for speaking with us today. You provided so much fantastic information about your courses and what AIM offers.

Julian

Right Alex. It's a real pleasure.

Alex

Please note that the courses discussed in this podcast are suggestions only and implies no endorsement by the New South Wales Department of Education of any program cause or institution.

Jackie

This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

Get involved in the conversation by joining our statewide staff room through the link in the show notes or email our Creative Arts Curriculum Advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au. The music for this podcast was composed by Alexandre McWhirter of Coonabarabran High School and the promotional tile designed by Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School.

[end of transcript]

Visual arts

Listen to visual arts teachers unpack the challenges and opportunities that impacted their teaching during the statewide lockdown periods, and consider the question 'where to from here?'

Jackie King

The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played, for they have performed age old ceremonies of storytelling, music, dance and renewal, and along with all Aboriginal people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us also acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elders, past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.

Alex Papasavvas

Hello and welcome to Creative Cast, the official podcast of the New South Wales Department of Education's Creative Arts Curriculum Team. My name is Alex Papasavvas and I'm a visual artist teacher and Creative Arts Curriculum Officer. Today I'll be speaking with two other visual arts teachers Tamara Laurie of Dubbo School of Distance Education and Jessica McCarthy of Mosman High School. I’ll be asking them to reflect on their experiences in the classroom in 2021 and consider the question where to from here.

Tamara, by way of introduction, could you tell us a little about your teaching background and your school context, particularly for listeners who might not be aware of how things work at the Dubbo School of Distance Education.

Tamara Laurie

I teach in Dubbo School of Distance Education and I predominantly teach across rule and remote New South Wales. Recently I actually calculated that I teach across 28 different or I have taught across 28 different rule and remote schools delivering primarily Stage 6 visual arts programs. But I also teach P. D. M, P. V. D. I, visual design and across 7 to 12. We have students that have medical issues that prevent them from attending school. We have students from the national school for the traveling shows. We have extraordinary circumstance enrolments, we have students with significant support needs, we have transition students with significant support needs and students that are temporarily traveling overseas and residing overseas. We have pregnant and young parents, students and we have geographically isolated students and travellers. I thought that was interesting to see our enrolment.

Alex

That's such an incredible diversity of student enrolments. How interesting!

Tamara

It is very interesting. Part of my job that I particularly enjoy is going out and actually working with the students, which is one of the joys of face to face.

Alex

Thank you so much. and Jess. What can you tell us about your teaching career and the art department at Mosman High School which I understand is located in an enviable location in a heritage listed building.

Jessica McCarthy

Yes, so Mossman High School is a pretty fantastic place to work out. I've been here for 16 years. I have this incredible classroom with amazingly high ceilings and this massive, massive space. We're very lucky. We have students that come into year seven and eight for a selective gifted visual arts program. So, they get extra lessons in visual arts in year seven and eight and we run an extension class for them where they get experiences that are different to the mandatory course. I teach visual arts, I have taught year 12 however, at the moment, because I'm Head Teacher Teaching and Learning and I have a really massive focus on teaching stem and cross curricular courses, my focus is a lot more on Stage 5. So, I have shifted away from teaching Stage 6 at this point in time, however, definitely collaborate within my faculty. So yeah, I have access to such incredible resources. I've got 3D printers, laser cutters in my classroom, digital technologies, we've got a dark room. Yes, it is a fantastic, fantastic school with some really amazing facilities and I definitely am very lucky here.

Alex

That all sounds very exciting. I'd love to have access to a lot of that stuff. Now, in preparation for this podcast, I asked you both to provide a quick account of one of your favourite artists or artworks and in the interest of fairness, I thought I should go first. I've chosen Jonathan Jones and one of his artworks from 2015 called naa, which is an Eora word meaning to see or look. This artwork occupied a large wall at the MCA in Sydney and is comprised of a large number of white fluorescent light tubes arranged onto the wall in a way that resembles a long exposure photograph of star trails. And I think this is a great example of the way that Jonathan Jones connects his conceptual and material practice to his investigations of site, culture and history. The star trails represented here reflect those seen from the site of Warrane or Sydney Cove where the MCA is located. But Jones asks us to take a step further and consider the narrative of Lieutenant William Dawes, the first fleet astronomer who worked from this site and who also engaged in a number of cultural exchanges with Eora people including a woman named Patyegarang from whom he learned language. A great example of Jonathan Jones’ practice of using materials in a way that echo the minimalism of the 1960s. And I'm referring to those fluorescent light tubes while also embedding deep conceptual layers that invite audiences to learn more about history and culture. So, staying in the Sydney region, Jess, what artwork have you chosen to share with us today?

