Monday, May 25, 2009

Primary School Debating

Please visit the debating wiki I've set up for our primary school debating team - I think it holds a lot of promise for developing and maintaining an ongoing discussion amongst the students. I think to start small and grow is a good start, rather than attempt the tower of Babel with similar consequences!

I'd really love your feedback - just drop me a line on the wiki. Hmm, I wonder from where that idiom originates? Yes, I could find out myself right now haha! but unfortunately I know that this initial enquiry would lead to a much more extensive search and in my goal to prioritise, I'll have to give this a miss.

Now I know why they're called mind maps...but if only I could stop veering off the primary nodes!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Teacher Workshop @ the Art Gallery of NSW

Around September last year, promotion for the exhibition Monet and the Impressionists at the AGofNSW started making itself seen. I delved into finding out about it and was just so chuffed to discover that a Teacher Workshop on the exhibition was also being run. Oh my goodness, what a way to spend a day. I adore the Gallery, Monet, Impressionism, painting, drawing, sketching and teaching so I was in seventh heaven! I've never been able to visually gulp enough Impressionist art, and visiting the Musay D'Orsay only helped to deepen my hunger for it! I'll be honest and say that I kind of used the Teacher Workshop as a way of seeing the exhibition with a personal tour, getting educated further about my favourite artist and style and being able to do a "workshop" was a mere side attraction. It turned out that it was even better than I anticipated (and my expectations were very high!)

One of the best parts was the workshop aspect of the afternoon. I'd imagined it would involve a mini lecture-style imparting of information with a few resources thrown our way, but happily how wrong that turned out to be. It was completely hands-on; demoing with explanations and the rest of the remaining hour we got on with trying it out for ourselves. There was that warm afternoon sunlight atmosphere - delicious! And then to be surrounded by others who are on a like-wavelength is always a joy.

If you're a little familiar with the Gallery, at the far end of Ground (entrance) level you may have noticed this large glassed-off space. I'd always wondered what that was about and how to 'get' in there. I did wander in there once but didn't find anything out. Well that's where the hands-on part was held and now I'm keen to get back into that area! I think that there's a common misconception that some forms of art are 'lofty', when they're not. It's all for everyone - don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

* Tinted card
* Water-colour paper
* Oil pastels (remove black and limit range)
* Water colours (again, remove black)
* Laminated colour copies of Monet's paintings
* Paintbrush and water

Use: A copy of a painting, thick tinted paper (small sheet) and oil pastels.
Focus: Capturing an impression. Colour blending, line direction and stroke contrasts.

Use: A copy of an impressionist painting, own oil pastel sketch, water-colour paper, water-colour paints, brush, water.
Focus: Block out areas of colour (thinly) as a background for below.

Use: A copy of an impressionist painting, own oil pastel sketch, water-coloured background, oil pastels
Focus: Use different stroke types and colour-blending.

Something I didn't take a picture of but I wish I had now, were the colour cards that illustrated colour blending with oil pastels. They were also laminated and used the simple equation

**small square of strokes in a particular colour**
**small square of strokes in another colour**
**small square with combined strokes of both colours showing the resulting affect**

I will make some up in a few school holidays' time and stick up some pics.

From this, students can then move on to working from photographs to en plein air like the great masters. The discovery of a lot of rich, background information (significant in the true teaching and learning of art) was a fascinating part of the workshop and although I haven't elaborated on it in this space, it shouldn't be overlooked or underestimated.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Setting Professional Goals

Telly Monster and I are definitely on the same wavelength.

"Poor Telly's Tuba!" I hear you empathise. Well, that's me with my teaching!

So many thoughts and ideas throw themselves into my stream of consciousness that I lose most of them before I can commit them to a more secure format than my feeble memory! So I could have started this blog at quite a number of points, generally school-related professional development memos to myself, but this evening I'm just going to bite the bullet and jot down a brief comment that I'm determined to devise a formal "plan" for achieving.

I must confess to being a bit, okay, a LOT of a "not now, later!" person, as tasks that can seem insurmountable leave me feeling insufficiently equipped to tackle them, hence they remain static on my "to do" list! Yet now having identified my difficulty, rather than let myself fluff and flounder (as was the case last year, recurring thoughts of which result in macabre flashbacks!) I'm going to create a scaffold for skills development, most notably in behaviour management.

The (cyclical) process for now:

* Identify a skill I need to establish, develop and/or strengthen
* Outline the explicit steps in specific contexts that I will take to achieve the skill
* Engage in my self-prescribed learning sequence
* Reflect and self-evaluate

But like Telly Monster, there's help at hand :)

...and thank goodness for that, because I'm sure we all find the going tough from time to time!

By putting this online I'm selfishly making myself more accountable, thus increasing my likelihood of success *smile*, but also importantly, it might be a support to someone else who's starting out in teaching, even if just as a quiet supportive voice in the background.