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Glittery Life

transitfan's picture

Three Key Themes from this week's fieldwork

1. not being confident in the content even when you are an "expert"

I draw mountains and hills on the board, and direct the students to follow with their voices as we outline the shape of the mountains. They do this easily. Next we sing “Boom-di-a-da” as a round. I teach the students this line by line, then we sing it together, then we break it into a round. The students mostly already know the song and learn it more easily than I or Ms. Presley expected; apparently their teacher last year taught it to them (although one word was different in my version, which they are quick to point out- “fountains” instead of “flowers”.)

The only problem in this activity is that I was focusing carefully on myself and my own teaching; thus when Ms. Presley asked me how I thought the students were sounding and how they could improve, I came up blank. Truthfully they were doing pretty good.

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 3/7

2 yr olds with Ms. A

Two pairs here: S and mom B, Sl and mom C

C, a 1st grader, who's mom works here, is helping out today

I've grown so incredibly comfortable with these kids and parents, esp. S and her mom B. Throughout the term, S has clearly been becoming more independent from her mother, often specifically asking her not to help and to sit not so close to her. She has, in many of these instances, felt more comfortable with me helping out, allowing me (a non-parent adult) to guide her in her learning. I have never felt this comfortable wiht one specific child (I've never been a baby-sitter). 

In this setting, where a teacher can develop a relationship with a student over time, I find myself shying away from thinks like museum education. While I love being able to reach so many visitors in that way, I then often lose the chance to become close to a child, to observe and guide them more personally through their artistic/creative education. Things like this make me want to be a schol teacher, where I have the opportunity to see students regularly and develop relationships with them.

S was particularly close with me today. At the end of our class, mom B even asked me if I babysit and if I would be available to babysit for S! I was so flattered and happy to have made such a good impression on both the mother and child.

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 3/1

Modern class with Ms. B

Printmaking! (My concentration!!) Block printing with styrofoam plates

Show images of block prints, mostly animas, woodcuts, etc. b/w only

Ms. B did this with a group at her church last week and it was such a success that she wanted to try it again with this group. 

I cut the center circles out of plates for them. She had stencils of animals for them to trace. Trace in marker, then press image and designs into plate with pens (sketch) whale, squirrel, coyote

Some kids continued to draw, design with markers, they didn't quite understand the full concept of the printmaking

Maybe if Ms. B had done a full demo at the beginning??

I suggested that they check to see if they pressed hard enough with the pen by running their fingers over the designs.

Challenging concept, but they managed to complete.

Once completed designs, Ms. B and I had to go around to check whether they pushed in enough. I went over many lines myself, to make sure their image could be printed.

Then printed! One by one, they had to make a line. I helped roll the ink, Ms. B helped printing the plate onto paper. Some kids wanted to do 2 or 3 prints.

Wash hands, snack and story time

A's birthday, brownies

Walk over to big gallery art show. Radnor residents. Ms. B had 2 paintings. 

They see a nude painting showing a butt, they are all very amused. "It's a BUTT!"

Ms. B and I: everyone has a butt there's nothing funny about it. 

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 2/28 (2nd class)

After school art class

Cross-visitation with R

The turtles came back from the kiln sooner than expected, so we were able to glaze them today.

R and I arrive. kids sitting on floor around A, as she talks to them about glaze, over glaze and habitats

Agenda: paint/glaze turtles, wait to dry, make habitats for turtles, white sandwhich bags. Side 1: name and something that reminds us of you. T: rainbows. C and R: playing together. Side 2: turtle habitat, where a turtle would live, water, etc. overglaze turtles (green shiny glaze)

Table 1 (glaze) --> Table 2 (habitat) --> Table 1 (over-glaze)

on table 2: Ms. A drew some images to help kids with ideas og where a turtle might live, underwater

seaweed, fish, sand, water, etc. she asked R and I to add to the drawings. Castle, starfish, coral reef

Working one-on-one with many kids in this class. T and R (brothers) especially they seem to need more attention. I was working with R on his habitat drawing. He wanted to draw an anchor, asked me how. I couldn't quite remember what they looked like, draw ___, then looked it up on my phone ___, drew example on table, then he copied it, and wasn't too happy with it.

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 2/28

Two year olds with Ms. A

Color: Green

Ms. A giving me more responsibility, suggesting I do gluing demos, give out materials, work more closely with kids and moms/gmas

Only 2 pairs today: S and mom B, B and gma E

O worked closely with S and B, while Ms. A was with B and E

Ms. A gave each child a tupperware with green beads, yellow squares and a green pompom. asked them to shake the tupperware, then try to open it.

S: with encouragement, was able to open (practicing dexterous skills)

B: couldn't do it, gave to Gma to open.

S: lined up all beads one-by-one, really taking her time, 

Today she was not wanting much help from her mother. Kept asking her to sit farther away. She seemed happy to have me close. Mother mentioned S going through phase of wanting Dad for some things, mom for others. Learning more independence?

Ms. A gave out pipe cleaners, encouraged them to bead onto the pipe-cleaners. 

B: Happy to do it

S: didn't want to continued  to line up her beads.


B could not sit still, ran around table over and over and over

Ms. A suggested that E let her run herself tired, rather than scold her.

S did not want to leave at the end of class time

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 2/22

Modern class with Ms B 9:00-11:45

Matisse cutout shapes

not much of a plan, plan to cut shapes out for/with students

Ms. B assumes that the project prob won't take the whole class time, wonders what we'll do when they finish. I suggest making a second piece?