Jessica

I think particularly since lockdown has occurred and I've probably spent way too much time on social media, I have become a lot more involved in and really enjoying watching artists’ practice from behind the scenes. So, I've been on Tik Tok a lot more, on Instagram and I've fallen in love with the work of CJ Hendry. C. J. Henry is this young female artists in America who works in coloured pencil photo realistic drawing. I think the reason I love her work is that it amazes me every time I look at it. But the beautiful thing is she allows us to come on this journey with her on social media to reveal how she creates the works as well as entering into a dialogue about why or her themes. And even like at the moment she's creating a new exhibition called Blonde and it's all wigs and they're all drawn in coloured pencil and her exhibition invite is a laser cut comb. So, she's sending out combs to people to come to the exhibition. And I just love that idea of being able to be somewhere so involved in the artist practice. And I guess in learning about her work, she just had this act or a performance that she just did about copyright infringement. So, I didn't realise it was her who had done this. But I had heard this story and I've linked two and two together. She did a photo realistic drawing of I think Andy Warhol and Basquiat and I think, I don't know who told her to, but somebody said you need to destroy that work. Your copyright infringement, it's not appropriate. And so, she did a video of herself spray painting over the top of that work. And so, she's developed this as a response to that, a body of work called copyright infringement. And she's made like cups and T shirts and she makes little red boxes or different installation things and she places them all around the world and through her Instagram and Tik Tok, she tells you where she's put them. So, she's got a video showing the location and even videos of people coming and like grabbing the box and taking them away. So, they essentially own a piece of her artwork. So, it's this great dialogue for students. Not only is her artistic practice just incredible in her ability to manipulate materials, but she also creates this amazing dialogue about why we make art, who's the owner of art, what's originality, what's technique, how do we view work change? Because if you look at her work on the screen, you just go, oh yeah, that's a paint blob. And then when you look at her drawing her work, the scale of it is massive and you really become involved and impacted by how has she actually created that. So, I just, I love that. And I love the behind the scenes and I love the social media. I think it's really accessible for students as well as just being.

Alex

I have heard of these as hyper realistic drawings, but I hadn't heard about some of these other things that you said she's been doing out there in the real world. I also really like the idea of receiving a comb in the mail. Yeah, just as an aside. Very interesting. Thanks Jess. How about you Tamara? What particular artists have you brought for us today?

Tamara

Thank you Jess. I did think that was quite amazing. And I also really appreciate the work of Jonathan Jones, Alex. I've been quite enthralled by Australian sculptors, particularly women sculptors. Karla Dickens, Meghan Cope and Caroline Rothwell. And today I thought I'd talk about Caroline Rothwell. She's quite a significant sculptor on the Australian art scene. Her work's been at Martin Place, the little bronze children. So, people may not realize that this is her work. She's been in the Wynne Prize and the Sulman Prize as a sculptor, which is a little unusual. They're mainly painting prizes. In 2020 she had to work on the M. C. A terrace called Composer in 2016 from memory. And I don't have a picture of it in front of me. It was a beautiful silver, almost sort of woven, not woven but a stitch sort of cult like sculpture that was commenting on climate change. And it was like a weathervane that moved around the harbour. Her early work, I was really quite enthralled with her early work where she was collecting carbon emissions and OHS wise perhaps not the safest thing to do, which you know, she's embedded more into her practice more recently, but using carbon emissions and mixing them with binders to create these beautiful detailed drawings of plants. She's really interested in that connection between art and science. So, she's looked at also pervasive weeds and strict stitching weeds. I think she was talking about being friends with Ben Quilty one time and having him take photos of weeds in Afghanistan when he was on a trip over there to do his commissioned work. So, he would send pictures of the weeds back to her. And she was interested in that invasion of borders and how weeds may represent that. Going to the Univsersity of Arts in London had a big influence on her. And Cornelia Parker was one of her lecturers. I'm also really interested in the way she creates these inflatable sculptures. So, you know, the big inflatables that you can blow up and then you can fold them up at the end of an exhibition, interesting artist to have a look at.

