>I interviewed for a high school art position on Friday and got a
>call to come back on Monday to teach a 15 minute lesson on Balance I
>can teach any aspect of the concept that I want. The class is a
>studio art class of 26 students (all 9th graders), they already sit
>in a group setting at tables. I don't know exactly what they will be
>looking for but I suppose the usual, control of the class students
>engaged in the lesson........ but 15 minutes is not very long. I
>have a few ideas but wanted to tap the great ideas generated from
>Thanks, Marsha ---
Below are the things I think that I would do. I realize it may be
too late for you if today is the Monday. I missed seeing your note
earlier. So good luck with whatever you do. I will still send this
for the group to think about.
If they are at tables, never talk or discuss until every student is
turned and facing you.
If I were doing this in 15 minutes, I would start with hands-on
practice by the students.
1. Each student picks up a packet as they enter. Each folder
contains the same assortment of 20 or so black and grey shapes
(narrow strips for lines, geometric and organic shapes) and three
pieces of white paper that are 5 x 7 inches each, but no glue and no
2. Tell them that this is practice and their composition is being
used for learning - they are important, but not to be graded. Tell
them that there are many good ways to do it. Ask them to start
immediately to arrange two 5 x 7 compositions giving them no more
than 2 minute for each. One is to show formal (symmetrical) and the
other is to be informal (asymmetrical) balance. Tell them to be as
expressive and original as they can with what they have to work with.
They may fold and tear the paper if they want to. If students have
questions about the definition of terms, see if another student would
like to answer the question or speculate on an answer.
3. When the two minutes are up, stop them. Ask them to look at
people's compositions at their tables without talking. Ask them to
see if they think others used the same or a different way of thinking
as they worked?
4. Have all turn their chairs and face forward. Make two headings
on the board. One says, How Does Formal Balance Feel Different than
Informal Balance? The other says, How to Make an Expressive and
Balanced Composition. Tell them to take notes on their third sheet
of white paper copying only what they think are the main points from
the board as we talk. Complete sentences are not needed - just
important words and ideas. Tell them that their notes will be handed
in to their regular teacher at the end the discussion.
5. Ask them for any ideas that they have to list on the board. How
does each kind of balance feel? What helps them decide how to
arrange the shapes when they are trying to make an expressive
composition of shapes. Ask them questions and jot down their answers
to form a list of criteria for good balanced compositions. When the
list is getting long, see if anything is missing. Ask for their
ideas for importance and underline ideas that seem most important.
Circle or bold face the ones that are really really important.
When I plan an art discussion I prepare my own list. My list helps
me prepare my question list. However, I never show my list, and I
only add my points if the students miss something that I think is
very essential. I want the students to learn that they have good
minds. They need to learn that can think of great things based on
their own obersvations and experiences. I as the teacher need to
encourage vigorous habits of thinking. I do not believe the world
will get better when people learn to follow other people just because
the other people seem smart or attractive. I think the world will
get better when people have minds that think, figure things out, and
make good choices. To do this it is essential that I refrain from
telling too many of my ideas too soon. My ideas must come at the end
- not at the beginning. Often this closure is merely an exciting
affirmation of what they have already told me. "Wow. What a good
class you are!"
6. When the time is up, I would put up something like two Georgia
O'Keefe posters. One would be symmetrical and one informal. I would
ask them to flip over their note paper and jot down one thing that
they learned today, put their name on it and give you their papers
and their packets. You and your evaluators can look at them. The
regular teacher can give the notes back to them at the class session.