Sometimes I reach a point where I realize that just doing the work will make me feel better, but I still don't want to do it. I don't spend a lot of time in front of the TV or on the computer, but I still manage to find ways to avoid if I want to. And avoiding what should get done makes me feel that much worse for not doing it.
As for writing in the blog, I have been feeling like the most important issues rattling around in my brain right now are verboten. I spend oodles of time thinking about some issues that have to do with the classes I am currently teaching but most of the issues seem to be a little too sensitive to discuss openly and I because I haven't been writing about the issues, I haven't figured out if there is something I can say publicly about them. In writing the first three paragraphs here, I am aware that I am creating a most audience un-friendly post. However, I am also aware that one of the reasons I set myself this twice a week goal for writing the blog was because of the benefits that come from writing the blog, namely, the opportunity to think deeply and personally about the issues that are rattling around in my brain. I will now proceed to use more pictures and write about something that does invite an outside audience in.
2nd Grade Clay
I do have a couple of things coming up that I am at liberty to discuss. One is that I have agreed to teach a clay lesson to some second graders at Apple Valley Elementary in West Valley. The YVCC art department was contacted by an Apple Valley PTA mom about presenting some art lessons to their students because the students don't have art classes. I repeat, the students don't have ANY art class. The horror!
City Parks and Recreation Department. I taught all K-12 grade levels and kids as young as preschool and some adult classes. The classes were small, we had basically no budget and I was pretty much on my own for setting up classes and teaching them. It was a good experience, but it was also 10 years ago.
|I couldn't find the real logo version of this so I made my own with my daughter's stickers|
For the past two years I have done a clay lesson for my daughter's pre-school class. Second graders have more dexterity and more ability to anticipate the end result, but I'm not sure they are that fundamentally different from pre-schoolers in wanting to play with clay. For that matter, adults taking a one-day clay lesson usually just want to play with clay. With clay, I think a flexible but not too difficult project can work well for very young kids and older students all the way up to adults. I think teenagers are probably the hardest group to please. They tend to be least forgiving and most likely to label the project as stupid or uncool.
|preschool bells waiting to be fired|
The biggest challenge for this lesson will be that the group includes 70 students. That's right, I am going to teach one clay lesson for 45 minutes to seventy students. What could go wrong? I expect that there will be some adults, but it's hard to guess how many. It is also hard to know how the kids will behave.
I was originally thinking of doing the the bell project I did this summer with the preschool class. I've done the basic project with older kids in Cedar Rapids as well. The bell or rattle sculpture emphasizes the neat qualities of clay, namely, it gets hard when you fire it and can thus make a noise. Kids can simply make a bell with random surface decoration like the pre-schoolers did or they can make figurative bells like my older kids did. The most patient or skillful students can do more surface decoration than average but all the kids will end up with a noisemaker once the pieces are fired.
|dog bell made by a little boy in Cedar Rapids who is probably now in college|
This bell project consists of a flat base and a coiled, thrown, wrapped slab or pinched body. The trick is to put in a dry rattle before closing the top. With the pre-schoolers I threw a dozen top pieces and had the kids attach the bases, insert the rattles and close the tops. With older kids in Cedar Rapids, it looks like I had them wrap slabs around probably a toilet paper roll support or possibly they free-formed the base with a slab.
|bride bell made by a little girl in Cedar Rapids who could conceivably be a bride now herself|
The huge group of second graders won't be able to work with slabs, since we won't have access to a slab roller. I certainly am not going to throw 60+ top pieces like I did with the ten preschoolers. I will have to decide whether I want the kids to try to coil-build a rattle, create a pinch pot rattle or scrap the rattle/bell idea all together. I could have the kids make pineapple pots. Pineapple pots are basically press-molded bowls. The kids push balls of clay securely into one another inside a styrofoam or paper bowl. As the clay dries it shrinks and pops out of the bowl. I did this with adults at YVCC for an Empty Bowls fundraiser several years ago, but it doesn't work well if the balls of clay aren't pressed together well.
In looking online, I found this guy making simple clay rattles that are too quick and maybe too small, but could be combined with my bell forms to create slab-free bell/rattles. The most important things to keep in mind as I prepare are that the kids will like playing with clay and should be allowed freedom to squish and stick things into the clay and to scratch and scrape the surface of the clay. If this can be achieved while also creating more than a solid lump of clay, the parents will also be happy. The kids will probably be happy with a lump.
I will probably make a bunch of copies of step-by-step visual instructions for the process. Having taught a lesson at Davis High School in Yakima, I now know not to expect that the classroom will be quiet enough that all the students can hear me speak. I also will want a convenient way to help the adult helpers help the kids.