Sunday, June 21, 2009

How do you keep student interest during a demonstration lesson?

In my last blog post, I loosely reviewed a few assignments that I presently do in my painting class, commenting on the great suggestions from some other bloggers on additional exercises to offer. At the end of the post, I included a section under the heading of Demonstration difficulties. There I highlighted a few struggles I have had with my urban high schoolers.

After some reflection I wanted to inquire some more about a few things:

Student interest

I am hoping that next year my classes will provide a little more student interest. This past year gave me more of what I have experienced since coming to this high school: students who did not sign up for my class and resent the amount of effort they have to put into the work for me. Ironically, my classes aren't as difficult as others I've been exposed to through art education conferences. Go figure.

How do you teach skills when you don't have a willing class? Often, the things they want to paint require more skill than they have and that only drives up their potential for discouragement. Thoughts anyone?

Appropriate demo time

Another avenue I have considered playing with centers on in-class demonstration time. Frankly, I only do demos that are 15 (20, at most) minutes long. Often my students talk to one another during the demo leaving the on the outs when it comes to doing the work. The frustration level mounts once deadline for completion gets closer. At that point, I become inundated with "Mr. Phil, I need your help." In the end, I don't get to everybody and that frustrates my students as well.


As I stated above, my students will often talk during my demonstrations. As such, I find myself giving one-on-one demos for those students. Otherwise, they won't work and I'm basically stuck in the water needing a means to see what the students have learned. My wife and I implement consequences for our kids at home but my students don't take authority well or the guidelines I provide as goals for them to think about and work through. Actually, I have a very good rapport with them but that becomes tested when dates are looming and they should recieve a gift, not an email or blog member.

I want to serve these kids well. So, any thoughts or recommendations based on what I have introduced would be greatly appreciated.