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Re: middle school instructional time

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lindwood_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Sat Mar 22 2003 - 06:26:41 PST


My school has a rotation of dance, music, theater, and art for our
middle schoolers. They take one quarter of each subject for 4 days a
week, 45 minute periods. I like it in a way because I see fewer kids
per quarter, and I can do some bigger projects with them space-wise or
$$ wise. We have seven sections of sixth graders, with about 13-16 kids
per section. I am able to teach metals to my students because there are
fewer of them, I can handle their needs, supervise them well. IF I had
the usual 20 kids per class, as in lower school, I would not attempt
what I am doing with my metals class. Actually, they get a semester's
worth of art time in each section, as they would normally only get 80
minutes per week per quarter. Now they are getting 160 minutes per week
for one quarter. I think it's good that they are also being exposed to
dance (boys and girls), theater, and music. Those who choose to play an
instrument or sing in choir do that in an extracurricular way in 6th and
7th, but in 8th grade, after two years of the rotation, they can choose
an ensemble, dance group, choir, band, orchestra, or a year of art. I
do agree with you that they get less time in art with only one semester,
but in my case, I've been able to make lemonade out of that lemon by
doing something with them that I would not normally get to do otherwise
(my metals class). I have also done some colossal ceramics projects
with them....lots of slab building...houses, mixed media masks, large
papier mache projects, and so on. I mentioned earlier that there are 7
sections of them. We have one full time MS teacher who teaches all of
7th and 8th, as well as 3 sections of 6th. That gives him a full
schedule, as he also has a homeroom and does MS art club. The other art
teacher in LS and I pick up the remaining 4 sections, which is great for
us, as we enjoy having the older kids in smaller classes than we
normally experience. I have taught the other LS teacher how to do the
metals work, as well, so her sections also get to do metals. They LOVE
that. I wish the real MS teacher would want to learn what we do in
metals, as the kids who don't have our metals classes often mention to
me that they wish they had that opportunity. However, he does some
incredible ceramics projects with them....they build HUGE clay
houses....about a foot square on the base, and victorian or Georgian
styling. So, in the end, I think it is a good thing to have the
rotation and expose them to two additional arts (dance, theater) that
they don't get in lower school. When they are in 8th or high school
(following a required fundamentals of art class in HS) they can
specialize in one of the arts if they choose to. At least they have had
the opportunity to experience theater and dance before they have to make
that choice. Hope this makes sense.

Linda

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