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  1. Thank you for that, both of you. I am relatively new to teaching, but I have had this job for two years and am moving onto my third next year. The first year was a beautiful disaster, the second a more controlled disaster and the third... I'm expecting an organized disaster. I've learned quite a bit from the hands on experience and am constantly learning. I love that I can make mistakes and own up to them with my students. To answer them, "I don't know, but I will find out" or "I don't know what will happen. Let's try it and see." is very liberating. However, safety comes first, so I ask the following... I asked Sumi about her BBQ grill method in an email (her method), but will ask here in case she doesn't reply: Any help in answering my questions would be appreciated. I want to know these before I search for or create a proper lesson plan. Again, thank you for any help that is offered. Tien
  2. Thanks, AmeriSwede. I'll do that as it seems I don't think I'll be getting much help from others on here. Tien
  3. While I understand your concern, I had hoped to avoid open critique of me and my job. That was why I tried to lay it all out. What I came here for is knowledge and it is unfortunate that some choose to withhold it for whatever reason. I am a middle school teacher - like it or not. Prior to that, I gained a degree in and was a commercial Interior Designer working in both international firms to small studios. I have freelance experience in graphic design and product design. I am creative and analytical - enough so that I kept the job I have. I have had parents come to me and tell me that their child wasn't as interested in Art before my class. I have students coming early to my class eager to help set up. I have students who stay late in order to get more one-on-one time with me. I go beyond my job description by taking the time to teach parents how to photoedit so that my students can have access to photoediting software at home. I teach a vast array of abilities from drawing to sculpting to computer illustrating. Forgive me if I haven't mastered all of them and clay as well. People come to teaching through various routes, I believe; especially with the Arts. I just read about Maria Martinez's fascinating black-on-black technique she learned through experimentation. In fact, her story isn't unique - others have fallen into making pottery and are now world renown - eagerly teaching their techniques to others. I was merely looking for a fun lesson to introduce my students to clay making. I wasn't looking to usurp the local potter who has 30 years experience. I simply felt bad that my students only had oily plasticine or brittle green clay to keep as tokens of their childhood learnings. I have a limited budget - read that as almost no budget - so I looked into finding ways to explore this medium safely without a kiln. (Thank goodness there are kind people like Sumi von Dassow, who wrote the article on BBQ kilns, who can actually answer my questions without passing judgment.) Yes, I would love to go back and learn these crafts in a university setting, but can't at this moment. I can, however, ask questions, experiment, learn from small courses, explore the Internet, and create my own projects. I am not trying to haughty - I know I have much to learn - but I was hoping to not be confronted with such a closed mentality as was present in other threads. What saddens me is that I was genuinely excited having found this forum. Instead of helping, I am told I stole a job from someone more qualified than me. Why is it that this forum is so narrow minded? Tien p.s. If it's of any concern, I am not in the US so I am not stealing an American job from "someone who is actually qualified for the position". There is a poor Swede out there ruing the day I was born, however... Me, who has a BS in Interior Design from the School of Architecture, NCIDQ qualifications, and 7 years job experience. p.p.s. By the way, you know what I gathered in piecemeal off the the Internet to teach my kids? Google pysanky, dorodango, toro nagashi... Tell me, did you know how to make any of those? Probably not. I learned these and taught these techniques to my students. p.p.p.s. Here is some of my student's work ages 12-14. I sat at the back of the class staring out the window the whole while. It's horrible that they learn nothing from me.
  4. Hi, just saw you online and thought I'd say hi. I am seeking advice on basic pottery to teach my middle-schoolers. I want to teach them the absolute basic stuff and want to try experimenting with makeshift kilns (the most interesting thus far is a BBQ grill kiln).

    If you have some time, I was hoping to get some advice. Any help would be appreciated. In fact, I'm willing...

  5. Having read another thread dealing more with high school students, I guess I should add a bit more information. I want to teach them the most basic of techniques - how to use natural materials that are easily found to create their pieces. The more basic the better. I really want them to see that they can create nice, long lasting pieces without needing a kiln, a pottery wheel and a slew of glazes. I love the idea of limited resources in order to foster innovation. (One of my lessons, for instance, teaches the method of dorodango - Japanese mudballs. It's not assessed, but teaches them patience and pride in craft.) The pieces I want them to create wouldn't be very big - not much bigger than an ashtray or a sake bottle. It would be for around 30-40 students. I have them 1.3 hours a week and can extend this project to however long or short I want, though ideally it wouldn't go beyond four weeks. As to how I will link this academically, I am not yet sure. I will have the summer to try to think of some connection. Perhaps I could discuss a cross-curricular activity with the humanities teacher. Any high school teachers out there willing to share their lesson plans? Thanks again, Tien
  6. Hello, I am a "new" middle school Art teacher coming from a design background. I was called in to substitute for an Art teacher who was sick and soon after passed away. The school liked me enough to keep me and I appreciate that, especially not having had much in the way of pedagogical training. I preface with that because I have limited experience with the Arts, actually, never having painted or sculpted - my background education is in Architecture/Interior Design. That said, I know nothing about pottery aside from the very topical research I've done. However, I want to try it with my older students - age 14 or so. However, we have no kiln and money is limited. I have read on here about BBQ grill kilns, pit kilns, brick kilns and such. If I may, here are some questions I have: 1) How dangerous is it to work with pottery? Aside from possible burns due to improper handling, are there any dangers one must consider? I am sure explosions is a major one. How can one prevent these dangers? 2) How can one make an affordable, easy kiln? What is the best recommendation for the typical "weekend hobbyist"? Is a decent option a BBQ kiln? Imagine only having money to purchase paper clay. 3) What techniques can I successfully introduce to them in a short period of time? I don't need them to know *everything* about pottery - an introduction to get them started is fine. Are there cheap, but beautiful techniques one can use to create nice pieces? I read in an article, just covering green clay in newspaper and aluminum foil or masking tape can produce a nice effect. 4) What is the minimum time that I can fire clay to make it durable enough to take home. It needn't be a work of perfection. It needn't even hold water (though that would be nice). It is highly unlikely that I can have things run over night - at most maybe 8-9 hours. 5) Any other bits of advice for a novice who is trying to teach novices? (In other words, the blind leading the deaf.) Before this thread degrades into a discussion about my education abilities, let me add that I am trying my best to give the students an introduction into the arts that I didn't have. I am learning and fully admit that I don't know everything that perhaps pedagogically trained Art teachers do. I believe the students enjoy my class because I take these kinds of risks - learning things that I don't know in order to teach them. I am hoping and trying to create varied, though economically limited lesson plans, one of which is pottery. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance. Tien
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