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Teaching Throwing To High School Students

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Hi all I am a high school ceramic teacher. Does anyone have a good way to teach throwing to a class of 30 students. I only have five wheels and the class is so big therefore getting everyone on the wheels at the same time is impossible. So any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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I teach High School in Omaha Ne and have class loads similar in size.  Fortunately we have 14 wheels to navigate (7 electric and 7 kick), but when we get to the throwing units I split the class into groups.  Half throw on the wheel for X amount of days and those not throwing work on an extended hand built project then they switch.  Being limited to 5 wheels, I'm not sure what you could do aside from "partner throwing."  (we do this the first week of the new semester)  They take notes one day and the following class period they spend working with their partner as a coach.  Helping them through the steps.  I love it.  Gives them a chance to be the teacher for a day or two.  It will be interesting to see what you come up with.  Best of luck!!

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I taught Ceramics in HS for 34 years. Your numbers, and your lack of resources would mean that your class should be more of a handbuilding/throwing class. I would consider my school year. If teaching semester courses, 90 days roughly, 15 days for wheel throwing, rotating around with handbuilt projects doing a majority of the time. This would really be tough, but better than nothing. When I was teaching, I set things up differently. I built a Ceramics 1 curriculum, than added a Ceramics 2. The 2's had to have had 1, and my approval to enter. 6 students were the class limit, as I only had 6 wheels. I taught both 1's and 2's during the same time frame. Ceramics 1 was limited to 20 students. 26 was the top class. Truth of the matter is though, my administration was very aware of the amount of work that went in to the class, as when they observed they could see that not a moment was wasted, even when space was at 30 students in early years. They asked for my recommendations to solve the problem as they saw it. I gave them the numbers. They would try to limit it to 15 and 5 or 6, unless no other way to schedule.

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I built a Ceramics 1 curriculum, than added a Ceramics 2. The 2's had to have had 1, and my approval to enter. 6 students were the class limit, as I only had 6 wheels. I taught both 1's and 2's during the same time frame. Ceramics 1 was limited to 20 students. 26 was the top class. 

I love this.  Such a clever idea to split up a large group of students.  

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I also have large class sizes. My smallest class is 30 students. I only have 7 wheels. It does not help that the class is only a semester so you have to be clever. I do stations through out the semester. Like the previous post, rotating students from wheel throwing to handbuilding. The majority of the class is handbuilding because of the limited resource. It tend to work okay but honsetly students don't get enough time to really get into the wheel becuase as soon as they do its time to switch. To try and fix this if a student is really into it, I let them stay on the wheel. Hope that helps. 

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Thus far, in my teaching career, I have always been faced with a similar situation. I've been at three different districts, and the Ceramics classes are always very popular. But I've just never had very many wheels. The most I had was six. My current district, we started with six, but I got rid of two. It was more of a hassle to keep them.

 

But like a couple others have mentioned, I too focused mostly on hand building with the class(es). But students would have time to work on the wheel, and make a couple things. Initially, I had a wheel schedule and four students would be on the wheel every week and a half or so. This caused problems as students would be gone during their week, and have to find time to squeeze in their work, during another group's time. So lately I've opened it up. They have from when I demo the wheel, towards the beginning of the term, to the cut off date for wet clay work. They can work on the wheel, whenever one is open. This gives them something to do, when their slab/ coil project needs to dry.

 

Currently, I have them make three projects. The first they get a bit of help from me, the second less help, the third almost none.

 

It's not perfect, but it gives them a taste of the wheel, and it is usually one of their favorite experiences in the class.

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At the early age of HS, even a taste of the wheel will help a student determine if they are interested in that sort of "controlled chaos". I deeply believe that HS is the place to expose students to as much out there as possible in the arts. One of the reasons I fought so hard for my Ceramics, and for my computer animation courses. When students are exposed early, if they have talent in an area, they can feel it. Especially when something seems to come easy for them, while their peers struggle. Giving them those opportunities to discover themselves is paramount to a good education, and cannot be measured by any test, or other assessment. We used to do these things more often before the "No Child Left Behind" era. Hopefully the pendulum of what is important will swing back.

 

 

best,

Pres

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Guest JBaymore

 Hopefully the pendulum of what is important will swing back.

 

Amen to that.

 

best,

 

.................john

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Back to the topic at hand. . . as I have posted much earlier, I required my Ceramics 2's to start with 9" cylinders of 3#. The first marking period was devoted to that concept with no exceptions they had to complete that before going on. Their benchmark/MP exam was completion in 3 tries. If they completed the task early as most did, they would contract with me for their next project. These had to be 5-6 of a type, mugs, vases, lidded jars, bowls, etc. # projects of this sort were to be completed, then a final benchmark of a teapot. In this manner, they got to do projects of interest to them, and develop more throwing skills. At the same time it was all throwing so no like running a three ring circus. There were semesters where I switched in a wheel/hand build combination piece based on preliminary planning sketches. Lots of work, but most students would be successful.

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On a slightly different track - it's difficult to demonstrate effectively to a large group, but one thing I found that worked really well, was to use a video camera and project it through the digital projector. Every class has these in the vast majority of UK Primary schools, not sure about Secondays(High School). Great for all demonstrations in my experience.

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The HS where I use to teach now is tied into whiteboards in every classroom. I imagine it would not be much of a leap to plug in a camera to the system and record while displaying for group demonstrations. In the later years, I had a mirror table to show demonstrations when students were gathered around. This did give a second view for those that could not see from the first row or two. Most of my wheel demos would have me sitting in the middle with students sitting on high stools all over the room. Worked very well, my voice carries, and they were extremely attentive. Throwing on the wheel almost approaches wizardry for the novice, and students of all ages loved to watch the clay grow between my fingers. Lots of fun!

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i have been teaching HS ceramics for 5 years. I am hired as a guest artist for a week or two per semester. I start with teaching the whole class clay "rules" and basics. Then i teach them slab and coil work. I do a demo on the wheel and have the student sign up for wheel time during the weeks i am there, i work with 5 students at a time while the rest of the class work on their slab and coil pieces. the students are asked to submit 3 of their best pieces for grading. grade 9 students must sign up for a wheel experience but do not need to submit a wheel thrown piece. however the grade 11 students do.

because i am there for such a short time i stay and work over lunch and spares and invite the grade 11's and the more enthusiastic student to sign up for extra time. These extra time slots fill up very quickly.

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