Saturday, March 2, 2013

Coil pots and differentiation

Seems like all my art teacher friends everywhere have been coiling away as we have here in GA - I have seen so many great coil pot posts this week! My 3rd graders really enjoyed this process as they do every year. This lesson was a big part of my annual evaluation this year and I was observed by my principal during two classes, and one area that is getting more attention on our new evaluations is differentiation, or how each student's learning experience is geared for their unique needs. This is something that special area teachers have always been good at doing, but now we have the challenge to put it into words like never before, as it was an intrinsic, basically unspoken, part of our plan. So it was a real learning experience for me to break down and categorize ways that differentiation occurs in my classroom. After much thought and rethinking, it basically came down to 3 things: varying the way the students and I present and use information in the classroom, modifying for different ability levels (which includes peer helpers), and as always, student choice in design/theme/media decisions.  Skillful students were engaged in creating new types of coil designs and were leading others at their work tables. We took inspiration from real pots we could hold, and watched slideshows on pots from other times and places. We demonstrated, discussed, and assessed all throughout the lesson each week. Although these were all things that happened fluidly for many years, it was really the first time I had to look at it and present it in my planning in this way.
The students spent 3 sessions on intro and building, then one session on glazing and one on assessment and sharing. We discussed what the function of our pots would be and how our design ideas are important for function. We also wrote about what our pots would say about us as individuals if they were to be found as artifacts many years from now. Beautiful, unique little pots, every one!

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