Transcript of Bonus episode – Visual arts

This podcast has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the podcast (22:05).

Jackie – The following podcast is brought to you by the creative arts curriculum team from 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 around New South Wales. Their art, storytelling, music and dance along with all First Nations People hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia. 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 we're going to have a bonus episode and the chat is going to be with visual arts advisor Kathrine Kyriacou about one of our resources that was released last year to help with assessing visual arts bodies of work, please welcome Kathrine. Hi Kathrine, how are you?

Kathrine – Hi, Jackie, I'm very good, thank you.

Jackie – Thank you for joining us today. I know it's a very busy time in the term for you with the HSC professional learning coming up. But today we're going to talk about the assessing visual arts body of work resource. And this was a resource that was released last year to assist teachers through Covid to mark their own bodies of work. But it is a really fantastic resource that is still available that can help teachers and students in lots of different ways. So, can you start us off today by just telling us about what the resource is and how teachers can get to it?

Kathrine – Sure, can. Yes, look, you're right. It was made in 2020 when there was a requirement for visual arts teachers to mark their own HSC bodies of work objectively. And I think for many visual arts teachers, you know, that involved quite a bit of up skilling and learning. And this was a resource that the department created to really support teachers and give them practice in marking HSC bodies of work. It is an online website and you access it by going to the stage six visual arts curriculum page and then there's a link that will launch you off onto a separate website. The website has three sections and the first section really unpacks what there is in the resource and how you might use it. There is a section that has several videos where two highly experienced visual arts teachers demonstrate a critical dialogue about bodies of work on several different bodies of work. Students might not know, but I know that most visual arts teachers do know, that's a really important part of the marking process before any mark is awarded is this critical dialogue. So, the two markers approach a body of work and they look at an artwork in terms of the material and conceptual properties and really try and unpack that in discussion. So, we have several examples of teachers doing that with bodies of work that are made in a range of mediums. And then we also have a separate section again where there are works that are just practice marking works. So, the films on the in the third section, you don't get that critical dialogue, but you do get beautiful footage of the work from a range of angles and that gives you an understanding of the work in the round or its size and scale. So, it's a really rich resource and perhaps one that people looked at last year for themselves. And I'm thrilled that we've got the opportunity to talk today about how you could use it for your students now that we're in a different phase.

Jackie – Yeah, I'm excited to unpack that a little more too because it is something that I have seen discussed, you know, about unpacking the bodies of work and unpacking the marking criteria and unpacking how the marking works. So, students have a better idea of what they need to achieve, which is a really fantastic thing, but we'll get to that a little bit later. So how does this “assessing visual arts, bodies of work”, how does it link to the syllabus or specifically to HSC requirements in visual arts?

Kathrine – The most obvious thing that people would immediately understand is that this is a resource that shows a range of bodies of work and bodies of work where students are achieving different results. They're not the kinds of work that you might see at art express, and that's really fantastic for teachers to see, and for students to see, these are students who are achieving at different levels. The work, I guess reflects all of the making objectives really. It's represents a culmination of the art making objectives. That's what the body of work is. It is an exam. The body of work is an exam that students complete and this is having a look at a range of responses to that examined. I guess, for students, this is about up skilling them in terms of understanding the requirements of the exam and also then adding the lens and the perspective that a marker might have and some of the knowledge that a marker might have by engaging with this resource. And also for students, you know, there's other ways you could use it too, it doesn't just sit for me as a resource that you can use to help students with making. There are so many ways you could use this resource to help your students in the art historical critical component. Because when you assess a body of work, you're actually interpreting an artwork. So, you're interpreting the material and conceptual qualities of the work and you're making a judgment, so you're backing up your claims with evidence directly from the work. And definitely in section one of the visual arts HSC exam, when students are looking at a range of unseen source materials, they're doing exactly that they're looking at artworks they haven't seen before. They are asked to analyse the qualities of those works to inter relate their knowledge of the frames, the conceptual framework and practice in order to interpret those works effectively and to make judgments about those works and that's what this does. I think also just to go one step further, I'm probably overstepping your next question, but look language as well, when you hear the two quite experienced markers and I will say they are Rebecca O’Donoghue and Jennifer Tislovich. When you hear both of those amazing teachers unpack the artworks, you are hearing a really rich, expressive, specific visual arts meta language and there's so many ways that teachers could use that. I mean just getting students to add to their vocabulary lists by listening to all of the different descriptive interpretive words that those two markers make would be really worthwhile.

