This is in response to Jim's note about working w/ 7th & 8th grade art students...
Your idea about having 2 different art activities is a good one. I also teach that level. Have been for over 30 years. Try to develop lessons that allow for personal choices and expression. You have to grab their attention with lessons that can have meaning to them. I am researching artists/styles and movements all the time. Make art come alive for them and it will be an easier time for you.
I do a multitude of topics that cover all types of painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking etc. I try to coordinate units using media, the elements and principles of art/design in each along with a few different representative artists.
You need to connect art to them in some way. Make it personal for them.
If you'd like, I would be happy to share some of my ideas with you down the road. If you wish, you can send me some of your unit ideas and we can hash a few things out.
Just so you know, I have periods that are 72 minutes long, so I understand the need to "keep them on task".
It will also help you a great deal if you personally express yourself within each unit. Show your personal interest...that may help too. Showing your energy with your students can make a difference.
I am from the old school and have based my teaching on the simple fact that my students can always do better. With that in mind, you need to foster their work ethic in art. Students come to me everyday with their work and tell me they are "done". I have to be ready to conference with each of them and offer individual help and ideas in order to help them make their work better. I always try to give them a number of options...Don't give them the "right" answer. There are always so many different approaches to a problem.
This will help make them independent learners. I often send students back to the "drawing table" many times, but I never do their work for them. Nor do I draw or work on their assignments!
I can also recommend a number of books for you to order that will spark your own creativity as an art teacher. That is important! You need to apply as much creativity to your teaching as you would in your own art work.
Finally, don't be afraid to talk with their other subject teachers. You will find many avenues for art units simply based upon what other teachers are teaching...talk to the LA teachers, science, Spanish and social study teachers. There are always connections....Good Luck,
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