The project: talk abt Matisse, look at two books with images of his cutouts. Ms B had drawn some examples of shapes on a paper (asks me to do the same before class starts) to give students ideas. Give them one large sheet of paper and two smaller ones. two smaller to be glued into the middle (as a background) wiht leftover border available to decorate later. (sketches)

As the kids glued the background rectangles, some were not perfect (sketches) Ms. B wanted them all to have a border, so we both went around helping them re-glue their pieces of paper. 

Then, cutting out shapes: provided a lot of different colored paper. When they needed help cutting specific shapes, we would help: sometimes fold paper with them, sometimes draw the shapes, sometimes cut it for them.

At some point, we both began cutting out new and different shapes outselves, offering them out to kids. "who wants a leaf?" "who wants a spiral?"

I was a bit uncomfortable doing this much in terms of cutting out shapes from my own head and just giving them to the kids. 

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 2/21 (2nd class)

After school art class 4:15-5:15pm

I arrive at 4:22 (coming straight from BMC, which Ms. A is okay with, because she is thankful for the help)

8 students present (ages 6, 6, 7, 6, 6, 5, 7)

(sketch of table, students names, seats)

Clay Turtles: example turtle, components (shell, head, 4 legs/feet, tail), demo, then back to spots at table

T and R: brothers. T is very talkative

Demo: "this is the time in the class when everyone has to listen really carefully, and watch really carefully." 1 ball of clay, break in half. 1st half smush (sketch), press over crumpled newspaper, shell! (sketch). Clay tools, v special, v careful. Score the shell: a little "x" for each spot, dip fingers in water, get the shell a little wet, not super wet, just wet enough. 2nd half: break into 6 pieces, big head, medium legs, small tail

I was really happy that Ms. A asked me to join in her helping the after school class. She clearly appreciated having another adult in the room (and I appreciate being useful) but also she must have valued my presence in her clasroom. 

The afternoon class was definitely a more hands-on class that wanted/required more adult attention.

Splitting the class between the two of us meant that we could work more closely with each student and give EACH one more attention than they would have received otherwise. 

This class is with older studnets and therefore they are wokring on more challenging projects and learning to work more independently.

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 2/21

2 yr olds class

[She's starting a new 5 wk session with k-2nd grade this afternoon, afterschool, could use an extra pair of hands!]

This class is more about the basics, materials, less important about leaving with something finished, not as concerned with putting things together. 

last week: clay, pinch pots, tools

This week: ORANGE, possibly glaze pots at the end of class


Sl and mom C arrive (first time meeting them): drawing with crayons on orange paper. C observes and comments on what Sl is doing. Asks her questions. Can you ssee orange crayon on orange paper? You can if you press really hard. I like how you press really hard to make the colors show up!

Sl: I made a leaf! mom C: You drew a leaf!

Ms. A hands scissors to Sl, remember we tried scissors. 

Sl: a little tentative, unsure about scissors in her hand. Ms. A grabs another pair and demonstrates: "open" "close", practice cutting papers. "I did make 2!"

9:37: down to the floor, carpet squares

Sl sees pink paint on floor, "look!" she says. She gets up, sits back down, notices the pink again. "look!" She sees an ant on her carpet square.

B and gma E and S and mom B show up while were on the floor

9:45 back to table, we're going to make orange today. Yellow paint, add red to it. Kids stir it up with stick. Big piece of paper to paint on. Sl uses pieces of paper she cut earlier to paint with. Mom: "Leave it to Sl__!"

Adding water to paint

abenjamin's picture

Fieldnotes 2/7

First Day

One of the classes I'm placed in at this art center is for two year olds and a parent or guardian. 

9:15 Arrive to get oriented/help set up. Ms. A gives me a little intro to how she sets up the class. 3 students (and 2 moms, 1 grandmother, so 6 altogether). Small for this session. Usually around 10 (or 20). 

She works in 15 minute intervals, progression of materials; if kids are focused, can be longer than 15 min. If restless, shorten the time.

Ms. A works through colors: Session 1 - black and white, 2 - white add blue, 3 - yellow and circle, TODAY 4 - Red and heart. TODAY: paint --> story (Shapes), cut and glue, model magic

Kids show up "preschool time": 9:25-9:45 (class is from 9:30-11)

9:30 S and mom B show up, we'll wait until 9:40 to start. Comes in and draws on paper that set out for her.

9:42 come to the floor. Ms. A asks S: what color did we work with last time?

B and Grandma E show up

play game on floor (to practice fine motor skills) pass pom-poms around using coffee spoons

first show shapes book (circle, square, oval, triangle, star, HEART (todays shape))

9:50 back to table to paint, S is SO excited (squealing), painting with Red, free-paint, watercolor brush or stubby brush (S and B both know the names of the brushes)

1st half of ten weeks: more PROCESS than PRODUCT, getting used to materials

B: lots of faces, her and Gma holding hands

S: stubby brush, try pouring cup of paint, when she was running low

transitfan's picture

why might students be less excited in the class with better teaching?

Today I was in Mr. Takeler's Looking At Wind Instruments 4th/5th grade classes, in which a professional flutist and a professional trumpeter (both have played in the Opera Company of Philadelphia among other ensembles) gave students their first lesson in flute and trumpet. Students split and half and either stayed in the Band room with Ms. Rock to play trumpet or went upstairs with Mr. Terrible to play flute, then switched. I saw two sections of each.

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