Monday, September 27, 2010

Books and Teaching

Last Friday I was going to teach a class.  A class to 7th and 8th graders that choose art as something they wanted to do.  That is my favorite kind of where the students want to be there.

I wanted to do something really fun and challenging with the students.

Sometimes I get a little too ambitious.

Last Friday was one of those times.

I spent all week preparing for this class.  Measuring, cutting, measuring cutting, estimating, budgeting, was going to be a big project.

Now one of the challenges of teaching this class is that I am on a very tight budget for materials.  Anyone teaching art these days has to empathize with this...we are all on very tight budgets.

I could just make bean pictures and macaroni necklaces with the kids to cut down on cost, but they are not six so I want to offer something a bit more sophisticated.

How does one offer a sophisticated, creative, fun, educational class on a shoe string budget?

Really...any ideas? Any at all?  Send them my way!

For this project, I had to get really creative, really resourceful.

Granted it is a little easier for me to get creative and resourceful because I am an artist and I have all kinds of stuff laying around my house that lends itself to projects.

None the less mental exertion is required...ugh.

But...onwards and upwards, I shall overcome!

We were going to make books.  These book to be precise.

Now making books requires many...many...components,  all of them pricey.  

I couldn't do pricey...sooooo....

Instead of cover paper that I like to buy at the art supply store...I cut up old National Geographic maps.

Instead of expensive Davy Board used for the covers...I had saved the backs of art paper pads, and I used those.

Instead of expensive glue spreaders...I used cardboard.

Instead of expensive ribbon...I braided cotton thread I bought at the thrift store.

The only thing I went out to buy was the glue to hold the books together.  So all in all...I offered a class for just over $1.00 per student.  That was a success!

I won't list here all the components I had to remember and think about and compile for this class because I want you to be able to go out and enjoy your day...not get stuck here reading my blog.

Suffice to say that there were many components, and with so many components there are an equal number of steps in the process of making the books.

I thought that I had prepared enough and laid out the process well enough for the students to successfully complete this very ambitious project.

Alas...I do not feel it was a successful project.  Thus...I carry the responsibility of that failure.  I will not be attempting it again next semester with another group of kids.

Now when I say it wasn't successful, it isn't because the students didn't produce wonderful books, because they a greater or lesser degree.  

But what I feel was not successful was that not all of them felt good about what they made.  Not all of them felt good about the process.  Some were frustrated and felt a  loss as I walked them through the steps.  I don't like when a student walks away feeling like they were the ones who failed, because I don't think that is ever the is always, always, always my failure as a teacher.

I wanted them all to feel successful, I wanted them all to be empowered by the process.  

That is really important to me as a teacher.  Because it isn't just about the end product.

  I wasn't able to facilitate that for all of them this week and thus...not totally successful.

Maybe I next week.

Next week I will fill my briefcase with felting things, not bookmaking things.

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