It was always our intention that future opera projects would initiate a series of cross-curricular activities to engage the whole school. The 2018 theme of Water in the Desert: A Zayed Legacy, has worked particularly well in this regard, as it embraces the Year of Zayed and Emirati cultural heritage as well as water-related environmental issues.
With this as a backdrop, teaching staff galvanised behind the project and got to work crafting project ideas. They availed of the opera composer and librettist and also worked with our other project partners, Lest We Forget and Goumbook-your green connection, to run workshops and presentations designed to inspire and inform.
Lest We Forget is a fascinating archival group that explores and captures tangible and intangible culture through memory, reflection, research and artistic expression, while Goumbook is a social enterprise dedicated to raising awareness on sustainability and green living with a particular focus on water management.
Dr Michele Bambling, Creative Director at Lest we Forget, spoke to Year 3 and 4 pupils about how she and her team go about capturing and archiving cultural history. Pupils were introduced to the beautiful books the team have created which helped them realise the power of sharing memories through photography and storytelling. Pupils will now go on to create their own version of a Lest we Forget-style book, using their own family memories, photographs and art work. The workshop ended with the pupils creating large scale freeze frames depicting some of the images that Dr Bambling had focused on and explained.
These young Cranleighans have also been learning about water as part of their Science lessons. In particular, they have been focusing on water consumption in the production of everyday items such as t-shirts and coffee while in Art, they have made lovely water gratitude cards.
Year 5 and Year 8 pupils attended environmental sessions with Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder and Managing Director of Goumbook. Tatiana shared her insights into the dangers facing the planet and the UAE in particular, sharing shocking statistics about our water footprint and the implications for us all if we don’t change our behaviours. She focused particularly on the misuse of plastic.
Between now and the end of term, Year 5s will build out their understanding of the history of water in the desert, learning more about the falaj system of irrigation and Sheikh Zayed’s vision for sustainable agriculture. They will then investigate how the traditional falaj system could be modernised and create prototypes for display.
Year 8 pupils will take their new environmental knowledge and use it as context for their cross-curricular challenge which is to build and present a plan for how they would develop a portion of the mangroves for ecotourism. They will be looking at water conservation issues as they create a proposal that gives them the opportunity to consider all aspects of an eco-resort including accommodation, Abu Dhabi’s reputation, multi culturalism, tolerance, heritage, health and safety, promotional materials and budget. In addition, students will have a chance to manufacture promotional materials such as souvenirs in DT and devise educational games in Science.
Tatiana also laid down an extra challenge for the Year 8s; to create a radio advert to promote Goumbook’s “Drop it Youth” campaign on the talk radio station, Dubai Eye. Students have been working on their ads this week in English and early feedback is that we have some budding advertising executives in our midst!
The Year 6 Water in the Desert challenge was launched through a story telling collaboration with Year 2s, when they talked to the younger pupils to find out what they already knew about water, the desert and Sheikh Zayed. The Year 2 children asked lots of interesting questions and really helped to get the Year 6s thinking before their interactive workshop on story telling techniques with Peter Cant the opera librettist, and its composer Hannah Conway. This week, pupils have been crafting their own stories in Humanities lessons which they will perform for Year 2 during the final week of term.
Dr Michele Bambling from Lest We Forget has also been working with the Year 7s, coaching them on how to archive, preserve and share photographs and oral histories. Their project is on Identity, and will see them examine and reflect on their own lives in the UAE.
And finally, in Year 9 students are working with the idea of water saving innovations in architecture and buildings. They started with a water survey of the school buildings, developing the work already done by the school Environmental Club – EcoWarriors. The data gathered will be analysed and further research carried out to plan and design water conserving buildings, using software in ICT and with opportunities to create 3D models and floor plans. The students will then brand and market their development, before pitching it to the imaginary authorities on the last day of the project.