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Re: Clay with 30 kids

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From: marcia lavery (marciadotcom_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Mar 18 2004 - 16:42:43 PST


Hi Pam, I've only been teaching for about 2 years, but I've learned some good methods for clay organization. First of all, if I have a particularly "squirrely" class, I start off right away by saying, "Clay is a very special, expensive and messy art material. We are SO lucky to be in a school where we have the opportunity to work with it. That is why it is important to be responsible with it." I tell them from the first day if I see anyone throw clay, it is an automatic "major" (our school's system for discipline). On each table, I put the necessary tools for the day: usually a couple rolling pins, a stack of newspapers, a tin cup of tools, and a cup of slip. For clean up, each seat at the table has a color. Each color has a designated job: put away tools, wipe table, put away slip, throw away newspapers. (I have a chart with the colors on it and little laminated "clean up" tags that I attach to the chart with velcro== the best organization tool I ever used) No one can leave
 the table when the bell rings until all jobs are completed. Sometimes I will let the others go and keep the one kid behind to finish his/her job. At some tables there are 5 kids, and I have the leftover kids be my "special helpers".. I give them jobs such as "walk around the room and pick up any clay on the floor". We don't have a clay trap either (I end up plunging the sink about every other week). For clay work, all the kids really need is a plastic knife, fork and spoon which I buy cheaply from the grocery store. Plastic knife for cutting, fork for scoring and spoon for smoothing. I found when I bought the expensive "clay tools" from the catalog, they just get lost, broken or tossed away accidently anyways. The kids don't even need to clean the tools at the end of the class. They just kind of wipe them off and put them back in the cups. I found that works better, because clay tools don't need to be clean to work! It saves the time and hassle of having all those kids
 crowded around the sink. Sure, they get kind of dirty, but their hands will be super dirty anyways. At the end of the unit, I just throw away all the tools from the quarter and buy new ones (about a dollar or so for a package of plastic silverware). Oh, I do buy some of those wire scooping tools and sharper fettling knives, but I give them to kids on an "as needed" basis. Instead of a wire cutter I use a piece of yarn! I try to keep things as simple and cheap as possible. I haven't had a class of 30 (bless you, Pam) but I have classes of 27. Try to keep the clay projects for classes this size as simple and step by step as possible. For six grade I had an awesome clay house project but had to change it to a simple wall pocket pot, because my classes got too big and I couldn't give each child the attention they needed. Simple coil pots with decorations would be good too. I don't have a solution to the noise level problem.. I need help with that too sometimes!

Pam Smith <thinkart@hawaii.rr.com> wrote:HELP
I am not a new teacher, however, I am new to teaching art with 30+ kids in my classes. The last two years my biggest class was 24, most were under 20 (my GT class had 3). How do you keep order to teach 30 middle school kids to create good clay products. I don’t even have traps in my sinks so we have to put tubs in the sinks and dump them outside when they start to get full. It is hard for them to take responsibility, and do that. I would like to do more, but my classroom management seems to fall apart with clay. I was firm with them and haven’t had a problem with “hormonal related creations”, but there is clay everywhere and the noise level is almost unbearable. Do I accept that as part of the job? Maybe is just need to loosen up a bit.
Pam in Hawaii. ---

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