1. You have an amazing age range which probably seems much larger than it is
because of what I assume are lots of discipline problems.
2. Regarding pre-made curricula: there are all sorts of textbooks and stuff
out there but as we are all finding out "one size does not fit all"
especially in the arts. I use the texts as a reference but find that their path has
never suited my students.
3. I have known some wonderful art teachers who did not have the education
background--they were wonderful because they thought like artists and were
able to bring that into the classroom. So do not sell yourself short. Many of
my education courses were less than satisfactory. I would teach: painting.
drawing. sculpture. collage. period. What is the very least you need to tell
students to get them drawing? I borrowed Pauline Joseph's summary for the
first day of choice: a. some artists draw what they can see b. some draw what
they remember c. some draw what they imagine d. some draw emotions e. some make
marks with a tool (non objective) In a room with some still life objects
(animal models, sea shells, etc etc), paper, markers, pencils, rulers,
templates, eraser, colored pencils I then turn them loose to explore mark making tools.
It is important to stress that photo-realistic drawing is not the only
acceptable art. On the first painting day I demonstrate wetting the watercolors,
using the proper paper, keeping colors clean, experimenting with
brushstrokes, etc. And these experiments can all be kept and can give you an idea of
where these kids are ability-wise. At risk kids often see themselves as
losers--school has often taught them that they are...if your room becomes a safe
place because 1. no one will make fun of their art and 2. rules will be fair and
protect everybody, it might help.
4. Crowd control is essential however! I found that the students were
really wanting to get their hands on those cool art supplies and their ticket of
admission was their total attention for the first five minutes of class. I
tell them just enough to get them working and then circulate and do a lot of face
to face teaching. One of the things that at risk students are not so good
at, often, is listening to one more adult telling them what to do.
5. If the art room could be set up with drawing, painting and collage
materials, always in the same place, always the same rules, then sometimes students
could just come in and get to work. This would make those silly 30 minute time
slots more productive. Materials put away by each student, each student
accountable. Students who join the class after materials have been introduced can
be coached by students using those materials. (good for self esteem also)
6. I wouldn't worry about NCLB right now. Get your sea legs first and get
to know the kids and the kind of art which excites them (cartooning? anime?
clothing design? graffitti art and font design? clay? textiles? )
This is disjointed; if you are interested in running a choice studio program
the details (tons of them) are on the knowledgeloom which you already have.
It is a way of letting students work where they feel the most confidence, help
their peers and gain the confidence to try other art that they see being made
by their friends.
keep in touch,