Alex

Great, thank you Tamara. And I think one of the best things we can do is visual art teachers is just tell each other about our favourite artists sometimes, because that's often where I learn about new practitioners that I might not have heard before, or ones that I had heard of, but not really taken in certain aspects of their practice. That as an art teacher, sometimes, I just really zero in on stuff that I think would be interesting or useful in my classroom. But now let's shift the tone to something a little bit more serious. So, we know that 2020 to 2021 was unprecedented in terms of disruptions to our usual teaching practices and that's really affected everything from everyday classroom practice, to the kind of activities we program for, all the way through to their body of work being marked internally for two consecutive years. So, I want to know what this has looked like in your settings. How did you cope, what changes did you make and what was successful? What were you able to do differently in 2021 versus 2020? I'd love to hear about one big challenge and one big success from the remote learning period. Jess, you're in Sydney and I know you've had an extended period of remote learning through that long Sydney lockdown. What can you tell us about the way you manage that change?

Jessica

I think there are so many interesting things about that lockdown. So, I guess we sort of saw it coming and in that last week of term, in the executive, we had the directive to make sure there was at least a unit of work that could go online. We had already implemented some really great systems practice from the year before, and we replicated those and made sure we were still following those. So, we created this system, we were using google classroom at my school and I don't know if it's a system, but anyway, we made these slides on google slides that essentially became modules and we worked students through each step of a unit of work. So, in Stage four we have four periods of fortnight. So, a module was designed to be for four periods or four lessons and could be worked through. So, what we did was we distributed those modules as google slides on google classroom. They had interactive activities within those google slides and students had to upload their work into the google slides. It gave us the opportunity to give feedback interactively into those slides, it gave them content, it gave them examples of work to look at, it gave them youtube videos, podcasts, articles to read. So, it's sort of all encompassed our teaching practice into these google slides at my school. We had to log on for zoom roll call at the beginning of every lesson and it was I think the good part about it was I really liked working in this way where students actually got the work prior to the learning or they could work at their own pace. So, it was really nice to set a nice space for students. I thought that was really excellent. The resources we designed and created were so usable and we're definitely going to keep using them again, like we used them from last year to this year and then we've rebuilt upon that. We've also embedded into that like us making artworks and talking through them.

I think the biggest challenge that we found was, and you realize how much you appreciate being in your classroom or having this built into what we do, is that incidental feedback. When you say do a drawing, students felt like they had to do a complete drawing or something had to be finished before they shared the work. It was such a battle to get students to show me their progress. And I said, my job is to give you ongoing feedback to learn how to do this. Your work is not meant to be good every time you create it, it's not meant to be finished every lesson. I want to see that progress to give you feedback, advice, strategies, ideas, positive reinforcement. And it was like pulling teeth to get kids to show their work so that I found that the most challenging, and having that dialogue with students all the time, like or even realizing if one student struggling that you can stop the class and share a strategy across that whole class, it was ongoing online feedback where you're typing feedback and I felt like I ended up typing similar things all the time and you couldn't just collectively share that feedback because you weren't in that one, that collaborative space.

Alex

It must be hard to replicate those kind of moments that you have in the classroom where you walk past the desk and what that student is doing sparks up a feedback conversation, either just with them or as you say, a moment where you stop everyone and say, wow, I just thought of something great, this student has done it, we should all stop and think about this for a moment and then proceed with the rest of the art making.

Jessica

Yeah, and you just really appreciate that is so much about that direction and that students really need that because they don't know how to grow unless they have that dialogue. So that was definitely challenging. But I think some of the good parts was because we designed these slides, so we had students inserting their work and I tried to build in a place of progress image, I shared a lot more work. So I shared student, like shared the screen, so where kids would probably be working in isolation at their desk, I actively use that share screen function a lot and shared their work and students that may never have had a voice in the classroom, their work could be celebrated across that cohort and they didn't get the choice to share it or not, and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I mean, I always say art is meant to be seen, it's meant to be seen by an audience and it's meant to provoke a conversation. So, for those students that perhaps were afraid to show their work, I forcibly showed their work, I guess, and everybody when they did share their work, they really got that sense of achievement by realizing that they were on the right track or when other students said, wow, that's really good. So, you know, it had its pluses and minuses for sure and definitely it's challenges like limitations of materials. I had a kid and I said, okay, we're going to grab a piece of paper and a pencil, I don't have one, would you have something to draw with? And he came back and he's like, okay, I found something, I'm like, what are you drawing on? It was a beer carton with permanent marker. That was all he had was this ripped piece of cardboard and a permanent marker and he's drawing was phenomenal. So, you know, sometimes you work well with those limitations too.

