“I really like how you are demonstrating the activities for the kid’s work time,” my aide said after school. “Even _____ gets how to do it.”
Whereas I have demonstrated projects and outlined expectations for my students in the past, I have established different systems of support for my students this year and so it all seems new. Before I had staff work with small groups of 5 or 6 students at a table. This year, I demonstrate for the whole class at once, walking them through a project step by step. Then I ask them to gather the materials they are going to need, and set up their work spot for after our PE time. The goal is that they are able to work independently or use their peers for help and that my aide and I are able to roam and offer support as needed. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how they are able to hold this information in their heads even after 2 transitions and 25 minutes of time outside. Maybe I shouldn’t be so amazed.
Today’s activities just happened to be a great example of this – they aren’t always wonderful but I’m learning how to enable success more of the time. I’ve been trying to build my student’s capacity for creating figures in their drawings and capture emotions in the expressions they put on the faces in their illustrations. Yesterday I told a story with a drawing about a time my husband was frustrated. (He put together the bike for the classroom with the seat on upside down – it was funny….but he was mighty frustrated!) We’ve been practicing how to draw eyes, eyebrows and mouths that show different emotions – (the students love the strong ones the best don’t they!) So after I told my story, I asked them to gather supplies and write/draw their own story about themselves and to show a feeling on the face. They were all pretty successful.
Capitalizing on this work from yesterday, but trying to use a different method for creating a figure, I demonstrated how to make a figure using cut-out shapes. I had a circle for the head, a large rectangle for a body, smaller ones for arms and legs, small circles for hands. I sat in front of them and created a whole figure. Then I asked them to restate the whole process for me again when I was finished. My TESL professor would have said that I should’ve done more with that – but it’s a start. (I also went ahead and shared how we were going to transform our pictures at the end of the day with a watercolor wash over them – we’ve been talking about the weather lately.)
The only prep I did for them was glue the head in a place on the paper so that the body would fit under it. The students took their name cards and their paper to a work place, I put out pans that had the cut-outs in them and glue sticks and crayons. Then we brushed our teeth, went outside and enjoyed a 1/4 mile jaunt around the track and a bit of time on the playground. We had some tussles and social emotional lessons as usual and then came inside and got to work. The kids were all successful in putting together their people. My aide and I went around and coaxed a few bodies closer to the heads but otherwise the kids did their own work.
I’ve been reminding them how important it is to put at least an initial on their papers so I know whose is whose and that lesson was critical at the end of the day when they had to retrieve their figures for the watercolor wash. Only one student had failed to put some sort of identifying mark on her paper. The washes are many colors and the figures look properly soaked and disgruntled. I’m looking forward to creating a bulletin board in the hall with our “Wet, Windy and Wild” art.
So, implications for next steps – tomorrow I will ask my students to describe the whole process again – oral language and vocabulary experience. We will also be doing journal entries and it will be interesting to see if our body-work from today helps anyone in thier figure drawing. I think I’ll have some students do some demonstration drawing in front of the class – figures, expressions, maybe some setting detail – like a wet and rainy day. I don’t know – – I’m sure more will come to me around 2 in the morning as usual……