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Learning encounter: art teacher, university students, children.

LEARNING ENCOUNTER: Art Teacher, University Students, Children

MY EXPERIENCE AS A FIRST YEAR art teacher brought me to the realization that I had no exposure to the elementary classroom other than the customary student teaching semester offered fairly late in the curriculum. I believe earlier inclusion of short-term classroom experience would improve the program. Thus, I extended an invitation to students at the local university to come to my elementary classroom before they entered the traditional student teaching semester.

I invited a student architect, potter, metalsmith and printmaker to visit my classroom and immediately discovered that everyone comes out ahead -- the prospective teachers, the students and the classroom teacher. These artists who would be student teaching in a short time appreciated my lesson plans and demonstration of how materials might be ordered. They saw how the classroom is set up and how discipline and interest is maintained. I believe this made the university students less apprehensive than they might have been about their pending student teaching assignments.

The university students were also a motivational catalyst for the elementary art students. For instance, when the architect student came with a bulging portfolio, the children were amazed at the models, blueprints and renderings. They had a much clearer understanding of what an architect does. Students whose fathers were architects brought in more models and drawings which generated even more enthusiasm about the whole idea of design and construction.

It was sometimes a great deal of work to set things up. For the ceramics student-artist, I had to borrow a potter's wheel, order clay and arrange the art-room space as well as update the kiln equipment. She gave a general history of clay, demonstrated wedging the clay, and threw clay on the wheel. The students participated in each step of the demonstration, taking notes from the blackboard, feeling the clay and actually helping to throw cylinders and bowls. Students were waiting before and after school, lining up to work until I finally had to say, "Lights out!" so we could go home. The delight of the students in the demonstrations and their discussions about it to others resulted in the Student Council purchasing a potter's wheel for the coming year.

The metalsmith art education student demonstrated the repousee technique. The elementary students learned about torches, the pitch bowl, metals and hammers. Seeing a three-dimensional design emerge from a flat piece of copper was an exciting visual experience for the students.

The printmaker was to student teach the next semester. She was most appreciative of the exposure to elementary students. Her presentation was embossing. She had the elementary students cut shapes from heavy tag board, placed them on dampened paper and ran them through the printing press. The students were excited with the 3-D appearance of the gauffrage prints as well as the shadows that surfaced on the white compositions.

The painter demonstrated painting of objects from nature and gave the students an opportunity to use her brushes and paint to try the techniques. She left the finished work to be hung and enjoyed by the children.

All of the student-artists who came to the art classroom involved the children directly in their presentations. None gave a dry lecture. They encouraged classroom discussion by talking informally about the media and invited the students to participate in actually exploring each media. The students liked the feeling of shared friendships. All ages, from kindergarten to sixth grade, were involved in these experiences. Different student-artists were scheduled for different days so every elementary student in the school was exposed to at least one guest artist-educator.

Wherever you are teaching, it is likely that a university, college or community college will be located close enough to your school for you to make arrangements with the Art Education Department for visiting artist-students. The art students in my area know I will gladly schedule them whenever they feel it would be helpful to them as well. Hopefully this practice of student art educators in the classroom will spread to other schools in the district.

PHOTO : University student, Keith Rosko, assists student with stained glass window made of paper.
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Title Annotation:university students visiting elementary school classes
Author:Newcom, Andrew N.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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