Alex

That takes me back to, is it from a Banjo Paterson poem, the thumbnail dipped in tar. Sometimes I’ve thought, what would that look like in the art classroom? Probably very messy I think. So, Tamara, Dubbo had its own lockdown didn't it, that went for over a month, but of course you already do your own version of remote learning as a standard practice in distance education. So, I'm really curious about what aspects of your teaching were most affected by the various lockdowns across the state. Were those existing structures in distance education helpful in mitigating a challenging situation or where there still major hurdles that had to be overcome. What can you tell me about your particular challenges and successes in 2021?

Tamara

I really enjoyed listening to Jess talking about the successes of individual students through learning remotely being able to share and getting that more personalised feedback. I think that's one of the beauties of teaching distance education is that, you know, students are their own person and they don't have that classroom context to negotiate. But we're very lucky that through lockdown announcement for about three months I think. So, we already deliver blended learning. We have courses on Canvas and I deliver lessons via Teams each week to groups of students and individually. I was quite pleased to see when all of my students from single course schools because I predominantly teach Stage 6 and the students are at single course schools and already have a timetable so I can't get them all in the one lesson but when they were at home I could get them all in the one lesson until their schools imposed a new timetable. But it's really lovely to get all of the students together. So that was a nice thing about being in lockdown, that we could actually all have a lesson together and you know, that's really important to talk about your bodies of work and get some peer feedback. Yeah, that was a lot easier. Even though, you know, we do do that sort of thing through shared documents and we do occasionally have our Teams meeting and we do have exhibitions online where we can see one another's work and provide feedback that way. One of the challenges that I had was in getting materials to the students. We usually send out packs, but we couldn't use the mail room and as it's blended learning as you can imagine it, some people find it a challenge to be learning online all the time, going through big case studies and lots of reading, so I do support my teaching through sending out written case study booklets as well, so that was not possible through lockdown. We also missed out on doing workshops. That was one of the difficulties, because one of the really important things that I do at distance ed that I value and students value is that I can go out and actually work one on one with students or in small groups in area workshops and deliver skills because that's not something that you can do online. Although today as I was telling you Alex before, I did my first online workshop for the full day, so I had a student on the tv screen that's behind me and I painted, she painted, and I tried to demonstrate, it was really successful. We worked together for the full day and I think she really got a lot out of that day and students do get a lot out of working one on one with a teacher for a full day, it's something that you would love to have in a classroom and that sometimes, you know, be that make or break for that student for the year, but I offer three workshops, probably a term that they can either come here or I go out there. And that was something that didn't happen through covid 19. So, those students in year 11 and 12 sort of missed out on those opportunities to build skills.

Alex

When you say you usually do around three workshops per term and the students choose which ones to come in for, does this mean that you're doing these centrally based around what you think the particular skills, material techniques, your students will need?

Tamara

Well, you have to organise it based on the workshops. The needs are supposed in the interests of students, particularly for HSC. And in my preliminary course, I go through a range of 2D and 3D art making workshops. So, I give the students those opportunities to develop skills in those different forms as per the syllabus, and then they build on from there and they make their own choices and the actual workshops, I do give them choices in what I deliver when I go out there, but often they don't know what they want to do until they have an experience in it. And then they grow from there as you know, you know, making is very intuitive and creative, it's offering those opportunities and also teaching them about material practices and what materials they can use because they don't have art shops out in the Western region. They don't have access to materials. They can't, you know, they don't know what good paper is or quality of materials and are quite limited in their experience materially.

Alex

Sure. And what about the HSC you had an HSC class this year, Tamara?

Tamara

Yes, I do have an HSC class this year. So, some of them were impacted and some of them were impacted and didn't realize that they were impacted. I think they felt a little bit disheartened, they got a bit disheartened when they couldn't have workshops and then they couldn't get the materials. And so, you know, they started to give up where, you know, you're constantly trying to build them up and build up their ideas and you know, towards the end, this HSC has sort of gone on forever and they still haven't finished and it's still impacting, you know, my students doing the compressed model who are starting next week. So, the student I taught today is actually sitting the HSC in a couple of weeks, but also continuing with visual arts and starting new compressed subjects. So, it's really impacting on them for the next year as well.

Alex

Very difficult. And I think a lot of teachers would have had the experience this year of their Year 12 class of 2021, still sort of dealing with the fact that they were also impacted as year 11s in 2020. Some big challenges there. So, let's come around now to the big philosophical question for this episode, where to from here? I want to know from both of you what your big plans are for 2022. What have you had to put on hold this year that you're looking forward to picking back up and what changes to your teaching practice from the last two years are you looking to maintain or improve on into the post lockdown period? Tamara, where to from here?

