Component 1: Methodology and Technology
Before making my observations, I had the expectation that the classrooms would be overall the same with some minor differences in the ways in which the material would be presented. Nothing could have been further from the truth. While the passion for the subject matter was the same at both locations, they handled the material in a completely different manner and managed the classrooms in different ways. My observations made it clear that they way in which the lessons and classroom are structured makes a HUGE difference in the ways that the students learn, and to what extent the students learn. In my classroom I would strive to treat it as a traditional educational facility with clear objectives, well prepared lessons, presenting content in an interesting and passionate manner, and having clear expectations for my students. In a more traditional learning facility students seem to be learning to their full potentials and not simply streamlined to "pass the time". While I appreciated the relaxed passionate environment of the Boys & Girls Club, I appreciated the higher quality of learning that occurred at the Normal Community High School.
- Boys & Girls Club: Instructors bring needed various art materials from Illinois State University to the Boys & Girls classroom. The Grad students from ISU have had years of art and education training, they also do independent research on the artists that they teach lessons on, as well as different artistic process they may need more knowledge about to effectively teach the lesson. There is always a timeline/schedule for occurrence of events during the scheduled two hour time period. Classroom procedures were established in and outside of the classroom from recommendations from peers as well as trial and error throughout their years of teaching. Instructors always seemed prepared for that class day.
- Normal Community High School: I arrived while students were in the middle of various art projects. When talking to various teachers they informed me about ordering supplies and materials needed before the project by shopping around to get the best price and the best products for their students. The teachers seemed to be quite knowledgeable about the subjects that they were teaching and were up-to-date on various technology techniques. In terms of classroom procedures they were the same procedures used throughout the high school: walking in the halls, quietly entering the classroom, asking permission to use the restroom/leave the class room. Depending on the students circumstances (disability, grievance, illness), the teacher will accommodate deadlines for projects.
While the teachers at both establishments seemed well prepared for the days to come (supplies, lesson plans, questions), the high school teachers likely took more time to become prepared since they teach many different subjects of art as well as different age groups. Whereas the Boys & Girls Club instructors dealt with kids in the same age group and only had to teach one lesson a week to this group of students.
- Boys & Girls Club: Clearly stated in understandable terms for the children at the beginning of the lesson to give the students an idea of what they are to accomplish in the two hour classroom period. This provided a very important element of structure in the after school program.
- Normal Community High School: Objectives were displayed on the SmartBoard while students were walking into the classroom. They were much more complex and were to be accomplished over the span of the longer projects. Some objectives were directly related to what they were going to accomplish in class on that given day.
Objectives were much more detailed in a traditional classroom environment. This is one area where I thought that the Boys & Girls Club lacked engaging their students in thought provoking, knowledge building, and more complex projects. Given that the students were given a 2 hour block instead of 45 minutes, they had a lot of time in which more thoughtful products could have been created.
Presentation / Content Development
Boys & Girls Club
- Introduction: Introduce that weeks artist (who they are, where they are from, what their art looks like, where they take their inspiration from).
- Strategies: Always provided examples of the artists work, images of the artist, as well as instructor examples when appropriate. Demonstrations were used when introducing a new artistic technique.
- Media & Technology: Due the the limited funding of the Club there was little to no technology in the classroom, this then required for the Grad students to bring all their information on printed sheets for the children to observe. Many different art mediums were brought into the classroom for the children to experiment with.
- Interaction Pattern: Teacher directed discussion with questions incorporated to encourage student participation. After set free to do the activity, students either worked on their own work or worked in small groups depending on how the students felt that day.
- Minutes Devoted to Time of Instruction: Since there was only two hours a week with them in the classroom, twenty minutes was dedicated to pure instruction, while the rest of the time was used for students to work on their projects.
- Teacher Questioning: At this age the students are very eager to answer questions in order to participate and also get to the art activity faster. The instructor asked questions frequently to insure that students were absorbing information with about a 20 second wait time in between question and feedback.
Normal Community High School
- Introduction: Little to no formal introduction to lesson most days I observed, this is not uncommon due to there being an introduction at the beginning of a project and any of the classes after that were used as independent work time for the students.
- Strategies: Used examples of previous students work, as well as demonstrated how to do certain techniques and individually helped students when they were stuck.
- Media & Technology: SmartBoards were found in every room, very technologically advanced art rooms in terms of equipment and computers (Every student had a Mac computer available to them in photography class) there was quite an abundance compared to the Boys & Girls Club.
- Interaction Pattern: Lots of independent seat work for students, asking peers questions about the project first rather than the instructor in many occasions.
- Minutes Devoted to Time of Instruction: About 10 to 20 minutes of instruction, the rest was left to independent work.
- Teacher Questioning: Not many questions asked by the teacher due to the independent work time. However I am sure there were other sessions in which more questions were asked, I just was not around at those times to see that occur.
Communication by Teacher
- Boys & Girls Club: With younger students communication must be clear. Verbal and non-verbal communication must not conflict with one another in order to convey a clear message to some of the younger students. This was accomplished most of the instructional days, but on the days when the instructors were not as aware, the students started "acting out" not sure of what they were supposed to be doing.
- Normal Community High School: These students and teachers focused more on verbal communication due to a more developed vocabulary. While non-verbal communication was also important, it was not the primary focus of these instructors many days due to the individual work time and the independence their high school students had established.