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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Presenting Your Lessons

Blogger Katie said...
Can I ask how you present your art projects? Do you have a finished picture to show the kids so they have an idea of what you want from them, or do you just explain it and let them create?

That is a great question.  It depends on the project. 
I almost always will demonstrate steps to a project.  
Many times I don't have a finished picture to show them.

Right now, my 5th/6th graders (we have combined grade level classes.. which is a whole other blog post I could write to explain how that works) are working on these radial name designs.

When I demonstrated this project, I showed them a powerpoint slideshow about Islamic artwork and emphasized the repeating geometric patterns.

Then I sat down with the kids surrounding me and showed them how to fold the paper.  (You can see the steps in the original blog post) I demonstrated how to draw my name within a triangle.  Then, I set the kids off to work on that step. 

I have found that for me, it works best to break down the projects into small steps so there are not too many directions to remember. 

When several of the kids started to finish that step, I brought them back to the demonstration table and I showed them how to outline their name in sharpie and how to fold it and trace the image on a light table (last year I used carbon paper and this year I decided to use light tables, which was much easier).  That was the first class of this project.  If kids finished early, the could free draw for their sketchbooks.  I don't usually let kids go on ahead to the next step, because if there are more directions I want to explain them all thoroughly to the whole class before letting them start.

During the second class I explained and showed them how to color each of the sections and how to use the Crayola color switcher markers.  For this project, I did have a finished example to show them, but I felt that these projects always turn out so different that I didn't need to worry too much about copycat pictures.

Pretty much I ALWAYS demonstrate when possible.  I find that when I just explain something with words there is usually confusion. 

Even if it's something simple like how to color in neatly, I find that it will prevent a lot of questions or rushed work.  When I do a project with the younger classes, I always remind and review how to glue with a glue stick or bottle.  I demonstrate how to apply the glue to the back of what you want to glue and how to smooth it flat.

Sometimes I will show things on the white board while standing in front, but usually it is best to have the kids all around me so I can easily make sure they are all paying attention.  

Sometimes it helps to have a finished example, but then I notice that sometimes kids will end up copying things from the example.  When I demonstrate I try to talk them through many different options or ways to approach the project.

So, what do you do?  How do you present your lessons?  
Do you usually have an example to show the kids?


Phyl said...

I almost always demonstrated and broke things into steps, too.

Whether or not to have an example to show depended on what activity we were doing. Lots do times kids will copy a sample, so I often would show some finished samples AND THEN REMOVE THE SAMPLES so the kids couldn't resort to copying. But on the flip side, showing a completed sample shows the level of craftsmanship etc that I would expect. I think that can be important.

On the other hand, sometimes it's fun if the kids have no expectation about what it 'should' look like when done. For example, when doing open-ended lessons that require a lot of creative problem solving and not one clear result or answer expected.

Elizabeth - Dream Painters said...

Like you I approach each lesson according to what we're doing, but always bringing them back for mini-demonstrations throughout. With prep to year 7 kids in each class I provide loads of scaffolding for those that need it and lots of open ended opportunities for the more confident ones (not always the oldest!) This week for example I will be showing a finished example - but only after they have mapped out their composition, so they will (hopefully) be inspired by the use of color layering/ blending without copying.

Nancie Kay said...

When introducing a new project, I usually do a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation if it is based on cultural art, elements & principles or a specific artist. That's followed by a hands-on demo of first steps. In subsequent classes, I will use my examples as well as student examples from another class to compare and contrast the work - what's good, what needs improvement. Hopefully the discussion will help them judge the quality of their own work and make needed improvements when necessary. Then I go on with demonstrating directions for the next steps.
Since my classes are only 45 minutes, I could not demonstrate the whole project and have much time left over for any student work. I try to limit my demos to 5 - 10 min to allow for as much time-on-task as possible. With Art classes only once a week, students would not be able to retain many steps from week to week.
For example, in my 4th grades, we are beginning our Japanese kumihimo braiding. 1st class: Learn history of Japanese braiding in an 8 minute PowerPoint followed by the construction of a cardboard maru dai loom. 2nd class: Warp the loom and learn the technique of thread movements around the loom. 3rd & 4th classes: Look at braids in progress. Review movements and complete the braid. 5th class: Complete rubric & self assessment.

Katie said...

Thanks for the post and all of the comments, I can tell I'm in way over my head here! I'm a homeschooling mom to 6 kids and want to give them exposure to great art projects. But, since I'm not an artist, I'm usually the one copying the sample! I guess I have a lot to learn ;)

Marcia said...

Katie, I hope you continue to use my blog for art ideas! It's great that you are able to learn alongside your kids.

Anonymous said...

I begin every art day ( I take the class for the day) with an observational drawing lesson. A daily lesson in learning to 'look'. This usually has no connection with the lesson we undertake later. I find that telling children what we hope to achieve in the day, settles anxious artists, this sometimes involves showing them a finished piece. I agree that demonstrating steps, rather than just talking about them, picks up more children. I scaffold the art more if the children are younger or less experienced. I sometimes copy a child's work and then show the next step using it. This way I feel the children can relate to the work more easily. Thank you for taking the time to blog this.


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