I began by explaining that after Christmas my colleague at the studios would be coming in, and that we should come up with some questions to ask him. Hands went up straight away, which I was pleased about because I thought I would have to give examples and encourage them to suggest questions. I wrote up the questions to save time and Millie helped them by suggesting they think back to a class where they had to think of open questions.


Collaboration Piece


For the next activity I wanted everyone to work together to create one piece, starting by getting them to put themselves on the paper and draw around it; either lay down entirely, just put a hand or leg in the picture etc. This started off well; they seemed really excited by it especially when they started using the paint, we talked about different techniques they could use but what I should have done is told them what technique to use so they all did different things. Instead by giving them free rein they mostly just coloured it in, but whether that is important or not I don’t know, it gave them a chance to express themselves how they wanted to and that was by ignoring the lines put down.



Story Web


I had time to do the photography exercise with them and I’m really glad that I did because it worked well; I began by asking the children to pick a photograph from the 10 I brought in. Once they had chosen a photograph, stood in a circle they were told to tell a story relating to the photograph as I threw a ball of string to each of them. This created a web of our stories and shows how we were all connected. It worked fantastically with them, I loved how they got excited seeing the web grow and saying things like “It’s so tangled, I can see the web growing!” Once they had finished we put the photographs and string down so I could take a picture to document it.





Overall, although it was the end of term and they were really excitable, they did manage to get the work done. Unfortunately at the beginning 2 of them were sent out because they refused to join in, but Millie spoke to them and one of them had just had a bad lunch time, became quite upset so she let him calm down, sit out for 5 minutes and join in again. I think they have been very well behaved,




This week setup was short and sweet as there wasn’t much that needed doing, I had brought with me some worksheets I’d created to fill the gap of the logbooks for the time being, as I felt last week the whiteboard were fun but took too much time.


Cornell Boxes


We spent the first 45 minutes finishing off the Cornell boxes instead of 30 because it took 10-15 minutes for them to decide they wanted to use some paint as well as the materials we had brought with us. Also the photographing at the end took a little while as some of them were upset that they hadn’t finished. Overall the children were all happy with how their boxes turned out, we didn’t get a chance for a show and tell so I’m hoping that after Christmas for the meeting with Tim we can bring it their and have the discussion then.





I asked the children last week to bring in a photograph that they had a story to tell with it, but none of them remembered. So we started off by getting the children to draw their picture or write about their picture and then share it with everyone. This meant that I couldn’t do the photography installation that I planned, but I thought instead we would spend it sharing stories to get them to understand how they can relate to any photograph. When I took out the slides, the children were so excited! I loved that they were so interested in the old technology, they all took it in turns to look at the photos in the light and then we discussed what they thought of the photographs. I filmed this sharing of stories and I think it was great that the children managed to all come up with their own stories. I wanted to get them to make up a story as well but we were running out of time.





Today I explained to them briefly about Arts Award, because it is a challenge to get my group of students to write so by telling them why it spurred them on to make a real effort at completing the worksheets. I plan to spend the week checking that I have done everything to fulfill the criteria for them getting the Arts Award as well as preparing them for after Christmas meeting David from the studios.






This week they were mostly well behaved, a couple of students stood out but Millie had explained that one had been having a bad week due to personal circumstances so I had expected him to act out, but after I took him aside to chat with him he made a real effort to get on with the work. Another student who is often easily distracted, wasn’t getting on so I also spoke to him alone and after that he came up to me saying “I tried really hard to concentrate, is this good enough?” and I felt really proud of him. I feel that the children have really made an effort with the project and I hope that it shows through in their work so they can achieve their arts award.




Unfortunately during this week I found out that the log books used for Arts Award are currently being remade and are at the printers now, which means they won’t be ready for use until next year. So I explained this to Millie at the start and asked if she could bring mini whiteboards so I could do a quiz with the children to see what they remember. I will try to do this each week so they have pictures to remind them and stick in their logbooks. Other than that setup this week was straight forward, I just had to bring in all the children’s boxes that I had kept safe in my studio.


Finger Personalities


This work looks at how our personalities change depending on who we are with, whether it’s with your friends, parents or meeting someone for the first time and to make it personal to them, these descriptions were put in an outline of their hands. I showed them my example and explained it so they could also get to know me a bit better in order for them to feel like they can share with me too. I handed out a personality trait sheet as well to guide them if they were struggling with words to use; I think this was really helpful as a lot of them used it as a starting point. While they were working I had the opportunity to talk to each of them individually about their personalities and how they behaved outside the classroom. The really important part of this was discussing with them why they were like this, for some children they acknowledged that they misbehaved for attention or others that they were shy because they didn’t feel confident in certain lessons etc. One of the students worried me a little bit after saying that he couldn’t write about how he was with his friends because he didn’t have any friends. Knowing there must be a reason he thought this, rather than saying ‘You must have some friends?’ I thought it would be much more appropriate to find out why he felt that he didn’t have anyone. He said that since he moved to the school 2 years ago he found it difficult to get friends when everyone already had friends because he is shy. I decided that rather than focus on this I would ask him about other times his personality might be different and then I would keep an eye on him throughout the next few lessons. After everyone had 5 different personalities written down, I explained that during the next exercise I would be taken them away to film them talking about these personalities. My aim for this was to get them more confident talking to me one to one but also to record their thoughts and feelings.


Cornell Boxes


I wanted these boxes to be finished by the end of this lesson, but they are still working on them so next lesson I will give them half an hour and if they want to continue it will have to be on their own time. I was really impressed by their enthusiasm this lesson with their boxes, I managed to speak with all of them and help some of them with techniques for building a shelf inside it or strengthening the outside.



All of the children were nervous, but I liked that they began to reassure each other throughout the lesson. It was a good opportunity to talk to each of them without the rest of the class listening, I felt that some of the louder children really opened up and behaved a lot better. Some admitting that when they are in front of everyone they want to show off and be the joker of the class. I thought it was very mature of them to do this and felt very proud that all of them made a good effort to talk to me on camera. Unfortunately because I didn’t have a tripod I had to perch the camera on the windowsill and therefore couldn’t check that the camera was entirely in focus, meaning that some of the footage is focusing on the background. Also the sound isn’t very clear because the space we were working in reverberates quite a lot, especially with 8 children talking loudly with each other! I’m hoping when I get a chance next week to have a look at the footage on Premiere Pro to see whether I can edit it at all.




At the end of the lesson I asked the children a series of questions in order for them to have something towards their arts Award logbooks. A few of them struggled with thinking 2 weeks ago, which is a shame because I feel perhaps if I had the time last week they would have done a lot better. So perhaps next week I will ask a few of the same questions. A couple of students really stood out and wrote some precise and well thought out answers, which really impressed me.




This week the behavior was really good, they all listened when they were told and made a good effort with all the work we did together. Unfortunately one student has left the group, he didn’t participate very well last week and came in this week with the same attitude so Millie took him outside to speak with him but he didn’t want to attend anymore. Although it is sad to lose a student, I think it has benefited the class, I can pay attention to the children that want to be here even if they misbehave at the end of the day they do want to improve. I feel he wouldn’t have got anything out of my workshops if he didn’t want to participate.


Set Up


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.


Self Portraits


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.


Erasing Meanness


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.



Cornell Boxes


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.