Sunday, February 24, 2013

4 Tips on Being a Better Listener

Is Any One Listening?

Sometimes things can get in the way of having a conversation with a middle school student. A thirteen year old can be highly emotional and take things the wrong way. Then things can take a wrong turn and escalate.  And we all know there are no 'winners' in this type of situation.

Keeping Things Under Control

One way to keep things calm and cool is to be a good listener. It shows that you care and are interested in what your students are saying. And ultimately shows them that you think they have value and their opinion matters.

Some tips to be a better listener-

1. Listen to what your student is saying. Their viewpoint will never make sense to you if all you are worried about is defending your own viewpoint.

2. Don't be more concerned with what you have to say than what is being said.

3. If the current time is not convenient to talk, simply tell you student that another time would be better, that you are busy right now.

4. Don't assume what your student is going to say. You don't know what another person is going to say until they say it. Listen!

Do you have any tips on being a better listener. Let me know!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pop Art, Logos and Soup Cans

Pop Art Style

I teach about Pop Art more than once in 8th grade. My first lesson is based on Roy Lichtenstein's cartoons- simple shapes, bold primary colors, thick black lines and Ben-day dots. This gives the kids a good overview of the basic Pop Art style.

Soup Cans and Logos

My next Pop Art lesson is on Andy Warhol and his Campbell's Soup Can. What I do is have the kids design their own soup can with its own logo. What I use as a motivator is showing them examples of branding and logos of  different recognizable products. What really excites the kids is when I show examples of  branding and logos that are used by different sports franchises. This really gets them thinking about what type of logo they will design for their soup can.


We talk about the symbolism of different logos and the meaning of the different colors of the examples I show them. I ask lots of questions- Why do you think this symbol was chosen? Do they think there was a special meaning behind the colors use? They come up with a lot of good answers because the logos are so familiar.

Then it is time for them to make their soup can. They still have to work with the Pop Art style but they now have to design a logo for the soup can they create. 

Do you teach about Pop Art? I'd love to hear about it! You can comment below.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Making Clay Slab Suns

Clay Slabs

These are some clay sun we've made. We start by rolling out slabs and etching in a circular shape using a stencil. The kids than etch in the sun's rays in what ever style they want. After they are done designing the style of their sun, we then use clay tools to 'cut' the suns out of the slab.

Designing Features

They then roll out another thinner slab to design the features. The features can be anything- eyes, noses, mouths, tongues, or sunglasses. Whatever it is to make their sun unique. I also ask them to put some sort of texture onto the sun rays by using the clay tools. 

The features are then attached to the clay sun slab. The last step is to poke a hole through the top of the sun so we can put a wire through to hang them after they are done.


We don't have a kiln, so I use Sculpty for this project.  The Life Skills class graciously helps us by cooking the suns in their oven.

Our last step is to paint the suns with acrylic paint.

Have you ever had your art class make suns? I'd love to hear how you make them?