Where's your head at?

Project based learning, thinking on learning and amazing Art projects

February 24, 2013
by Pete Jones

The Creative Timeline

Ok, so we have just finished the third major project for Pebble, ‘The Creative Timeline’ asks students to delve into their own memories of their lives so far and use this as a stimulus for creating some brilliant conceptual artwork. As ever, the week before the project starts proper, the students unpick, explore and understand the PLTS we are focusing in for the next project. Funnily enough, it was ‘Creative Thinker’. We used Ben Keeling’s book as way in for students to look at some of the skills needed to be an effective creative thinker. (Link for the resources for this skills week project here.) Here are my classes results.

3 post-it notes to improve learning at our school


I guess the most important part of a skills week is to agree on a common language for that skill. This is individual to each group and is assessed in their passports, which I spoke about here. The Friday session, where we learn from the actual activity helps students begin to understand their strenghts and weaknesses in each PLTS.

Students started the process of exploring how to create something of real value by looking at descriptive writing. Students investigated an excerpt from Dickens and analysed the imagery used to ‘paint the picture’ of the scene. They were brilliant at this. It really helped with the next stage. Students were then shown a range of visually rich images, such as a fairground, a haunted house, you know the sort of thing. Then they had to fill in the box below to start to describe what they could see.

Things you can see Things you can hear Things you can smell
Things you can touch Things you can taste How does it make you feel?

Then students used their list to create a short descriptive story about what they thought was going on in this scene. From this, students were then asked to explore one of their earliest memories, using their understanding. End of the first session.

Carousel  Activity.

Onomatopoeia writing about journey on the boat to come and live in Jersey

Differentiated worksheets, here looking at calligrams and visual story telling

every 20 minutes, we moved tables and shared our writing

On the Friday, students were then asked to explore a range of different writing styles, which might suit particular memories better than others. Folders of differentiated resources were placed on tables and students moved onto different writing and artistic tables to begin to build up their understanding of the different approaches open to them.



Over the next two sessions, students developed their writing, created a simple timeline of their most profound memories and begun to think about what they might create for their own timeline. Then, with a great deal of freedom and some examples of beautiful work from last years students, and my own monster version (I am quite a lot older than them=more memories) and the co-constructed rubric of what would achieve a Pass, Merit and Distinction, off they jolly well went. They had two weeks of lessons (10 hours) to create their marvelous (or not) final products. Some students set themsleves incredibly challenging ideas, which, due to extraordinary dilligence and clearly countless hours outside of the lesson came to fruition. To be able to judge their work, students had to have a deep explanation into their decision making process. Colour, texture, writing style, font, size, material, everything had to be considered. Throughout the process, students explored the skill of the creative thinker. The ability to have divergent ideas, to play with ideas, to be inspired by others, to create work of depth and value, to take risks and to find new ways of solving problems. This project certainly delivered on this. As for the results, well, for Year 8, it’s pretty good, some were excpetional.

This students dad recently died after a long battle with cancer. He cricled words to create a very moving, personal obituary to his dad.

He included a copy of Ziggy Stardust, to be played whilst reading the newspaper. He included a box stuffed with obituaries from the local paper and a concrete poem entitled, Dad.

A student came up with the idea of creating a magical staircase to a bedroom of wonderful memories, at the bottom, locked away, were her sad memories, in the cupboard under the stairs.

complete with bunk bed and carpet. An amazing use of different writing styles on this one.

Detail of the veins in the heart of the day her mother suffered a heart attack

There were many more truly brilliant pieces of work, but my computer is taking a STUPID amount of time to upload images at the moment. Students were invited into each others classrooms to comment on their work. This was done with great respect. Students were moved by each others profound events and inspired by the creative efforts of their peers. The best work from each class was then selected for exhibition.

the lost cat! Poem wrapped around the body.

complex idea, full of emotive writing

holiday of a lifetime in Mexico, using jam jars

exhibition coming together

a mish mash of marvelous memories!

catching memories

The resources for this project, if you are interested in adapting for your own school are here. Thanks for reading.

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