The weather was quite cold and windy so the middle school aged kids were quite "squirrelly" (if that is a word) By Friday, they were "at each other, physically and socially" and it took constant vigilance and quick interventions. Last period Friday was the most challenging and took most of my depleted patience. On top of that, the district policy to cover classes without subs with "sub's preps" rubs me the wrong way. I was forced once again to cover a Pre-Algebra Class of 34 who didn't know what they were doing, mostly and had an incomplete lesson plan with missing parts. Lots of raised hands for "help" and we were running to them and bringing them other work so they wouldn't get up out of their seats and "socialize enroute". I was further frustrated because I was supposed to "clean up" the paints etc. for the next classes during art class prep time. We have "T.A.'s" (teacher assistants, students) but they don't really do that much in the cleaning department and there just isn't time during the period, even with a 10 minute clean up time. We were working with indelible watercolors in three periods and "cloggy poster paints" in two periods. They dry quickly in the pallettes and/or get washed out into the sink and clog it up.
The assignments were brilliant and very exacting for this age level. (mostly unappreciated by them also) "Amate" (Amatl) Paper is from the Pre-Colombian Mexican era. It is fibrous paper hand-made and dipped in brown ink. On this, or with this media the artist-student was suppossed to decorate it with simple, but beautifully colorful objects of "amor" i.e. birds, flowers, or skulls, snakes alligators. This is only done with about 5 basic colors. The rest are mixed. The wider, thicker brushes and too much water left much to be desired in most cases. Many of the majority of Hispanic Students were into it and doing their best. Several of the "perfectionist" girls were reluctant to start painting and quite disappointed with their results. Mostly they were more "into each other" and the usual "posing" and "primping". I made the mistake of allowing ipod listening "as long as it didn't distract and interfere with the art work". Good luck on that. They were engrossed in all their "tunes" and "raps" and were sharing earphones.
The other challenging assigment had to do with the ancient, medieval decoration and illustration of texts. i.e. Monks in Monasteries and those ornate capital letters. They were to use only their own initials and fill up the page with ornamentations and intricate decorations around them and within them. They were to do it on onion skin with watercolors. They checked out 3 "special watercolor brushes" at a time. It was very exacting and tedious work and these students, believe me, were not monks or nuns in the convents and abbeys. They could embellish the lines with black "sharpie" and "gold paint" They got carried away with this. Several thought they were done "early" and wanted to go on to the next project "rubric" I tried to challenge them to put some "secret codes" into their illustrati like the Da Vinci Code (a la Albino Monks) No luck, on takers. Most didn't know what I was talking about. So the next assignment was to decorate a gourd or make an "Ukranian Egg" Wow! First they were to pick a dried gourd from a double closet or decide to design and draw a pattern on an "Egg Template" Most chose the gourd. Then they were to sand it. Up until the last two periods we couldn't find the sandpaper. Then we realized it wasn't paper but a box of "crusty sponges". Kids argued and joked about the gourds. Good luck on that rubric.
One class was trying to "tie up a small boy" in a "knot". I told them about the "Gordian Knot" and "Alexander"...some interest. One class was so good, I offered popcorn on Friday if it continued. One of the "less popular kids" brought in a bin of microwavable popcorn before school on Fri. and I added my "Orville Reddenbacher" and they were happy for about the last 10 minutes shaing "paper towels of popcorn". I had to remind them to thank the kid they usually "scapegoat" and pick-on. (big at this age) One of the best "T A's" almost blew the whole thing by trying to get in a fight with I kid bigger than him. I had to threaten the big "R" (referral). Another girl got the same for "persistant refusal"...she wouldn't stop talking to her "friends, combing her hair and facing the back of the room. Yearbook digital cameras, usually borrowed, didn't get returned...one did. Oh yes, there is still a yearbook class, mostly on computer now. Most kids were playing games on the computers or making posters for the upcoming basketball game with the "arch rival" middle school. You can probably see why I'll probably be reluctant to return. There isn't much "teaching or rubrics" being done at this level, even in the best of times. RRR