This week I didn’t come in early to speak with Millie; I just started setting up the whiteboard for the erasing meanness exercise. Using suggested words from the website, it took me about 20 minutes to set up a small whiteboard, as their were only 11 students I didn’t think we would need a big board. At 1 o’clock I met Millie to help carry the materials for the lesson, this week we were in the dining hall so that was cleaned before we began the lesson. The main issue with this set up was that my mac wouldn’t connect to the projector so the class had to gather around my laptop for most of it! Millie also mentioned at the start that I shouldn’t use chocolate for every session because then they will expect it but also because they were trying to use the chocolate to show off to other children not in the class.
Last lesson creating the self-portraits was quite rushed but the students also cheated, refusing to use their non-writing hand or looking at the paper when I wasn’t watching them. I was determined to make them re-do this, I created a device using a cardboard box to stop them looking at the paper. Two students at a time could use this box whilst the others created their portraits using their ‘wrong’ hand. I wanted to also make self-portraits using fingerprints but I didn’t have the equipment to get them to do so quickly and efficiently. I think this exercise went a lot better this week and they all made a good attempt at the work. Perhaps I could do the fingerprints at the beginning of the next lesson.
I began by showing the students a video about bullying, then we discussed how one person in the video made a difference, I thought this would be a really good exercise to make them think about bullying but the response was mainly about how one group would be able to take on another and fight. When I showed them the board, we discussed the words on it; what they meant and why they aren’t good things. I then asked them to replace meanness with kind words- using the question how do you want to be remembered as a starting point. Although at first some seemed anxious once they started they kept coming back to add words. One student said that he didn’t want to be remembered and that he didn’t care, I was unsure at this point if he was being genuine or just didn’t want to participate in the exercise. After everyone had written 2 kind words I asked everyone to sit down and give a positive word for this student; essentially what they would put for him. I then asked him if he thought that any of these could be his word and he chose Active, but still seemed frustrated at having to put it on the board.
After this I showed them a slideshow about Joseph Cornell and his work, as an introduction to them making the boxes. I also showed them my own box before going around the room and getting them to tell me what kind of thing they would put in theirs. A few of them struggled and Millie stepped in saying what she would do on her ideal day, then asked them how she could translate that into a box about her. We then let them start working on their boxes with the materials that Millie and I had also brought with us, I went around and helped where they needed it and tried to get to know them a little bit. Some of the students really worked hard on their boxes and made a fantastic effort, others really didn’t seem to be trying and I hope that is just because they didn’t bring what they wanted to put in it rather than they just weren’t interested. As time was running out I went around and tried to get an idea of what everyone planned to put in their box so that next week I can print off some extra bits incase they forget, also it gave me the opportunity to chat with them more.
Overall it was about half and half with their behavior, some were really well behaved others were quite disruptive or just didn’t want to engage. Those who were being disruptive were kept back, Millie asked them if they were enjoying these sessions and if they wanted to continue. It was good to see that they all did and I was glad that Millie has warned them that if they don’t behave well that they will no longer be allowed to participate because I hope it encourages them to pay attention and not misbehave.
What I’ve learnt
Once again I set out to do more than I had time for, but this time I was prepared to just cut it out and knew I could just use it in the next session. I also realised that the Cornell boxes were going to be a 2-session activity, which was great because it gives them a chance to go home and think about it more. As the children that have been selected to do this are those who are vulnerable it was always likely that behavior would be an issue to think about for each session, I just hope that next week we see an improvement. I think I need to schedule time after each session to reflect on the lesson, by doing this at the end of Lesson Two I realised that they had forgotten the first half, the erasing meanness exercise, so I think without jogging their memory it’s going to be challenging for them to complete the Arts Award program.