Jackie – They really are in depth conversations. I feel like I got almost a whole art lesson as I was watching the videos because they're talking about the various genres and the different types of art and I think that's really fantastic too. There's examples for all of the different ranges of marks, but also so many different mediums as well being shown. So, it really gives students a really fantastic well body of work to look at.

Kathrine – No, it does. There's diverse mediums there and there's some examples of quite innovative practice, and then there's examples of quite traditional or established practice. And also there are examples where you would hope that students can see, you know, an achievement that is accessible and then maybe put on their critical hat and, you know, there's a beautiful range of activities you could do with this, and think how would they feed forward to this student, therefore they're going to also think of how can I feed forward to myself? You know, if I was to look at my own work now, it's always easy to give other people feedback. We both know that it's much more challenging to give yourself feedback, I think by getting classes to start or students to start by engaging with other students’ works and objectively thinking about where that might sit, compared to the marking guidelines that are publicly available on the NESA website, and then to look at their own work, you're starting to give them actually the insider knowledge that they need to lift or to help themselves on that journey towards better achievement, I guess.

Jackie – So just on that, my next question is actually how will students or how will this improve outcomes for students? So, do you want to unpack that just a little bit further?

Kathrine – Yeah. Look, I think there's several different ways. First of all, students, in order to be able to give their best, students need to understand the process of marking bodies of work and for quite a long time, this hasn't been knowledge that has been very, very readily available or accessible and it is now, and I think teachers need to make the most of that. It shouldn't be precious private knowledge that only teachers understand. If you want your students to do well, you need to up skill them or, to use the language of academic Wayne Sawyer, you need to ensure that they also are assessment insiders, they have the knowledge, skills and understanding or some of the knowledge, skills and understanding, that you have so that they are able to make objective judgments about their work. So, I've spoken about the fact that it might help students with a critical dialogue that might help them with their building a visual arts meta language. It certainly would help them to understand the exam marking guidelines and the different bands for marking bodies of work. I also think it will help them to clearly see that there is no one answer for how you respond to the problem of creating a body of work, that there are multiple pathways to do that and hopefully will help them see that body of work inter relates your conceptual practice, so your ideas and your intentions, and then also your material practice your skills and techniques and methodology that you might use to create the work. So, look, there's so many ways.

Jackie – Yeah, that's fantastic. And I even loved that idea of just adding to their word banks or their vocabulary lists about using different words to describe an artwork, because that's obviously what they need to do in the exam as well.

Kathrine – Yes, and go beyond description really, and that's the beauty of this too. We actually want to move them beyond, so we want them to have all the layered rich words that they need to describe, and then we want them to move as the markers do when you watch these videos into interpretation and to really make connections and to start to think, you know, things aren't arbitrarily placed on a canvas, the artist has put things there for a reason. And as the audience interacts with the work, they start to unpack these the layers of meaning. And it's really, you know, it could be quite an effective moment for students to look and go, gee, you know, well, the layers of meaning in this work a far more obvious. It doesn't take me anywhere. It's very, you know, it is what it is and then it shuts down. But actually, when we looked at this other work, that might be a stronger work, there's a lot more we can unpack and we can connect it to the practice of an artist that we studied last year and we can see that there are codes and signs and symbols and choices that the student is made to get us to make more sophisticated and informed connections. So, and for students to start to see that. Well then they also, we hope, start to then think of ways to apply that to their own work.

Jackie – In the statewide staff room, you put up a bit of a lesson recently for how teachers might be able to use this resource. And I know there are so many different ways that teachers could use this resource. Could you share with us some ideas on how you think teachers, even though this was created to help them be able to mark their own bodies of work last year. How could teachers now take this resource and use it as a classroom tool?

