At Bead Fest, this year, I had the opportunity to assist both Staci Smith in her class, "Painted Polymer Fossil Talisman" and Genea Crivello-Knable in her class, "Wooly Wire One-Oh-Fun". I also took a class from AJE team member, Jenny Davis-Reazor, called "Mixed Media Amulets".
|Genea's Wooly Wire Class!|
|Staci provided a variety of examples to help guide her students to their "destination".|
- Follow this instructional sequence: "I do it. We do it. You do it." So what this means is that if I was teaching how to make an ear wire, I would gather the class around me, and do the first step or 2 of making an ear wire, while talking them through the process, as they observe, (I do it). Next I'd send them back to their tables and once again talk them through it, while I demonstrated and they did each step with me (We do it.). Later, if I sensed that they were ready, I'd let them make the other ear wire on their own, as I circulated and assisted those who were in need of extra help, (You-the student-do it.). Whenever I saw this sequence at work in the 3 jewelry classes, I saw successful students.
- Have plenty of examples available for students to use as guide posts. If there is only one desired outcome, then all the examples should be the same, but place the examples on various student tables, so they can refer to them. If there are a variety of possible outcomes, as in Staci's or Jenny's pendants, then offer a variety of examples for students to refer to. Being able to see examples helps guide the process. It's like having a destination on a map. If you don't have a clear, readily assessable destination, you'll be lost.
- Break the process down into small steps. Remember your students have no, or limited experience, in this new technique. I can make an ear wire in about 1 minute, without giving it much thought. But if I were to teach my neighbor how to make one, do you think she could do it if I explained the whole thing at once and then said, "OK, go for it!". It takes practice, but you've got to learn to think like a beginner. First my neighbor would have to learn to cut the wire, with flush cuts on each side. Heck, she probably doesn't even know the term "flush cut". So I'd have to back up and explain how each side of the cutter works and what a flush cut is and why it is important. See what I mean about breaking down the steps? So explain a little bit (how and why to make a flush cut), ask if anyone has any questions, have the students do it with guidance and then move on to the next step. After a while you'll get a sense for how much info your class can take in at one time.
|Jenny explains some of the basic properties of working with polymer clay, as the first step in our pendant making.|