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Clay -- classroom control - works in middle school


From: Judy Decker (Jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 07:19:51 PST

Thank you "brother Dennis" (like minds) --this is one time when whole-class
punishment is necessary --It usually only takes 5 minutes to find the
guilty one in a middle school classroom. Last year I had one boy who "took
the fall" for all who were throwing clay (Student never lost respect for
me -- I respected him more for his honesty -- I asked him if his friends
appreciated him -- he smiled).

Although my punishemnt is more severe for the guilty students. They are not
permitted back into my class until we are finished with the ceramic
project. I get 100% support from the administration on this one (this is
where our 95/45 room comes in handy). I do, however, allow the student to
come in after school to finish his/her project. Many take me up on it --
some don't and are satisfied with a failing grade for the unit.

From Dennis on throwing clay:

"Then when it happens the first time, wait until the next day and at the
beginning of class you remind the class about what you said and can point
the clay balls on the ceiling and walls. Tell the class to get out a sheet
binder paper and have them write an essay on why it is dangerous and
irresponsible to throw clay in ceramics class. Mention how some one could
hit in the eye, law suits, etc. Also, tell the class that in the essay, you
need to know who the culprit(s) is(are) so that he/she can get their two
suspension from class and the rest of the class can continue to work with
clay. Have all the clay and projects stored away and locked and students
know that you mean business.
    The offending student will usually stand up and admit his guilt or
it in his essay. At that point, you write a referral and the student goes
the A.P. for a two class suspension and the class moves on.
    Clay throwing is a killer for ceramics classes. It has to be stopped or
it will escalate and get worse as the year progresses. You have to be very
aware of your room and check the walls, ceiling, windows, even the TV set
the wall for clay balls after every class. Fortunately, 98% of students
to work with clay and don't want to jeopardize the opportunity to work with
it. So, you're using peer pressure to monitor the room. Works in high
probably would work in junior high as well.
    I don't usually believe in punishing a whole class for what one student
does, but in this case it works, especially if done at the beginning of the
year and it sets a precedent so students know it's a serious offense."