The day started off with me teaching the Grade 6's their first ukulele lesson. I arrived in the classroom while they were still silent reading because I needed to tune the ukuleles. Of course, they were all distracted the minute I arrived there with my uke. They were still pretty good about pretending to read for the most part though! Their music teacher decided to join because he wanted to learn how to play as well, so I ended up teaching the Grade 6's, the music teacher, their classroom teacher, and another PSII student teacher. I had planned to only teach them the basics of frets, finger numbers, and 2 chords but they were getting it really quick so I went ahead and taught them 2 more chords. After our first lesson, they were able to play 4 different chords. To close the lesson I told them which songs I intended on teaching them for our performance next week and that they already know 3 or the 4 chords. I asked them to sing with me as I strummed so they could hear what it would sound like when it all comes together in the next 3 practices. It was great! I was very impressed with their abilities. I had talked to my ukulele director about song suggestions for beginners and she said some of the songs I wanted to do may be too difficult for beginners, but I think these Grade 6's are capable of more. The two songs I want to perform for sure are Blue Moon and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. For Blue Moon, I'm hoping I can get them to strum and sing in parts. It may be a bit of a challenge but if all else fails, they can at least strum and sing the simple part while I sing the verses over their accompaniment. Another option if they can't sing and play at the same time is to have some of the students strum, and some of the students sing parts, and then switch.
The Language Arts 8 class presented their famous person speeches today and it was amazing! This is one of the assignments I've really enjoyed watching come together. In this culmination event, the students came dressed as their character, and there were some refreshments, sort of like a cocktail party. Speeches were done by Rosa Parks, Coco Chanel, Anne Frank, Cleopatra, Helen Keller, "Magic" Johnson, Don Cherry, Steve Jobs, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Norris, and Marilyn Munroe. Abraham Lincoln presented last Thursday because that student is off doing volunteer work this week. All the speeches were great. I was thoroughly impressed with the high quality of their speeches and the amount of preparation the students must've gone through. Their costumes were fun. This is one of my TA's assignments that I would be interested in using in the future.
During the Language Arts 9 classes I witnessed one student challenge my TA. He was being more difficult than usual and my TA had trouble getting him to do work. I believe there was some sort of miscommunication about an assignment, or he just forgot what he was supposed to do. She also discussed the importance of deadlines to her junior high students because she was consistently getting late assignments. In some cases, assignments were up to a few weeks late. She instilled a new rule that if your assignment is due and you're not done, you can come in that day at lunch to finish as much as you can and she will mark what you have. I think this is a good compromise because students are given more than enough time to complete their assignments.
I taught the last 3 blocks of the day, beginning with the Grade 1/2's. One of my students came up excitedly to me before my lesson to tell me about the comic he started at home over the weekend. He said he had a panda and another character that was a Rhino and a Monkey. I asked him what he was going to call him and after thinking for awhile, he exclaimed, "RhineMonkey!" It was really cute and a positive thing to hear how excited my students are about creating their own comics.
Today I taught gesture drawing to all three blocks. The Grade 1/2's grasped the concept pretty well although it may have been a little above some of their comprehension. I noted a few students who had trouble and seemed a little bit frustrated and tried to work with them a little more to provide additional guidance. In the next lesson we will look at drawing the figure with joints and lines. I'm hoping this concept might be easier for those who struggled today. The students were so excited and engaged in the gesture drawing activity that they were quite loud. For the most part I was okay with this but I had to calm them down a few times when it was becoming unbearable for me. My TA thought I handled it pretty well and it was great to see how engaged they were. She suggested that I might stop after every 5 poses and give the students some time to share with a neighbour as an alternative method to try. This makes a lot of sense in hindsight because the younger students have shorter attention spans than some of the older ones. Another suggestion was to try and utilize classroom assistants if they are present. For the Gr.1/2's I'm blessed with an assistant so I could try and plan for her help in my lessons to optimize my teaching, whether it be handing out papers or working with a particular group of students. Although this group is the largest of my classes I really enjoy working with them and seeing their progress. An art class of almost 30 little students is not an ideal situation but I'm glad they are having fun learning with me!
Next up was the Grade 8/9 split followed by the Grade 7/8/9 split classes to end the day. After using my teacher voice lots in the Gr.1/2 classes I requested that the 8/9's try not to be too loud, but of course, this was only about 50% effective. Besides feeling like I'm losing my voice, I saw lots of good work from the students. I decided that the Junior High Students were capable of understanding the concepts faster so I combined the 1st and 2nd parts of Gesture/Figure drawing into one lesson. We started with gesture drawing, and then they also learned about drawing the figure by examining positions of joints. Originally I was going to combine the 2nd and 3rd parts but I decided that the Power Ranger lesson was a lot more fun and deserved a full class. In the last class, I had the student that had proved to be a challenge earlier in a day, and he continued to be a bit of a challenge. I discovered that he's quite artistic, however, and he worked well for the most part. He had his phone out for a bit but he put it away when I asked him to. I wish I knew more ways to manage a large group of teenagers! It seems a difficult thing to do, even for experienced teachers!