With support from Rio Tinto Iron Ore, The Song Room’s first ever Blended Learning program, PilbarAlive commenced in March at Rio Tinto’s three inland Pilbara communities in Western Australia.
The Blended Learning program is a blend of face-to-face Teaching Artist intensive workshops to facilitate classroom and online arts learning, coupled with training and professional learning for teachers as well as remote support of the program through the use of The Song Room ARTS:LIVE resources and ‘virtual classroom’.
After extensive planning and a Perth-based trial of the virtual classroom, Teaching Artist Fleur Hockey delivered a three week intensive workshop program to three inland Pilbara schools. Fleur spent one week at each of the participating schools, North Tom Price PS, Tom Price PS and Paraburdoo PS, training the teachers in the use of the ARTS:LIVE resources and the virtual classroom as well as delivering a range of hands-on arts workshops across each school.
Throughout the program Fleur is engaging with 12 teachers across the three schools to deliver a semester long program in the curriculum-aligned art form of their choice. Each teacher spent time planning the program with Fleur, tailoring the ARTS:LIVE resources to the needs of their students, setting up the virtual classrooms and developing the teachers’ understanding of the ARTS:LIVE interactive platform, as well as joining Fleur in the delivery of hands-on workshops to begin their program.
A wide variety of art forms are being explored in this project including hip-hop dance, drama, junk percussion, stop motion animation, soundscape design and mask making and mask performance, the latter proving so popular that over 400 papier-mach√© masks will be made across all schools by the end of this project.
These masks will be used in Tom Price’s ‘Nameless/Jarndunmunha Festival’, a week-long street festival held each August in Tom Price. Each class that has participated in this program will perform in the festival which culminates in a procession where the children will proudly wear the masks they’ve made.
One of the many highlights of Fleur’s time in the Pilbara has been the lunch time hip-hop workshops that she delivered daily at each school. Students from all grades were welcome to voluntarily attend these workshops and the response was enormous, with hundreds of students getting involved. Fleur was often swamped by parents on arrival at the schools each morning who wanted to find out how the hip-hop workshops could become a permanent feature at their schools.
Upon Fleur’s return to Perth, the second part of the project, the ‘Post Intensive Remote Support Program’ has begun with Fleur supporting the teachers via weekly phone calls as well as via the virtual classrooms to support them as they deliver their pre-planned ARTS:LIVE program.