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Re: middle school teachers

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lindwood_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Wed Feb 26 2003 - 04:57:13 PST


I teach so much drawing in lower school that my middle schoolers in 6th
grade are DYING for more 3-D, so my entire focus in 6th is 3D. I teach
metalsmithing to them, which is something they have never done before.
They make a pin and a bracelet, both etched. This next quarter, they
will get to use jeweler's saws for the first time to cut out their own
shapes, as in the past, they used squares for their pins and bracelet
strips provided by me. Ths time, I'm going to let them cut out an
animal shape to etch as a pin. We'll anneal them (soften the metal with
a torch), and they can bend the ears and tail a little, and I'll give
them the option of making the neck a liittle extra long so that they
could bend the head around if they want, like the animal is looking back
over it's shoulder, thus adding more dimension. I also plan to let them
learn to rivet two shapes together for a in or pendant. One shape will
probably be high polished in the tumbler, the other shape will be etched
and satin finish. They will still make the 1.5 inch wide etched
bracelet. The metals part of the class takes about half of the term.
Following that, I let them choose the type of clay project that they
want to do. Usually they choose from a pair of shoes, a mask, a clay
house or birdhouse, clay food, or a ceramic animal made from pinch pots
pieced together and other shapes added on. I agree, that they LOVE the
fact that you let them choose, and they ARE more productive and
responsible as a result. As far as the metals not being choice, they
are all so psyched about something so beautiful and so new that they all
want to do it. I also take a survey in the beginning to find out what
they feel they can't do to their satisfaction but wish they had more
teaching to learn further skills. I ask them what their favorite
projects have been in the past, what they are the most proud of, what
they collect (if anything), if they like to draw or make art outside of
school, and what their frustrations are in art. I also ask them to tell
me something interesting about themselves that I would not know just by
looking. They also tell me which clay project they choose on the list,
so I can prepare a power point and/or discussion with the selected
options from the whole class ahead of the project. For the shoes
project, I use the Metropolitan shoes book, for the masks, I show a
power point of various masks, for the houses, I have a picture file with
a variety of house styles and the architectural dictionary site, for the
food, I have gourmet magazines, dessert cookbooks, etc., for the ceramic
animals project, I have gargoyles in a file, as well as the work of Mary
Frank, Remington, and a local clay artist who makes awesome heads from
clay. I want to think of a few more for the clay animal focus. In the
end, I totally agree, the more choice students have at any age level,
the more they buy into it. I try to allow some choice in the lower
grades, as well.

Linda

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