Sunday, May 14, 2017

Transitions in the Artroom: Hands-On Demo, pt. 2

In my first post about the hands-on demo part of your class structure, I explained how I got everyone in place and ready to learn - Whew!

Now it's time to start the demo - On my demo table, all the materials the kids will use that day are laid out. I have labels, if necessary, spelling the terms (and simple definitions) for the students so they connect the written word to the object - crayons, oil pastel, paintbrush, tooling foil, brayer, etc. Start your demo going over this media vocabulary as well as the terms for the technique/standard/principle/element that day. The final 30+ years of my teaching career was spent with a HIGH percentage of English Language Learners at school. Chances are the only place those kids are going to see some of these words are in your classroom! Have a word wall to post these words as you introduce them to your groups and keep the words up year-round. Categorize the vocabulary by grade level but you'll be exposing everyone!

If time permits, create step-by-step examples ahead of demos. I prefer to only introduce one step per class - by the time we make it through all the components of a class, there may be only 10 - 20 minutes of hands-on project time. Always review what was done in previous classes (because somebody has been absent or you gained a new student or two). These examples help in a pinch for those kids who show up on the last day of a six part/class project. Give them an example to finish and they can jump in & gain exposure to using the media while working alongside the others! Grades are optional if they did less than half the steps by themselves. It gives you a glimpse of their visual and listening skills - file the info away for future projects.

As a project approaches the end of the process or when you won't be introducing a new step, use the demo time to critique in-progress student work. Use student work from a different class. So, projects from A group in 5th grade are critiqued by B group in 5th grade. Choose 3 examples - 'A', 'B' and 'C' work. With each artwork, have students point out what's working and what needs improvement. Teach respectful comments and do NOT reveal the student names of the work being analyzed. The goal here is for students to reflect on their own work once it's passed out. Hopefully, they will use the discussion to guide their choices when completing their assignments.

When time's up for the demo, you need to quickly transition to the next activity - passing out supplies. After calling table helpers to the distribution area to wait for your directions, dismiss the standing students first - reminding them to walk to their places. Seated students go next once traffic clears then finally students at the demo tables put tables back into the correct area & everybody except helpers are seated in their places - Ta Da!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Transitions in the Art Room: Hands-On Demo, pt. 1

I hope you have enjoyed reading the previous installments in this 'Transitions' series so far and have found them useful in your classrooms. This post will tackle the use of hands-on demos in your class structure.

What it looks like: students in assigned places, hands n feet to self, eyes on teacher
What it sounds like: voices off unless responding to teacher, body quiet

I've taught in both large and small Art classrooms. The last place I taught in was a band room with cafeteria bench-style tables on wheels. Fortunately, it was a long-term sub position, only one morning a week, for 3 class periods - a kinder, a first grade and second grade. Sad to admit, but I never found a satisfactory solution (for me) to easily demonstrate for the whole class at one time. I had to settle for a front-of-the-room demo, followed by mini-demos at each bench when necessary or small groups of struggling students brought up front to work with me. Once they caught on to the technique, they returned to their seated group.

When I taught in a large classroom, I gathered standing students around 2 joined tables for an up-close view of materials and process. However, there were too many behavior interruptions due to the close quarters so that procedure was used sparingly.

Finally, I came up with a workable solution at my last school before retirement. The small classroom was a long rectangle, sinks and exit door at one end and my desk at the opposite end. The whiteboard and ActivBoard were located off-center on one of the long walls. I was determined to figure out a workable solution. I tried a few arrangements before I was successful but it was worth the wait!

In my past experiences, I had these issues:
1. Too much time was spent getting students quietly in place, and back to their places afterwards
2. Kids in close proximity to one another were often distracted and didn't learn much while observing
3. There were frequent interruptions when I had to address behavior issues

Here were my solutions...

To get kids quickly in place, I created and taught these routines:

- Table A n Table B were pushed together to form a square grouping by students seated at Table B while kids at Table A moved into their demo table assigned places. I taught this routine & re-taught as needed but really after about 3 times they had it down! Stress 'safely & quietly' when moving tables. Takes about 15 seconds once they learn.

- Assign kids to sit or stand on 3 sides of the combined table grouping. I get the 4th side of the grouping all to my sweet self! Put some thought into who goes where - correction - put a LOT of thought into this. Those who have major behavior issues are seated directly facing me, with buffers of no-problem kids between them. Moderate behavior issues are placed on the right or left side of me with buffers. Also, anyone with processing issues, sight or hearing issues are on your immediate right or left if possible. Everyone else stands behind the others. Seated kids bring chairs or stools with them.

- Once tables are in place, call over seated students QUICKLY in order from left to right or what works for you. Once they are in place, call out the standing kids in order QUICKLY. We practiced this until I could get everybody in place in ONE MINUTE or less. Yes - it's possible even when talking about THAT 5th grade group of 36. Practice, practice, practice! Students are not to be talking on their way over OR while waiting for everyone to get to their place. They can do this if you expect them to do this. Practice until they do - even if it means they run out of time and don't get to work on their project. Life lesson! It goes without saying that this seating arrangement should be written down and is separate from the group seating chart used for attendance and independent work. Call ALL names (even those who may be absent) so kids get used to hearing the names leading up to their own. Explain that to students.

- At this moment, you should have everybody in place and quiet. You need to immediately begin a quick focus activity to keep them that way. I taught the kids to do 'tap tap'. My signal is to hold up my two pointer fingers, say 'tap tap' and 'tap tap' dots with my pointer fingers in a synchronized, circular motion on my head around my ears while students do the same. You do these dots until ALL students are engaged. Do not be surprised if some kids can't do this. If necessary, practice & sometimes allow certain kids to do it with just one hand. Usually these are kids that have other developmental delays.

NOW you are ready to begin the actual demo. Once the kids have practiced this routine from start to finish, you should need less than 3 minutes from moving tables to end of 'tap tap'. Practice, practice, practice.

Next up - how to setup your actual demo!

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