Flipping a Clay Project

I read the article The Flipped Classroom: Myth vs Reality to find out the definition of a flipped classroom was.  The traditional definition of a flipped class is:

  • Where videos take the place of direct instruction
  • This then allows students to get individual time in class to work with their teacher on key learning activities.
  • It is called the flipped class because what used to be classwork (the “lecture” is done at home via teacher-created videos and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class.

Each grade I teach does a ceramics project.  The kids really love it and are very disappointed if they miss it.  Each grade does a progressively harder project with new techniques being introduced as well.  This year’s grade 3’s have started on creating a coil bowl with the students who finish early being allowed to create another one.  Those students will then join the 2 pots together to make a coil pot.  All work will have a simple glaze applied to them.

I began thinking about a flipped classroom more after I got myself into a bit of a time shortage with my grade 3 classes.  This year our school has closed for 3 days for weather related reasons and we have piloted a new PD schedule.  Both have had an impact on my art schedule and has left me a little short of time in some grades to complete projects.

As it is too late to fix things for this year I thought I would try a flipped classroom next year.  The biggest benefit I can see right now is that it will give my students more time to work on clay instead of sitting and watching me demonstrate on how to do things.  This often takes up way too much time.

To do a flipped classroom, I realize that I am suppose to make my own videos, but by using these YouTube videos it buys me some time to sit down and make the necessary videos.  For the coil project the students will watch the following videos at home.  The links and titles will be emailed to them in advance.

Stop motion animation on coil pottery

Simple instructional video on how to make coil pots

Simple instructional video on how to make clay pinch pots

Simple instructional video on how to glaze

When they come to their next class, I will just give a very quick review of what they saw in the videos.  Next, I will go over where all of the materials and equipment is in the  classroom.  Once the kids have got themselves organized I will circulate through the class giving each student more individual time than I could in the past.  I think by using the flipped classroom approach I will gain about ½ an hour extra for the class when they are making their pots instead of demonstrating.  Then they would gain another 20 minutes when they are glazing their work.  Even this amount of time will make a big difference in the quality of the work the students are able to do.

Flipped classrooms can really benefit students as they are given more time to work on what they are actually supposed to be learning.  In some ways I think it has an even a bigger benefit to specialist teachers as it gives them more time with their students that they may not have had in the past.  In the end, time with the students to me always something that I really need.

Photo by Carl Knudsen

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2 responses to “Flipping a Clay Project

  1. ruthingulsrud

    Nice, fast way to flip a lesson! Great application for art class. I remember demonstrations in art class when I was a student, and if I was at the back of the group during a teacher demonstration, sometimes it was hard to clearly see what the teacher was doing during the explanation. This way, everyone has a front row seat at the demo and when they arrive to class, they already know the steps they need to take to create an awesome pot. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Awesome! Can’t wait to see how it goes! I will say, I have heard (more than once) what you say about the teacher creating the video. I think, even if you don’t have time to create all of them, maybe creating one with some examples of finished products or something to get them excited and to show them that you are “teaching” the class would be a good start. What do you think?

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