Tamara

Well, I had a Stage 6 visual arts senior study day with exploring culture with Abdul Abdullah and Mervyn Bishop, booked for term three to inspire Stage 6 students starting the HSC course and that's been postponed until next year. So, I'm looking forward to having that term one. I'm looking forward to using Teams more interactively. We're very flexible with our delivery because you know, not everybody has access to the same thing. So, we sort of work across a lot of platforms. But I'm trying to direct all of my students into Teams and saving files and Canvas also, we deliver our programs on Canvas. I'm hoping the National Art School programs are running next year because my students love to go down there and worked intensively and I look forward to running more workshops here at distance education and also going out and visiting students face to face. And ultimately we're doing it online. But it's a little bit more challenging because I have to get them the materials to be able to do the work online. Yes, so hopefully we get to do more art making.

Alex

I think more art making is usually a good idea. And finally Jess, what are your big plans for 2021, and what changes from the last two years are you looking to keep?

Jessica

I found a really massive shift in I guess the creation and development of art works and how I deliver theory work. So previously definitely in year seven, like I am a massive tech guru, like I love using technology, I have virtual reality that I use in my classroom, I do 3D modeling and game design. So, I do a lot of digital work and I love it but I still always felt like the tactile nature of using a visual arts process diary and having students do their theory tasks in year 7/8 as a written task. Like getting them into the love of writing and we design really nice worksheets and assessment tasks that also look nice, that really helped them work through text and as you said, Tamara, about reading on papers of highlighting and learning how to do summary and note taking, you know, using Cornell note taking system and all those sort of things. The strategies that I put in place. However, working online, actually we developed new strategies and new approaches to that written component of the task that I actually think allows for a lot more flexibility and differentiation as much as they're reading, potentially on the screen. We still actually taught them how to highlight and read on a screen, had a note take and summarise on a screen, how to use those digital tools to still be able to accomplish those results. Some of our written tasks we did on google forms and they are really, really great to mark and give feedback and distribute back to students. So, there's aspects of that that I wouldn't take away. Also the ability to enter into, as I was saying about students that don't always speak up in the classroom, entering into a dialogue with students in an online forum. Sometimes students without a voice in the classroom actually ask questions and they feel more confident. They're really polite. I found it really nice, like you give them feedback and then they reply with a thank you and they don't, it's not that they're not polite, it's not that they're not polite in the classroom, but they do appreciate that one on one feedback. So, I think embedding that more is really important. I think planning still has to happen in the visual arts process diary, but I think having those key practitioners in interactive resources for students to work through in their ideation phase of art making is really going to be changed. I'm going to change that more. And I think for me, the process, I will become a little bit more fluid and a bit more of that digital tool as I said, I know we need drawing and paper and I think that's all part of it, but I don't now see the point in necessarily photocopying worksheets and getting students to glue them into their art diaries because I don't think that's going to facilitate learning. I think this flexibility is just so wonderful and timely. Like we can find a Youtube link and send it to the students and they can watch it and then be so much more engaged and involved. I think that's great. I'm really excited to have exhibitions back in our classroom. So, our art block usually gets transformed into an exhibition. As I said, I have a really big, we have really big spaces and we usually put artworks up on the wall and I felt like this year I've had so little resolved artworks that even the works that students have brought back from being online, I can't put up, there's not a lot of work to put up onto the wallet and have enough work to share. And I really like to start my year, usually with artworks up on the wall from the exhibition, for example, 2021 into 2022 and I miss having that. I miss being surrounded by the product of learning. So, I'm really excited to have that back because that tangibility for students to realize that this is not just something we talk about and think about, this is something you get to do and make. So that will be really nice. Although as I said once again we did create a virtual reality art exhibition, we did that in 2020 and I've done that again in 2021. So, we've had a special 360 degree camera come through our building with the Year 12 artworks up so that they can have a lasting memory of their works in situ, which is once again is pretty wonderful.

Alex

The 3D model of the Mossman High School art building block is pretty impressive. Very lucky. I wish I had one of my own. That brings us to the conclusion of this episode. So, I'd like to offer my deepest thanks to Tamara Lawry and Jess McCarthy for taking time out of their classrooms to speak with me today. It has been fascinating. Thank you both.

Jackie

This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Get involved in the conversation by joining our statewide staff room through the link in the show notes or email our Creative Arts Curriculum Advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au. The music for this podcast was composed by Alexander McWhirter of Coonabarabran High School and the promotional tile designed by Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School.

[end of transcript]

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