Others start to run out of gas a bit and need a little pick-me-up, artistically speaking. Brain research tells us that middle school students enjoy and seek novelty. So, I've been keeping an ace-in-the-hole, a little something special in case I notice interest flagging.
Last year, I pulled soapstone carving out of my sleeve, "for eighth graders only." This year, mosaics - ta dah!
I was disappointed last year when more students did not fall in love with soapstone carving. In fact, few chose it, and even fewer stuck with it. The students I hoped to engage did not even try it.
Next I showed one group of students all I know about grouting, channeling my friend and mentor John Martin, who taught me everything I know on the subject.
My students were then able to take it from there.
I was very impressed with the students' "can-do" attitude and their willingness to give it a go.