Transcript of Creative casting call

This podcast has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the Creative casting call podcast (28:32).

Jackie – 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 – 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 – 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 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.


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