Today, I’m glad to say, was a pretty good day. Although I was sick for a majority of the weekend and spent the rest of my time working on my thesis, even until 1:00am last night, I had a successful day today. Although I was tired, I was did not feel moody or stressed and the day ran by quickly.
Today, I was again greeted by my cooperating teacher handing me a printout of this week’s lesson plans. She had also emailed me a copy of them yesterday morning. I also noticed that the classroom had been rearranged. My cooperating teacher had been toying with the idea of rearranging the room for the STAAR Test days in order to keep talking down and to remind the students that test days are special days in which they need to be more quiet. She had seated all of the chairs on one side of the tables so that all of the chairs were facing one side of the room. She felt that if students weren’t sitting across from each other, they would talk less. I then began helping my teacher cut strips of tissue paper to refill the tissue paper bins for the 1st grade students.
The first class began and a wave of second graders entered the room. I was shocked at how quietly they entered the room. Because today was a STAAR Test day, students were not allowed to talk in the hallways at all, and they were obeying. Immediately, though, students were confused as to where to sit. Although my cooperating teacher explained that the color-coded tables were still the same and students were still to sit at their assigned table, some students sat wherever they wanted or were just confused in general. Some also started to move chairs from one side of the table to the other side, (the side where they normally sit.) It took a bit after my cooperating teacher continued to explain until the students finally realized where they should sit. Finally after everyone was seated, class could begin.
This class was working on Eric Carle collage insects. Last week these students painted large pieces of paper in random colors so that they could cut from the colorful papers and create a collage insect this week. The painted papers were handed out and students started cutting. There were still some understanding issues. Some students began drawing on the paper they would be gluing their collaged pieces to, while others tried to draw an entire insect on the painted paper, rather than cutting out pieces, like legs and wings. Some students had even painted insects and flowers on their papers last week and just started cutting those out. It took explaining from myself and my cooperating teacher to help them understand the project. Students who had already painted “things” on their papers were instructed to cut up those things into different parts and to then glue them together in a collage style. I was intrigued by the insects that some of the students were creating, as some showed great signs of creativity. Some of the painted papers turned out really well, too, and helped add to the insects. Last week I thought that this project may have been too advanced for the students, but today I thought otherwise. With a great deal of explaining, the students were able to accomplish the task.
During the 3rd grade class, I again helped students to improve their watercolor paintings of flowers inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. After some students had covered their entire paper in paint, I encouraged them to add darker shades in places such as behind petals and in the center of the flower. Students were amazed when I told them that they could add shadows and create darker values that would help make their piece more interesting. They were also amazed when I explained that they could use more water and less paint to help the colors blend better, or to move paint from areas that were too saturated to areas that could use more color. I loved explaining these new techniques to the students and seeing their faces light up. They really caught on and improved their pieces, too.
Today was my second time taking over a class as I taught a 1st grade class again. This week the students were continuing to add to their tissue paper landscapes. I began the class by explaining that today was a test day and that there shouldn’t be loud talking. I told students to whisper if they needed to say something. We then reviewed what we did last week as I asked them about what they created and what a landscape was. We also reviewed the criteria of the assignment as I asked them if they could simply make their whole sky blue or their whole ground green. “Can you just glue a whole sheet of tissue paper to your piece?” I asked, as the students called out in response. I felt that the students understood the project and handed out their works and let them get to work. While I don’t feel as comfortable teaching the elementary students, I feel competent at it. I feel that I know what to do and how to conduct an effective class.
Today my cooperating teacher and I did struggle with noise, though. Although we had seated the students differently, the noise level didn’t really seem affected. Students tried to talk to students they normally didn’t sit near and would even talk to different tables. My cooperating teacher constantly had to remind students that today was a testing day. I did notice that my 1st grade class was more quiet than the other classes, but they still had to be reminded constantly when chatter started to crescendo. I think that the different seating arrangement might have actually caused more confusion than it did cut down on noise.
Because of STAAR Testing, my cooperating teacher had an extended lunch today. I used that time to create an example of the tissue paper landscape. While I didn’t finish, I still like to attempt the assignments that the students are given so that I know exactly what it’s like to do and so that I can give the students tips that I learned by doing the activity. If I do complete my example, I then have one for my own future classroom and to remind me of that lesson. I also spent a good amount of time cutting more tissue paper to refill the bins as the students today used up almost all of the blue and green paper.
After lunch, there were only two more classes, kindergarten and 4th grade.
I was amazed at how quickly the day seemed to go by!
Because the kindergarten students seem to complete their work so quickly, they were given a new assignment today. My cooperating teacher showed the students an image of a desert sunset with a silhouette of the land on the projector and talked about the colors that make up a sunset. She had me set out warm-colored crayons on the tables, only providing the students with reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, and purples. They also talked about the silhouette and how it looked like a shadow. The students could tell that there was grass, a cactus, and a jackrabbit, but the objects were completely black. The students were then given yellow paper and sent to their seats to create their own desert landscape.
My cooperating teacher gave each student a coffee can lid to trace to create a large, round sun somewhere on their paper and then explained that they should color half of the paper in sunset colors. Students seemed to really struggle with this concept as some students would color half of the paper in one color and think they were done, while some only colored a small strip at the top of the paper, and some didn’t even know what to do after tracing the sun. A few students even had trouble tracing the sun. It took a while for my cooperating teacher and myself to check with each student and explain the sunset concept to them. Once most students had completed their sunset, they were then given black paper and told to create their silhouette. This was another misunderstanding as students would draw directly on their sunsets and ignore the black paper, draw on the black paper and then glue it on to the sunset without cutting out the things they had drawn, or just glue the black paper onto the sunset without cutting or drawing on it. I had a few students glue the black paper right on top of the sunset-half of their paper, completely covering the sunset they had colored. It was difficult to try to explain to the students the correct technique.
Overall, I felt like this assignment was too advanced for the students. I know I said that last week, so maybe I’m wrong again, but we had few successes today and many students were confused. I feel that this assignment could be kept with the kindergarten students, but a demonstration would need to given. Perhaps if the students had seen the teacher color a sunset and then cut out silhouettes and glue them to the bottom of the page, they may have understood better. I’m interested to see how a demonstration could benefit this lesson.
At the end of the day, I was pretty happy. I feel that today went well and I enjoyed seeing new lessons or the continuation of last week’s lessons. Elementary is so different from secondary, in that students normally complete assignments within a day or two since they only have art about once a week. A day or two in elementary is literally a week or two. It’s definitely a different feel from secondary.