Teaching at South Beaver

On October 19 I went to S. Beaver Elementary again with EthanChristina, and Allie. Nothing terribly significant happened; we looked at some of Joe Sorren’s artwork, especially the Verdant Gardens of Effie Laroux, discussed a couple of questions somewhat ineptly, and tried to have the kids make a collaborative mural thingey. Some of them got it, some didn’t — we did try. Note to self: prepare discussion questions in advance.

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Once again I could have been more prepared. It didn’t help that I had only two days between my first and second time, but then again, I have spent the past month being fairly clueless about what I was planning, when I really should have been making some examples and some kind of lesson summary. We made double-sided Lotus books, mostly because it was something I was already fairly comfortable with, and had already done all the prep work for. Both the kids and helper/teachers seemed to have a pretty good time, and we were pretty busy until 5. I don’t think anyone, including myself, had any very concrete idea what the books had to do with nature, or why we were teaching them, other than because they’re fun. I had some vague connection in mind about the Lotus being a flower, and that they could use them as some kind of nature journal or some such. Like I said, more prep work doing research on art books, as well as an example of one showing nature themes, would have made things run smoother, and given the kids something more to think about.

Something else that bothered me somewhat was the extremely informal interactions both between the proteges in front of the class, and between us teachers and the students. There was a great deal of joking and banter going on, which was all right to an extent (fortunately the protégées ceased and desisted from their stripper jokes once the kids got there), but got somewhat carried away. We should try to project a slightly more formal tine next time, especially since the kids will be a few years younger. One thing that might help would be to have a 12 or so minute introduction, talk about an artist or style, have a brief demonstration for the whole class, and then get to work, instead of instructing in small chunks somewhat haphazardly like we have been doing. I also need to have more stuff to do to keep everyone occupied, including the protégées, so that they don’t get bored and end up drawing beavers on the chalkboard; this time there wasn’t enough work for everyone because we had four teachers, and only about nine students making a project that wasn’t all that difficult.

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Today was my first time teaching at South Beaver Elementary, or any school for that matter. I should have been somewhat more prepared; I’ll have to work on that for the future. Christian, her friend, and, another ARE 200 student (Emily?) were there, and it was pretty fun. We had K-2 for about 40 minutes, then 5th for another half hour. After a brief introduction and a look at the pop-up Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters, the kids made little beaky mouth things and coil pop-ups. Since we didn’t know ahead of time we would be teaching 5th as well (were we supposed to?), they did the same thing. It wasn’t very deep or meaningful (I’m not too good at that yet on the shorter lessons), but a good time was had by all, I think. Ancient sea creatures and things with beaks are in fact vaguely a part of nature, and therefore within our “theme.” We’ll be back on Thursday to do some more stuff with the 5th and 6th graders, and I’m rather looking forward to it. Christina’s working on some kind of beaver in a box activity.

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