CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio
CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Class that Loves Clay

I unloaded the kiln today - 48 pieces came from one 7th grade class (of 14 students). The other 7th grade class produced 8 pieces in the same time period. This class loves clay.
Team Prodigy grade 7
 This is a very concrete example of one of the unique strengths of choice-based art. All students are introduced to clay. All students watch various demonstrations on clay topics. All students observe peers working with clay, but not all students choose to work with clay. And some students work with a lot of clay. 

I did the math: the average number of clay objects per student currently in 7th grade art is 2.3. That's about right - that's what I budget for. But the beauty of this system is that kids who love clay, the clay artists in class, can work with a lot of clay. These interested students can make several objects in series ( see below).
This 7th grade clay artist demonstrates the "studio thinking habits" Engage & Persist" and "Develop Craft" by practicing on the potter's wheel several days in succession. He is currently making lidded jars and learning to use a caliper.
Over in the Printmaking Center, students have been working  on carving rubber stamps from squares of vinyl. While this was going on, someone shared the following picture on Facebook (sorry, I kept the photo, but not the reference!), illustrating the use of clay stamps:
Photo courtesy of Art Teachers Facebook Group
We wondered if our new vinyl stamps would work on clay. This question launched a new creative-inquiry by a different set of students. The class previously had a lesson about rolling slabs from clay, but students usually used their slabs to drape inside wooden bowls ("slump-molds"). Making a slab of clay stand up was a new challenge. 
Notice the skill progression from the vessel in front (made on the first day of trying) to the vessel in the back (made the next day by the same student).
Studio Thinking Habits in practice: "Engage & Persist" and "Develop Craft"
5th grade starts clay after break - I just counted the boxes of clay we have left - I think we will make it!

Teachers new to the concept of Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) and choice-based art education often ask about ordering supplies. The impression is that more of everything will be needed when children choose their work, but I have not found this to be true. It seems I order just about the same as I always did, because, as illustrated here, not all students work to the same extent with the same materials at the same time. 2.3 clay objects per student is about what I would buy for, if I had a traditional, teacher-directed program. If that is more than a budget can bare, the "clay center" can have a shorter run, and not stay open as long as our does.