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Re: [teacherartexchange] high school ceramics questions: beginning the year off right


From: Mikel Lee (mikellee31_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Aug 08 2006 - 17:56:19 PDT

D'oh.. I just wrote this really long reply with all
the answers to the clay universe and then I deleted
it!! So now you get this reply instead!

When I taught Ceramics I, II to grades 9-12 I learned
to lay back and go with the flow. It was a very
rewarding experience and my students really responded
well to the studio environment and produced excellent

Don't get too academic with the history of clay and
long vocabulary lists all at once. Break it up into
brief 5 minute blurbs that they can look at during the
beginning of class... or have a different question on
each table with the resource to find the answer...make
them find the answer and present it when you are done
with attendance. They really get lectured and note
taken way toooooo much in high school. I had them
keep a folder with pockets and brads for papers,
notes,and sketches, etc. that stayed in my room. Also,
as you make them use the proper vocab while
working...they will learn it all that way.

On the first day just go over the rules, the
procedures... the properties of clay.... your
expectations for their work...when the shows and
scholarship opportunities are...Maybe play the pass
the clay game...that is a lot of fun...until you end
up with boobs and cigars or all the pieces...Oh and
lets not forget the first penis sculpture of the
year..just get ready for it and then don't make a big
deal of it or you will have them all year sometimes
showing up in weird places like your desk! Also, if
you are not familiar with bongs and pipes you might
want to get educated so that your class does not
become paraphernalia 101.
As you learn their names and they know the procedures
it might be nice to just let them come in and get to

I tried due dates at first and quickly threw that idea
out because they all worked at different speeds. Some
were very meticulous and some prolific and some just
slow. So, they were all never on the same page. I
introduced techniques about every 2 weeks... I saw
them every other day.... and they had to make their
work with the technique...and then they could combine
the new technique with the previous technique. I would
introduce the wheel early so that they can rotate who
gets to work when... I had critiques 2-3 x's per
grading period.. They were graded on the work they
brought to critique and their daily participation
grade. Critiques were never negative, just a time for
them to explain their methods, their problems and
success and future plans. Kids sometimes asked
questions and I always did.

I made everyone clean up after themselves and each
table was responsible for their group... So if they
weren't ready they all stayed when the bell rang. I
also counted all of the special tools and checked
their table boxes before they were considered ready.

You won't have the same problems with this class for
the early finishers because you are only working with
clay...So, they just start something else. And if they
aren't motivated to do so then there are a ton of
chores to be done in a pottery class. Clay to reclaim,
canvases to scrape, tools to wash, clay to wedge, and
on and on... That will make them interested in their
work again!

If you want to make a poster with the "golden rules of
clay" like the one on Incredible Art Department... or
a reminder for clean up or what to do with finished
work or works in progress those will all be great..

Don't be too nervous. Clay is a magical thing and the
kids love to work with it. Just let them have fun
creating and you have fun too. - Mikel

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