Sunday, March 30, 2014

April 1, 2014

All year different groups have been responsible for decorating the faculty room for the month.  My group has April.  We've kicked around a few different ideas but really aren't prepared to assemble the bulletin board.  Here we are days away from April 1st!  So, Friday a few of us were enjoying lunch and some socialization and decided to put up a temporary board for the dreaded prankster day of April 1st.  A little research has turned up some fascinating facts and hilarious pranks from over the years.  After some devoted time on the computer, I really felt I wanted to share a few things with my blogster friends as we begin April as well.
These make me want to create fish projects and kick me signs this week with the kids!!!   Well, just kidding, it is April you know.

BBC announces discovery of Spaghetti Trees in  Switzerland!
Taco Bell helps with National Debt

The original post was from 1976.  Looks like someone is trying this one again!
Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three creative weeks with Clay

I'll soon have so much to post but I've been busy guiding students through the process of becoming potters and haven't had much to say lately.  I was giving this some thought the other day as my Kindergarten students were creating these coil pots.  I thought I would share my method.
I try to create a story with students as they work with clay to hopefully cement methods through association. So here goes:

We begin by rolling a piece of clay into a ball to create a yummy pancake. It is placed into the bottom of an inexpensive plastic bowl from the dollar store.  This will serve as a mold to help them support the sides of their bowl as they create.

Next students learn to roll a "snake" coil with clay.
Here is the story.  A snake discovered a pancake in the bottom of a bowl.  It looked so yummy that the snake crawled into the bowl to have a bite.  We take our thumb and try to stop the snake from eating as we push the coil against the sides of the bowl

making certain to have each clay coil touch the clay below it.  The snake tries to escape and crawl out of the bowl, we pinch, pinch, pinch and we turn to bowl and keep the snake "caught" in the bowl.

Once students reach the top of the bowl the coil pot is finished and left to harden before it is removed from the bowl.

Most students are very successful in attaching the coils.  The bowl will have beautiful Kindergarten thumb prints all around the interior but will maintain the appearance of coils around the outside.
inside view of students work
Student Work: Outside view with bowl upside down
Student Work: Outside view with bowl in correct position

Student Work on Left after glazing
Small Kindergarten Pinch Pot on Right

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Check out this great series of videos for Ocarinas

I have been making clay whistles, Ocarinas, with my students for ten years.  Its been a growing process and I have become more successful and skilled each year with the teaching process.  Last year I created some beveled popsicle sticks that made the whistle opening process fairly fool proof.  Here is my previous post with the link from last year.  Many of my students play instruments this year and are interested in adding fingering holes to their whistles so they can produce additional pitches.  I recently discovered some terrific youtube videos by Chris Heuer that make the process very clear for even a first time whistle potter.  If you are interested in creating whistles with your students, check out those videos here.  The process of creating an instrument with students is very exciting and never grows old.  Give it a try!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Clay Time

An example from last school year
I haven't posted much lately because all my classes are working with clay.  K,1, 2 & 3 generally create for three weeks but often it takes 4th and 5th 4-6 weeks to complete their projects.  Everything is moving along well.  Fifth grade is creating clay whistles.  I shared a few videos with them for making Ocarinas and many are inspired to take the next step and add fingering holes to create an increased span of sounds.  Since many of them take instruments, I am sure they can be successful.  I will share the finished projects in several weeks.  Fourth grade students create animals.  For the first time this year I am focusing on slabs and textures with third grade.  Each week I introduce one or two different ideas for creating with slabs and then students chose what they would like to create for that lesson.  Some students actually create both of the lesson suggestions.  I am really inspired by their enthusiasm and the efforts they are putting into textures and slabs.  A few second grades completed the construction of their clay owls today and it looks like the first graders will finish their Ugly cups next week.  Ugly cups are the first grade interpretation of Southern Ugly Jugs.  I found a very student friendly video on this subject as well that the students enjoyed viewing while giggling at some of the funny looking jugs.  Kindergarten is clay introduction.  They experiment with creating something from a small ball of clay in one piece,  coil pots, pinch pots, elbow or knee pots and texture impressions for a clay medallion to be made into a necklace later in the Spring.  I'm beginning to load the kiln in both buildings but haven't done the first bisque firing, yet.   The room is covered in clay dust and I spend my day in controlled chaos but it is my favorite unit of the year!  Watch for photos,  I love to share them all and can't wait to update you when projects are finished!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Looking to hold on to creativity

I have a general concern about my students and their creativity.  It bothers me when they ask me permission before they add something to their work.  You know the question: "Mrs. H., can I add a barn to the background? or Is it okay if my snowman stands on his head?"  My standard answer is always, "I don't know, you are the artist"  Of course, that means, Of Course You Can!

Generally these types of questions come from the older elementary students who have already been tainted by a black and white world where everything is either wrong or right.  They are all victims of the standardized test among other things.

I worry that we will soon squeeze all the genuine wonderment and creativity right out of their precious little bodies.  Everything that is creative will soon become a carbon copy of someone else interpretation of what is creative.

I decided to test the creativeness of my students occasionally this year by throwing them a bone of creativity. I hand them some materials and set them free to see where the material will take them.  This is hard for my students.  They need for me to guide them and to answer their questions about what they should be doing.  I resist and tell them to make what ever feels interesting and comfortable for them.  I hope those little spurts of unbridled art making will keep their creative spirits alive.  It's not about the product, you know.  It's about the journey that takes us there.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rubric for Kindergarten Assessment

I successfully administered my Roll a Dice Assessment to all Kindergartners.  They thought we were playing a very fun game and were exceptional listeners for the entire class.  I did not have time for them to color in all of the shapes in my 45 minute class period.  The average was about 16 rolls of the die.  Today I am attaching the rubric I used for this assessment.  I made sure to walk around during the test to do a bit of formative assessments to determine if they could identify the shapes.  I also made a master list of what number was rolled and what they were told to color. The assessment post is here.