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Re: [teacherartexchange] Second week...


Date: Mon Aug 22 2005 - 18:51:35 PDT

Stacie, my situation is very different from yours, so my observations
may not be applicable to your situation. I teach one class of middle
school kids (in 4 rotations through the year) and the rest of the time I
teach HS students. I really, really prefer HS because even with my
small classes, it only takes one or two middlers to derail the whole
group--such a silly, energetic age (but fun, too).

Our art rotations are graded only on a pass/fail basis and I spend very,
very little time lecturing. They may have an occasional homework
assignment, but that's rare. I don't have this group keep a sketchbook,
either. For the most part everything is very hands-on, and most art
theory stuff is saved for Art I. My goal is to encourage creativity,
develop skills, build confidence and introduce them to a variety of art

What's worked best for me (since I have mixed grades in my classes) is
to develop a theme each year. I "lecture" briefly about the nature of
the theme, give an overview of the projects, and get them working pretty
quickly. I'll often have them write a paragraph or two when they
complete their project and we'll sometimes do group critiques.

Previous themes have included "A World Tour of Art" (focusing on
projects from around the world), "A Timeline of Art" (starting with
charcoal drawings of animal skulls--which they think are way cool and
creepy--and hand prints) and working our way through the ages doing
projects. This year the theme is "Art in the Style of the Artists" and
crazy or not, we're going to start with a project related to Oldenburg
to make (reasonably) supersized papier-mache' objects.

My first day back was today (for meetings), then we'll have new
international student orientation early next week, new student
registration and orientation and then finally returning student
registration. Our classes don't start until September 1. On the first
day of class I'll introduce myself, go over rules, have them fill out an
interest questionnaire and creatively decorate a name tag for their
cubby. On day 2 I'll launch into an overview of the theme, show them
pics of Oldenburg's work and have them start brainstorming and drawing
possible subject matter. They'll be constructing by day 3. (I do have
a reading assignment for them about Oldenburg--with "thinking
questions"--but that will be classwork on day 2.)

When an individual is misbehaving, I'm fortunate enough to have a big
space and I can move the kid to another part of the room. I tell them
(first day) that there are times when they might need to work by
themselves for a while, and sometimes kids choose to give themselves a
"time out" by working alone. When I have to "send" them to work by
themselves, I try to be very low-key and matter of fact about it and
add--"When you feel you're ready to rejoin the group, let me know." I
think I read that you've got a really overcrowded classroom. That
really makes it difficult.

On a few occasions when the whole group has been nutso, I've told them
to put away projects and I've gotten out some copies of school arts
magazines or whatever that we read as a group. I don't use art history
or reading as "punishment" and it doesn't really come across that way,
especially because I tell them that this is one of the things we do
(reading) if they're having a hard time settling into working well. I
try to have some interesting issues set aside for days like that and
it's usually enjoyable. That's the only time that the whole class gets
caught up in a major "redirection"--most of the time I isolate and try
to redirect the individual offenders.

When a kid is REALLY going off (and that's quite rare) I've got
excellent back up through the structure of our school. If I have to
"write a kid up," they know they're going to get demerits that can only
be WORKED off--by picking up trash, sweeping the stairs, etc. I don't
assign the demerits--our school disciplinarian does that--but the kids
know there are definite consequences for misbehavior.

Again, my school is very different (small, private, boarding and day)
and generally the kids are pretty good. I've found, though, that 8th
grade boys, in particular, are the most challenging, and it sounds like
you've got a lot of them.....

Sharon <> <>
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