December 4, 2008

Volunteering in the Schools!

Reflecting on Experiences: Homecroft and Woodland with Deb Hannu, and a teaching experience at the Tweed.

My first was volunteering at Homecroft Elementary School with Deb Hannu. As I walked the halls in search of the art room, I noticed a handful of displays showing off all of the beautiful artwork the students of Homecroft created. Once I got to the classroom, I was there a little over two hours. First she had me sit back and observe the students while I worked on a small project in the corner. The classroom was set up in rows where the students could huddle together while working on their latest assignments. There were various posters and other fun items on the wall that seemed to give the classroom a relaxed and fun atmosphere. However, even though it was an art room I thought it was lacking. It didn’t have a sink or much room for storage. However Deb Hannu told me that the building was going to be completely renovated, so hopefully a better art room is on the way.
The two classes I was there for were both second grade. The first was very well behaved and you could tell that they were excited and happy to be in the art room. The second class was a tad more rowdy, but excited to be there none-the-less. The classes were short, only about 45 minutes each. The students had two projects to work on, they had the one they had started last week as well as the one given for this week. The first class was quiet and patient and seemed to get to work right away. The second class was a little livelier and even though I was introduced they were dying to know more. Students were coming up and asking me for help with their latest projects so I jumped right in. It seemed as though many students wanted my help not because they “didn’t get it? but because they thought I was “so cool.? Deb Hannu does a great job with classroom management. If the kids are talking out of turn she calls them out on it, but at the same time doesn’t waste a ton of time on doing so. I could tell she knew how to run a “tight ship? per say.
I also volunteered with Deb Hannu at Woodland Middle School. She teaches a Digital Arts Media Class, along with the regular 8th grade Art curriculum. I volunteered for two and a half hours and was able to witness two classes. When I first arrived I made my way to the computer lab it was just how I had pictured it, with the computers side by side in a handful of rows. It was located in the back of the library, which was neat incase they needed other research materials. I was there a tad early so Deb sat down with me and showed me everything she had been doing with the students thus far. It’s her first time teaching the Digital Arts class so it has been quite the learning experience for her as well. However, she did mention how she loved it, and that she is very excited to teach it again because there are a few things she would change the second time through. In her binder I saw that the DBAE standards were being used and that every lesson plan was kept along with a reflection.
Both of the classes were 8th grade students, and both of them were really laid back. It was mainly work time for both hours. The students sat back and played with various programs while searching google for images they could incorporate into their project. Some kids brought digital images from home; many students were scanning images in as well. Overall they all seemed very tech savvy and more than capable. By the end of the two hours I came to the conclusion that the students in these classes could teach me a thing or two!
The second class started a lesson that day before they had the rest of the hour to work on it. Deb Hannu hooked her computer up to a projector and gave the students a tutorial on a web art collection site to make their project for the day easier on them. She explained how to use the site and where everything was located. Most students sat and watched, many followed along on their own computers. And a few students goofed off and had to ask a neighbor for directions.
The lesson planned seemed really straightforward, however it was only the first half of the lesson. Each student got a handout, which was in a way an “image hunt.? They had to find works of art to fit different categories using a link off of the Ghetti online workshop. They were writing in the name of the work of art, along with the artist. The students seemed to have fun with this assignment; most of the children seemed very particular in what they wrote down. Everything they found spiked their interest and enthusiasm. The list of things they needed to find was large enough to keep everyone busy for the entire hour, and it sounded as though they were working on the same thing the next class period only with a substitute teacher. Which was nice, because the students knew exactly what they are doing. I liked how the lesson worked well for every student, and was very flexible to accommodate all learners.
At Woodland, Deb uses strictly the lab for one class, and has another room upstairs for the 8th grade art course. However many days both classes utilize the lab. It was interesting seeing Hannu switch from 2nd to 8th graders. She seemed to be a lot more laid back with the 8th graders. You can tell she really enjoys her job. The kids are all rotated through the classroom, it seems as though both Homecroft and Woodland have more art days than most. Deb works every morning at Woodland from 7:30 to 10, and then she is at Homecroft every afternoon until 5. It sounds as though she has a hectic schedule; she mentioned how it’s stressful at times but completely worth the hassle. During the 4 classes I observed I didn’t notice any special needs in the classroom, however if there were, I’m confident Hannu would handle it accordingly.
Both of my experiences at both Homecroft and Woodland were interesting, however they left me wanting more. I craved more hands on with the students. Joellyn Rock had mentioned to our digital arts class an opportunity to volunteer in the Tweed. A few of us jumped on the chance for this experience since it was convenient and seemed like it would be more fulfilling than going into the classroom; this was something new to try out, which was exciting. Susan was expecting 40 second graders from Lowell Elementary to be coming in for two days. Forty is a lot of children for one person to tame, so that’s where we came in. The three of us prepped a few activities with the students that had to do with the latest exhibit at the Tweed, Wanda Gag. We set it up where we would have 20 kids for half of the time and then we would switch. We got to do our lessons with the students a total of 4 times! It was a great success. The children were all very well behaved and excited to be there. They were easy classes to control. The students had a great time and everything went accordingly.
We set up the space so the students were able to sit on the floor. We broke them down into three groups so we could all be one-on-one with our own group. We had two activities as well as an activity booklet that was provided for us by Susan. We had to be very careful with time management to make sure that the students were able to get through all of the activities. It was a great experience, and I’d love to do it again.