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Re: Inspiring volunteers....

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From: linda (lindwood_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Sep 18 2002 - 05:15:30 PDT


Jenna,
We have such a docent program at my school. WE re in our 12th year, and
this year we had 60 plus docents sign up. Our training session is Friday
of this week. Many of our docents return year to year, so there is great
continuity in our program. We have a Chairperson for the program, picked
by the other art teacher and me, and we have team captains for each grade
level. Docents work in teams of two or three to prepare lessons to be
presented in the history classrooms. The Getty series of tapes on
Aesthetics, Studio practice, Art history, and one other, can't think what,
are good.
Especially the one on aesthetics and art history. WE encourage our
docents to watch those tapes as a grade level team. THe tapes show real
teachers with real children in the classroom or in a museum, discussing
art. They are good because they have a guide to go along with them that
tells them what has just happened in the film as they watch it, relating
to good teaching technique. THere are about 3 teachers per tape, I
believe. I think you will have to order the whole tape. WE are very
lucky in that we have a technology person who voluntarily teaches power
point classes to them. We tell them that their lesson needs to be about
50 percent student involvement, not just lecture. In our training session,
the chair and cochair, discuss the notebook with our docent team, the
heirarchy of the group (docent issues go through the team captain, not the
history teacher), team captains take care of scheduling for their grade
level, recruitment, and overseeing their group. In training, the chair
person takes them through the various sections of the notebook, which they
are all required to read. THe front sections deal with structure of the
program, curriculum for each grade listed, steps telling them how to
prepare a lesson, protocol for the classroom (calling on all children, not
just one or two, Docents calling each other "MRS..." not SUsie, etc. in
front of the children, making sure all can see, and so on. There is a
section on ELements and principles, some games to involve children in
discussion/activity, and a lengthy section on didactic questioning
techniques that follow the describe, analyze, interpret, judgement
scenario. In elementary school with these docents, your biggest challenge
is going to be to get them to LET GO of lecturing them and trying to cram
the whole renaissance into 40 minutes, for example, instead, using fewer
slides and opening the floor for discussion throughout the presentation.
We tell them that this is the FIRST experience these children are having
with chronologically presented art history that coincides with the time
periods they are studying. It won't be the LAST. WE have art history in
our upper school as a course. WE tell them that they MUST incorporate
discussion into every other or every third slide at minimum. I show them
in training how I pull information into my power point from the web, then
how I go back and edit descriptive text from the web, transforming the
information as much as possible into a leading discussion where children
are discovering what I want to tell them, rather than my lecturing to
them. We have a weblist for each grade level that can help them immensely
if they go the power point route, rather than slides. WE have TONS of
slides and posters, a room dedicated to them (albeit small), and operate
on VERY little money. WE had about three thousand dollars startup to buy
slides and notebooks and vertical files to hold lessons. Our parents are
well traveled and educated, and they are capable of doing incredible
things with them. WE encourage a follow up activity, whether it is a
small art project (hard to do in little time), or a game, or drawing, or
dramatic interp, making up a song, poem, etc. Anything to give the kids
some ownership of what they have just learned about. I am amazed every
year that we have so many parents who are so willing to work so HARD to be
in the classroom. It takes hours and hours. OUr curriculum has changed
in history several times in recent years, which means GIANT overhauls of
curriculum to be appropriate for the history teachers. WE have to
remember that we serve the history teachers with this program. THey are
giving up their class time for this. Each grade level has anywhere from
4 to 9 presentations a year. Some of our signups serve as tech liasons,
research assistants, and so on. Food is optional in the classroom, but is
only to be used if it really fits a lesson. The third graders get donuts
and donut holes for Henry Moore to remember positive and negative space in
his work, for example. One of the third grade lessons lets them build
sculpture with fruit and toothpicks, little marshmallows, etc. ANyway, it
is a LOT Of work for me and the other teacher, for the chair/cochair who
don't get paid for all fo their work, and of course, for the docents who
prepare and present these lessons. With so many parents involved, it is
natural that some presenters will be STELLAR, and others might be nervous
or less sure of themselves. It is the overal sum total of the program
that has kept it thriving in our school for so many years. It is just
amazing how much the kids learn. For our Greek lesson this year, kids
will look at Greek Vases following mythology in english and studying
Greece in History. Following the program, students will do a really great
activity. THere will be an 8 foot tall black paper vase mounted on the
wall as a backdrop. There will be a props box full of costume stuff. Kids
will enact scenes from mythology in front of the 8 foot tall black
amphora...thus becoming a living amphora. Pretty cool. I'm just amazed
at some of the things our docents think up...so much creativity.

Hope this helps.
LInda in Houston

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