Transdisciplinary Theme: How We Express Ourselves, 

PYP Key Concept: Communication, Perspective, Change

Central Idea: Collaborative Inquiry is a journey which empowers students to demonstrate life-long skills and dispositions which lead to action.

Line of Inquiry: Artists use creativity to raise awareness of matters that are important to them.

From the National Core Art Standards: Our aim is for students to demonstrate their ability to:

Compare one’s own interpretation of a work of art with the interpretation of others.

Identify and envision how art can be used to inform or change beliefs, values, or behaviors of an individual or society.

Experiment and develop skills in multiple art making techniques and approaches through practice.

Create artist statements using art vocabulary to describe personal choices in artmaking.

Welcome back to school! We hope you had a relaxing break. The aim of this blog post is to enlighten you, regarding this year’s strong integration of art and the upcoming Grade 5 PYP Exhibition (PYPX). As you know, students are currently involved in a personal investigation of their choice, related to the United Nations Sustainable Goals. Groups have been organised according to interest and students are now in the midst of a collaborative process of inquiry. This year, they will be required to present their learning journey via Webex and by use of a group created website.  This is the culminating learning experience of your child’s elementary school experience and very exciting! Right now, the PYPX Art Action Station (workspace outside the art rooms) is buzzing with creative activity on a daily basis. Many students have chosen to sign up for the use of the studio space in order to create artworks which will assist in raising awareness of their findings and desire for change.

How did we get here?

January/February – Investigation: Students engaged in close observation of various artworks which clearly contain a message and desire for change. Discussion was based on the following questions: What do we feel strongly about? What would we like to shout from the rooftops? How can we use creativity to communicate our thoughts and ideas, inform and change beliefs, practices, or habits?

The work of Canadian Artist Benjamin Von Wong (Parting of the Plastic Seas) was used as a springboard to thinking. This collaborative work is easily relatable for students and immediately impactful.

Parting of the Plastic Seas

Students further engaged in observing and interpreting various other artworks which are intended to communicate the desire for change or raise awareness of important issues.

February/March: Exposure to and exploration of, a variety of art making forms

Students were reminded that art comes in a variety of forms, such as painting, drawing, construction, printmaking and collage. Students were allowed the freedom to explore any art stations of their choice in our studio, research and discover the capabilities of range or materials and tools available to them. The intention here is to open their minds to the various media which they could use, if they choose to, as a means of expression during their personal learning journey.

March/April: Envision and Create

As students further research their topic and are narrowing down their conclusions, all students have been involved in envisioning artworks that could communicate their desire for change. The 12th April marked the official opening of the PYPX Art Action Station (located outside the art studios), where students may work at times negotiated with their home room teacher, to create their art.

The creation of an art work is a choice. Not all students will be inclined to choose visual art to express ideas. Some may choose a performing art, or make use of technology, for example. The creation of an artwork is encouraged but not compulsory. It has been fabulous to see students choosing a wide range of art forms, to express their ideas.

PYP Attitudes/Attributes (Learner Profile)

Incorporated into all, is consideration of the PYP Learner Profile. Collaboration can be both rewarding and frustrating, as ideas sometimes clash. A strong sense of perseverance, compromise and acceptance is required and students are being encouraged to be responsible and caring in their approach to all. To date, Fifth Grade students have been demonstrating high levels of these qualities.


Reflection and evaluation comes quite naturally. The art room can be noisy at times,  as students are constantly engaged in talking to each other about what is working and what is not. Positive and constructive feedback is encouraged as they make collaborative decisions regards their next steps with the work. At the end of each lesson, time permitting, a whole class moment of reflection takes place, where students discuss challenges met, and any strategies they may be devising to overcome this.

Next Steps

Fifth Grade artists are now working rapidly. It has been amazing to see! For all of us, there are moments or great joy, and moments of disappointment. An artwork can be fabulous one minute, and ruined the next! Tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance, open mindedness, and perseverance are our words of the week!

Next Steps: Artist’s Statements

Students who have chosen to use artistic creativity as their means of expression, have one final task to complete. That is to upload a good photo of the art work to their group’s website, along with an Artists Statement. All students, regardless of whether they choose to add an art piece to the website, will be involved in the practise of writing an Artist Statement, in late April. 

Words of wisdom from the artist himself!

I am thrilled to share that the artist Benjamin Von Wong (creator of The Parting of the Plastic Seas, above) has contacted us and sent this year’s Fifth Grade students a personal message, with his words of wisdom, regarding writing, or speaking about their work. What an inspiration! I hope this will motivate AAS Penguin Artists in the creation of their artist statement. Herewith, some quotes from the artist himself!

“Tell them (your audience) something that is invisible. Something that motivated you. Something that shifted in your perspective. Something that you hope to shift, in other people’s perspective…. An example might be ‘I believe that my future is worth protecting, and I want others to understand the impact of their actions.” 

We are so grateful for Benjamin’s contribution and he looks forward to reading some statements from our aspiring artists and change makers! Thank you Benjamin Von Wong.

Well done to our Fifth Grade Students for their high levels of engagement in this unit. You are almost there! Good luck with your final steps!