Ceramics 1-4, grades 9-12 all in the same room. 18 Ceramics 1- all handbuilding; 6 Ceramics 2- all throwing (and surface embellishments); 3 Ceramics 3 and 3 Ceramics 4- Combo of hand building and throwing, functional and non-functional focus.
In this post I will focus on showing ONLY ceramics 1 so as to keep this clear and concise.
UPDATE: I have added what the Bootcamps look like for Ceramics 2, 3, and 4 at the bottom.
Quarter 1:Bootcamps: 1-2 week boot camps (depending on the schedule and technique):
-Hard and Soft Slab
Midterm: Bootcamp Rubric Assessment and (Beginning of Growth Portfolio) Reflections (Formative Grading ONLY)
Pinch pots went from the same old lidded pot or animal or sgraffito'ed hollow ball or whistle (which are all very cool, don't get me wrong... but they all looked the same) to this:
This became a SAFE, FORMATIVE PRACTICE for the students to explore how the clay worked without feeling like it had to be perfect on the first go. They got to see what worked and what didn't, what they liked, what they didn't, what the limitations of the clay were, or practice their fine motor skills... all for relatively low risk.
Coil: Students first created bowls (for our empty bowls event) by creating coils and pressing into the existing bowl. They then created mini coil vessels using a template they create.
By allowing my students to problem solve what THEY wanted to create, using the same skills and techniques I needed them to demonstrate, students will push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of creating. This is because they WANT to create the artwork and have genuine interest in the overall success of the outcome.
Glaze: Students learn about the various glazes we have available to us and how they work. This way, students have a choice to experiment on their small formative works to see what that glaze looks like when fired. A lot of students enjoyed this because they later used these pieces when making decisions on their SUMMATIVE ARTWORKS.
Please forgive this horrendous photo of my rubric. My computer crashed and I can't find the original. If I find it, I will repost it.
Students filled this out and provided Evidence of their Growth from project (in this case I kinda' use this word because they are safe practice pieces) to project. We have a huge literacy push currently; students are expected to provide a claim statement and provide evidence. While I do this for everything I teach anyway, I feel this is a great tracker for documenting growth and understanding, documenting for your evaluation, and a great FORMATIVE practice for students to rewrite in preparation for their artist statements later on.
Again, I grade this all as formative for low risk and buy-in. Now... even though this is all formative grading, these are the ONLY grades in the grade book. The summative grades (which will be worth more) don't come into the grade book until Q2 when they create their "artworks." So, even though these formative grades will eventually wash out mostly, they show as higher risk for their overall grade. So, that's great for the kids who need a little reminder that, indeed, ceramics is not a blow off, but you will also have to remind other kids (you know the ones... they stress over everything!) that these grades will not be worth as much in the long run, and not to worry! Because, after all, this is just practice... when you go to APPLY what you've learned, you will have a chance to SHINE!
Note: This is also the time I have them create their Google Slides portfolio, ensuring that they have their images of their work in there from the bootcamps. I will show you what those portfolios look like in my next post on Q2.
Quarter 2: (Watch for my next post!)
3 Artworks based on Artistic Behaviors, demonstrating skills learned, using concepts of their choice. Students filled out a Project Proposal for their intended artwork. (See below). They could take "as long as" needed, but needed to budget their own time on the scale and complexity of the artwork. In some cases, if a student was creating a very complex artwork, they might be waived from having to complete 3 artworks down to 2. Each Artwork has a rubric/self assessment and artist statement and title to be stapled with the proposal and planning sheets and turned in with the completed artwork for a grade.
Final Exam: Growth Portfolio (Google Slides) Completed with Course Reflection
Ceramics 2, 3, & 4: The Bootcamps:
Ceramics 2 spends the semester learning fundamentals of how to throw on the wheel.
I set up the following Bootcamps for them, with each one having multiple video references on Canvas (our platform much like Blackboard), formative checks after each skill:
1. The wheel (parts of, tools, other equipment)
2. Wedging (a review)
3. Centering, Pulling a wall
4. Throwing 3 cylinders of various heights and widths
5. Throwing 3 bowls of various heights and widths
6. Throwing 3 vases of various heights and forms
7. Pulling a Handle
8. Throwing 3 plates of various sizes
For each set, students receive formative grades based on the piece in greenware state.
For each set, students then choose an Artistic Behavior, create a project proposal, and then modify or embellish to demonstrate their concept. These then receive a summative grade as artwork. While their technique is still part of the summative grade, it is how they address the form to convey meaning that is weighted. They submit proposal with planning and research, as well as an artist statement and title for their summative grade.
Ceramics 3 & 4:
Begin by demonstrating their throwing proficiency, teaching the 2's how to throw and then throw 3 "perfect" 8" cylinders. This keeps them busy so I can teach the 1's, and flip flop to the 2's. I don't teach bootcamps up front with them, as I'm not sure how I could truly be teaching and demo-ing to all 4 levels all within the first two weeks. They begin with their cylinders, I cut them in half lengthwise to look at the wall and technique, and toss them into reclaim once they have 3 A's in the books. While they are working on that in class, they continue outside to develop through the Artistic Behaviors. We discuss what that means, and how they will then be spending the semester developing 3 "MAJOR" Artworks. I explain that "MAJOR" means that the pieces are sets of works, an installation of some sort, or something elaborate and/or complex in meaning and technique. Some might say, how do you know if it fits this description? I say... I don't. When a student proposes something, I push them to think further and further until we are all happy with where the piece(s) will "end up." Obviously a lot can change during the execution phase as well, so there is built in flexibility. I find that the best accountability is to have consistent conversations with the students, questioning their work, thinking through ideas, getting peer feedback. Some students will research ideas and artists and decide that they want to try something such as throwing a closed form, throwing a lid, adding a variety of materials after firing, try an experimental glazing technique, slumping glass, etc. It is in that I hold the quick "bootcamps" for these kids. We pause for a day or two, everyone watches and tries these skills, but not all students will want to actually utilize that skill in their artwork. That's okay with me. Making very specific choices on how to create/construct their particular artwork is essential. We aren't here to force them to create artwork (at this point in their career) around that form or skill, but give them the opportunity to learn that skill and decide if they would like to use it to create their artwork.
In the next post I will share with you my planning sheets, project proposals, rubrics, student examples, growth portfolios, and more.
A shout out to my friend and colleague who taught me a lot about teaching ceramics, Shay Rehs! While we don't necessarily teach the same way, it is her structure that allowed me to fumble less through this process and have a great foundation from which to start!