I was a little nervous because not only was it my first lesson, it was also my first time meeting this group of students. My TA was very reassuring and comforting beforehand and told me that she still gets a little anxious at the beginning of the school year. The lesson ran out pretty smoothly and within my estimated times. I started off with a very brief introduction about myself and my Dino & Panda characters, and then showed them examples of cartoons with a few vocabulary words I felt important for them to know: Anime, Cartoon, Comic Strip, Comic book, and Manga.
The first image I showed them was from Hayao Miyazaki's movie, Spirited Away and I think the strangeness of it was a good attention grabber. I asked questions such as What do you see? Have you seen this movie before? What is the strangest thing you see? I had about 6 or 7 examples and asked a bunch of questions for each one. I tried to provide a variety of questions at different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. After explaining what a Cartoon was (a one panel comic), I elicited what a definition of a Comic Strip might be (it has a series of 3-4 panels), and then if it was a 30 page comic, it would be a comic book. The students were really excited to see the different examples, some of which they were familiar with.
I was originally going to do my demo on a large sheet of paper with a huge marker, but I ended up just drawing on the board. I wasn't used to drawing on the board with whiteboard markers so my example wasn't as nice as I wanted it to look, but the students still could follow the steps and draw anime faces with me. I need to work on how to explain what I'm drawing because I feel like there was a bit of "and then you draw like this" sort of dialogue happening. It wasn't a big deal because they had a visual, but I think a verbal description would help aural learners. I also think for my next lesson with the 3/4's I will try to draw the head bigger.
I gave each student a copy of my drawing notes with a step by step guide on drawing a girl face and a boy face as well as my Dino & Panda characters, different types of anime eyes, noses, mouths, and hairstyles so they could practice on their own. I think it was a good choice to just draw the sheets myself because it shows them I know what I'm doing and I have experience with this type of art, as opposed to if I were to just print something I found off the internet. My TA commented that when the kids realized I drew their handouts, they had a sort of instant respect that might otherwise be hard to gain.
Feedback from my TA was really positive, with a few things to consider. While I was teaching the lesson I was thinking I should've gotten their names at the beginning of class so I could call on specific students to answer questions instead of pointing. Another strategy might have been to call a name off my attendance sheet, but I was mostly concerned with getting through my lesson. I got each of the students to write their names on the back of their practice drawing with their favourite animal and cartoon character at the end of class as a sort of exit-slip. As closure, I asked the students to tell me a few things they learned today, and something they might want to learn more about, and then I let them draw till the bell rang. My TA said this was a good strategy: to have the closure a few minutes before and allow students to continue working. This works if there's not much to clean up, but if I were teaching a painting unit, then clean-up would be more of an issue.
My TA suggested that I expand on my self-introduction so the students can learn more about who I am because I went through pretty quickly and jumped into my lesson material even though students were pretty interested in seeing more of my artwork. She felt that throughout the lesson I made enough linkages to myself and my interests that they got a pretty good idea of who I am anyway, but I will try to show more of my own artwork in subsequent lessons. I hope this will inspire them and get them excited about learning cartooning with me! There were a few more suggestions which I will take into consideration for the next lessons. I was quite relieved that the lesson went well and the students were engaged in the subject.
My fellow PSII student teacher who is with the grade 6's told me they continued to show their enthusiasm when they returned to class, and a few of them stayed in at recess to continue drawing. One boy gave her a drawing to give to me. Again, I'm finding that I love the younger grades more because they aren't afraid to give you their drawings and tell you their stories. I haven't taught the junior high students yet, but I feel like they would be less inclined to give me little pictures they draw in class. I'm considering telling them that the younger kids give me drawings and I wish they would too...but maybe after we get to know each other a little more so they won't think I'm too weird.