Perhaps you could have the students work on "concept development."
Most students do not attempt to design their fiber or clay and other three
dimensional work in a meaningful way prior to actually digging into the
I am a metal worker. I have taught jewelry and metalsmithing classes for six
years in the past at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. One of the
things that I always stressed with my students is the need to develop ideas
in advance on paper and at times with three dimensional modeling. The time to
work out basic proportioning and detail is in advance. That is when changes
can happen. Forcing oneself and ones students to conceptualize what it is you
will create and put that down on paper is a great way to develop ideas more
fully before hand is put to clay or hammer is put to metal or fiber to loom.
Given some guidelines as to what materials and techniques will be used the
students should then be able to work out possible design variations. When
they get into the studio to realize their visions three dimensionally they
need not slavishly stick to the ideas they had but they will be that much
closer to coming up with truly meaningful pieces. The student teacher
connection is much more complete when there is at least a visual goal to head
toward that enables input at an early stage.
The student's ideas can be developed in a sketch book or on loose paper
corralled in a folder. The importance should be placed on getting ideas down
on paper, discussing them, tweaking them, changing them, saving them and
ultimately realizing them three dimensionally.
I am not sure what age group you are working with but I think that a healthy
dose of preplanning would help most art classes at all levels. It takes it
out of the realm of spontaneous regurgitation and brings it on to a level of
design and planning.
Best of luck with your year, it sounds like you will be very happy in your
PS: Type in Robert Oppecker on a Google web search and you will come up with
a number of hits to direct you to my work if you so desire.