Kathrine – Sure, yeah, I can. And we're actually going to put some of these ideas on the website link from our curriculum page too. And look, I'll give you a couple of quick ideas, but they're not, there's so many different ways you could use it. As I've already said, you really could build up vocabulary using these. I think if you were to give your students the body of work marking guidelines from NESA and you familiarized them with the language of those. One of the ideas that I had put on the statewide staffroom page was actually don't give them the marking guidelines as they are just printed straight off from NESA. Even at that point, give them something that's jumbled up, give them the marks, you know, in one column and all the different descriptors all mixed up and ask your students to really look at the differences in the language and you know, that could be a very simple three or four minute activity at the start of a lesson, put the marking guidelines back together so that you've actually engaged with what they say and the differences in the terms and the meanings under each of the bands. I had said that you might show a class a video and the critical discussion that you might stop that video at a certain point and ask the students to use the marking guidelines and to give that work a mark, even to talk with the person beside them so that they're having a critical dialogue. Maybe they write some notes down about their interpretation of that work, where they justify that mark, then sharing that with a class could be really engaging lesson. And certainly, you will get to see how the kinds of value judgments that your students are making and whether they're able to link some of those value judgements back to evidence that's actually in the artwork, which are again, the kinds of things you also want them to do in an HSC written exam, interestingly, very, very similar skills. So, you're covering a couple of bases here by working in this space. I think certainly you could set up your class in little practice marking teams and let them have a go of being the ones who go around and look at works and argue for a mark for each work. And you could share those. I think you also could really build up your students understanding of material and conceptual practice and the frames and the conceptual framework as you support them to have a critical dialogue about those works. Look, there's lots of different ways. I've probably said, some of the most obvious which is to get them to actually act as markers. I'd love to hear if people are using them in any other ways. We haven't had this kind of resource before available to visual arts teachers and it's really exciting to have something that supports both growth in your own students and their understanding of the demands of the HSC and of assessment practices, and of language and marking criteria or bands. And then also, you know, you can still of course use this privately to lift your own knowledge and understanding of marking. So it's a pretty unusual resource and I'm really excited by it really. Yeah, I'm excited it can live outside of Covid, so that's good.

Jackie – Yeah, that's fantastic. I was going to say, I think it's as you said, for them to be was Assessment Insiders. Yeah. So they really understand what it is the markers are looking for and for teachers and students to really understand that I think is a really important thing.

Kathrine – Yeah. And look, it really is worth, for the teachers that are listening, they will, they may not know Rebecca and Jennifer, they may heard of Ron and I do need to give Ron Pratt from Wyndham College some credit because he worked with us on this and he is so experienced in marking bodies of work and in this space. So, there is a little introductory clip by him which really was set up to give teachers guidelines during the 2020 marking process. But there are so many valuable tips in that and I would encourage teachers to go back and revisit some of the some of the advice that he passes on.

Jackie – I'm sure 2020 is a year most people would like to forget, but it is really nice to talk about some of the positives that have come out of that. And because this resource now exists, because teachers had to mark their own works, there's now so many different ways and ways that will benefit you in the classroom as teachers and also your students.

Kathrine – Absolutely.

Jackie – I do want to mention that there's going to be a link for the resource, a direct link for the resource in the show notes that is available to teachers of all sectors. Please have a look at the show notes, and click on the link and go and have a look at the resource and you can, I'm sure you can come up with ways beyond that we've talked about today to use it in your classroom. And if you are a New South Wales Department of Education teacher it would be great to hear in the statewide staff room how you are using this resource. Kathy, you have a really fantastic podcast coming up next week where we unpack some of the HSC professional learning that you run. And we look at some of those strategies across the creative arts. So, can you tell us a little bit about the podcast that we've got coming up next week?

Kathrine – Yeah, I'm really excited about that, Jackie because we've had lots of queries from teachers about HSC professional learning and it is visual arts as the creative arts subject that's been involved in the last year and a half. Although, you know, that may change in the future and others might come on. The nice thing about the podcast is we do talk about a couple of the strategies that really successful HSC teachers use across New South Wales and those strategies are unpacked in relation to visual arts and music and drama. And look, it's just really lovely to hear about how a teacher in one classroom can be using a strategy really effectively with their own content and their own students. And that strategy also can work in another classroom equally effectively. So, it was really interesting to hear from our drama and music creative arts officers about their experiences. So, I hope people do tune into that. It's a little insider knowledge if you haven't done the professional learning as to what we're doing in that space.

Jackie – Yeah, I'm really looking forward to that one as well. Thank you so much for your time today Kathrine, for unpacking the resource and giving some ideas of how we can use this fantastic resource that was created for Covid but using it post Covid to improve outcomes for students and also using like having another classroom resource that you can tap into. I think it's fantastic.

Kathrine – Thank you so much, Jackie. And again, look, thanks to the wonderful teachers who supported the making of that resource as well. Very grateful.

Jackie – This podcast was brought to you by the creative arts curriculum team of 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 at Creative Arts curriculum advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au. The music for this podcast was composed by Alex Manton and audio production by Jason King.

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