From reading the posts on this list for a lot of years I can comment
that many of the posts have been asking how to get students to the
point where they will continue working for extended periods. When you
change the activity within the project, as it appears that you do, they
can maintain interest. Several of my former students who are earning a
good living in the arts told me that one of the most valuable skills I
taught them in elementary and middle level was to work through the
blocks and stick to a project to completion. They discovered when they
arrived in art schools that there were many art students who struggled
with this and in their words, "gave them an advantage because they were
used to the difficulties of working to completion".
This is a skill that is essential to succeed in life in general and you
are teaching your students a very valuable skill.
Every once in a while I would slip a short project between that just
skimmed the surface so the students had a wide variety of experiences
and then follow up with another multilayered projects. Balance is the
key but how to achieve it is one of the BIG QUESTIONS! I tried to
schedule one complex multilayered project a marking period interspersed
with activities that provided immediate success.
Congratulate yourself that you have achieved a teaching strategy that
many teachers struggle with and that you are skilled at guiding your
students through complex projects.
Sharon ~ NJ
On Wednesday, May 26, 2004, at 07:55 AM, Hillmer, Jan wrote:
From: "Hillmer, Jan" <HillmJan@Berkeleyprep.org>
How long do projects generally take in your classes? I have el. ed,
and find that my projects, esp. for 4th and 5th grade last for 6 weeks
or more. Now, when I look back,
I wonder if the kids would be better served by shorter projects.
Probably, the choice of projects is a mixture of thematic ideas from
thier classroom, along with extended work in order to do the project
with a certail degree of skill. We spent around 6 weeks (an hour a
week) on calligraphy, and even longer on weaving little pouches. The
5th grade spent over six weeks on a larger watercolor - planning the
composition, learning color mixing, etc. A portion of each day was
used on sketchbook assignments sometimes tied to the assignment,
sometimes not. The students don't complain, but sometimes I think I
see their interest lag.
In 2nd and 3rd grades, the projects also generally last more than one
class period - usually 2-4 classes, 1 hour a week.
Suggestions? Ideas? It always seems like we could have done so much
more, but my memories of each class are that we used our time fully.