Sunday, May 31, 2009

Post #27 - Clay & Play-Doh

Here’s an unusual post: I have never tried this lesson before, but I really want to!

I’m trying to diversify my teaching techniques…to be honest, I think I cover different styles fairly well, but I do struggle to make the material appeal to kinesthetic learners. This activity intends to appeal to those tactile learners and to make the sometimes-abstract writing process more logical and concrete.

The lesson lets students use clay or play-doh to begin a creation and then make connections between that process and the writing process.

I had the idea of this tossed at me off-handedly; I followed up by hunting online for any lesson plans that had a structured lesson for it. Unfortunately, I found only a couple lessons.

One is more structured: Ask students to create something using their clay, and stop periodically as a class to talk about how each step of their modeling relates to the writing process. I like this and that it makes clear, direct comparisons in the process. I hesitate, though, wondering if perhaps it's too much emphasis on learning the writing process, something they should already know. Plus, I just don't want to be too structured for something in which I'm trying to get them to express creatively-out-of-the-box.

The other is a bit more organic: You give students the assignment to create something with their clay/play-doh and after about 20 minutes, ask them what steps they went through in creating their artwork. The class talks about the process as a whole, relating it to the writing process. I like that all the students are working on the same assignment so they can see how everyone creates something unique. Because this is a little less meta-cognitive, I worry that during the discussion students wouldn't connect to the writing process, or they might twist it. Then again, it could make for an interesting discussion about whether or not the writing process is linear...

Have you ever done a lesson like this? Any extra suggestions you could offer? If you haven’t done a lesson like this, which do you think you would prefer?

I lean more towards the structured activity, since my students are convinced that they don’t need brainstorming and that they just draft immediately. I want them to be aware of each step of the process – metacognition – so they see the value of testing the clay/play-doh (in other words, their writing & topics) before they actually begin creating. The structured version would enforce that, in my opinion.

source: initial idea from speaker @ county in-service, lesson plans from provided websites

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