This term I started my Circle Artist Talks and we had both a textile artist (Claire Miller) and a Sculptor/Performer (Renata Bandeira) giving both informative and inspiring talks about their practice, which I felt was greatly received by those who attended. Due to exams clashing with this timetable of talks we came to the decision to postpone the rest of the talks until the Autumn term (as I gathered a number of artists/friends to deliver them).
Most of my 3 days a week is spent continuing to work alongside the art teachers in their art and textile lessons. I assist, which has been broadening my understanding and learning of techniques and delivery of ideas. This has been in key stage 3 lessons as well as GCSE and A-level classes.
The teachers have been really supportive of my presence and I have been encouraged to circulate in lessons giving individual attention to students as they work through projects. The A-level classes seem to really benefit from my knowledge too and I spend their classes giving individual tutorials, which they respond extremely well to. Taking on suggestions and research ideas to the next level and I have witnessed how this has developed through their coursework books.
At the beginning of the year Kate Miller and I went through the all the classes I would be in to highlight the dyslexic students so that I could pay particular attention to them in the classes.
During this term I have continued with my lunchtime art club, which has had a weekly set up, it has been largely conversational and visual. For your information I set out the schedule as follows:
Week 1 : Introduction to site-specific art. Looking at artists works such as Gordon Matta Clark, Christo, Robert Smithson, James Turrell, Michael Landy. Print out of Christo’s work for them to take home with some questions so that they can give their personal response to the works.
Week 2: Looking at Artist’s that use the house/building – Rachel Whiteread, Louise Bourgeois. Response to Louise Bourgeois draw house with reference to the body give questions for them to respond to.
Week 3: Collage cut outs of buildings. Cut outs of buildings/images for them to immediately make into collages within their sketch books.
Week 4: Taking photographs of the school buildings. Simply along the theme of INSIDE/OUTSIDE. I will use my/school camera to take images of outside of buildings as well as inside the building – the more overlooked spaces (corners, ceilings, carpets/floors etc) as well as the grand outside. Church, modern school buildings, etc. We will then use them for the forthcoming weeks to work directly on to the photos in the way of collage and drawing.
Week 5: I will print out photos and bring them to the lesson for the class to start working on. This week start either looking at one of the artist’s we have discussed through realm of colour, texture, fabric and respond through their own interests/ideas onto the photographs printed. Katharina Grosse Artist of the week for them to respond to.
Week 6: Using photocopies look at the outside of buildings think about blocking out with colour/texture. What to add on? take off? Block out? Use of Windows, think about stained glass, lights at night, what could the windows be used for – Even Cyrith Wyn Evans blinds?. Artist of the Week Rachel Whiteread, Richard Serra, Gregor Schneider.
Week 7: The building and text. Looking at words and the building. Think about advertisement, words used on the roof tops as hotel names etc Jenny Holzer. Barbara Kruger, Yoko Ono
Week 8: CANCELLED LAST DAY OF TERM – Dismantling the image. Cutting up the image making it into a grid for working on. This will begin on a small scale so A4 cut out in preparation to scale up to a larger work after Easter.
These lunchtime clubs have gone well and I have been introducing the students to artists they have not seen or heard about before. I felt I wanted to introduce them to expressive, abstract and gestural artists that also work with scale and boldness. My thoughts behind this were taken from my own experience as I feel dyslexia effects your confidence. So by showing them and telling them about artists works that are beyond at first, imaginable scale and idea, my hope was that it will open their eyes to this way of working and will be freeing and confidence building for the next stage of my creative mentoring next term which will stem from these clubs.
For the Art Club at St Marylebone we have been making architectural models with cardboard, tape and gum strip and looking at construction techniques using paper folding. There has been a combination of individual and paired work activities to help give them the confidence to start their own buildings next half term.
My work in the classroom has seen me working with individuals with dyslexia and supporting them in their projects. I help break down the tasks in to manageable ideas and help them restructure their sketchbooks.
This half term we have been planning and preparing to work individually with students at the Bridge School. I have been given two boys to work with who are both in year 7 and both have been diagnosed with autism, one is quiet and does not possess strong fine motor skills and the other has a tendency to be disruptive in class and is said to have low confidence issues. I have been putting together plans for the sessions that teach art through the use of maths and to do this we will be looking and making geodesic domes popularised by Buckminster Fuller and their form can be closely connected to the classic form of a football which uses pentagons and hexagons. Tasks include building domes with marshmallows and cocktail sticks and paper folding activities to build and improve dexterity.
During this term I have set up an extra jewellery club, which allows me to regularly see all of the known year 7 and 8 dyslexic students. With this group I am trying to provide them with a new worksheet each week to try to reinforce some of the more complex concepts they are learning in class, such complementary colours and tints and shades (attached is an example). Each worksheet allows them to make a piece of shrink-plastic jewellery for the students to take home. Pieces include colour-wheel brooches and a shaded sunglasses pendant.
I have found it very interesting to see that some of the students really struggle with reading instructions and jump straight into drawing, so I have been adapting my sheets each week to make them more visual, while reminding them about the importance of reading through the instructions.
The other club is continuing making their pearls of wisdom necklace. Over the summer break they are going to collect some wise advice, which they will then paint onto the pearls. This has taken much longer than expected, as they have had to miss many of the clubs due to various school activities.
I have also done a workshop this term where we made enamel pendants out of old pennies (seen below). They enjoyed the process so I intend to run a similar workshop over the next term.
During this term there has also been a number of staff changes, including a new Head of Art and a new staff member. At first I sensed there was a little confusion over my role, but I have reinforced the fact that I’m there to provide support and encouragement for the dyslexic and struggling students and she has since been more supportive. Over the next term I am going to try to give her regular updates, perhaps organising a short meeting every week.
Also, one of my club members was asked to write a short report about the club for the art blog –
I’ve been going to jewellery club since just after Christmas and I have achieved so much!
We’ve made little charms for ourselves and friends and one necklace for someone special with five charms showing: The first letter of their name, one of their hobbies, their favourite animal, something we do together and something they enjoy a lot.
Just a few weeks ago we made enamel pieces, which is many different colours of glass melted onto a piece of copper (or a penny) in a kiln. It was really fun and interesting.
We’ve just started a new project called the pearls of wisdom. We’re making a giant papier-mâché necklace and each pearl will have an important piece of advice on it.
Jewellery Club has been a wonderful experience and I have learnt so much.
Jennifer Hansen 7R
Over the next term I intend to exhibit with all the creative mentor jewellery so far. We will also hopefully be revamping the Angle of the North statue throughout the term (hopefully with the help of Stuart) and I will also be working with the new Year 7s.
In the Tues lunchtime I am limited to half hour so I showed them the simplest way to make a book _ folding paper into 8 without any glue or stitches and was very please to see when new students turned up that they could be shown how to make the book by other students. Within the books I devised different easy doodling exercises which are equivalent to music scales. Like repeatedly drawing circles which one student, Elsie, I heard describe as ‘relaxing to do… I like doing the circle exercise’. I am relaxed with the rules of these drawings so as to make environment different from usual classrooms. I also realised that some people in classes really struggle to draw ellipses so I’ve found drawing exercises which will helpfully just allow them to enjoy the drawing process whilst improving dexterity. I feel I’m beginning to know and build good relationships with the kids and also it’s really pleasing when they come back every week and get their handmade books and get on straight away with the activities. Next term I plan to cut rubbers into shapes to print with with them and do other activities like clay hopefully or more fun less pressured drawing things like cartoons. I have been able to order 24 big erasures to do the printing activity with.
Each week at Charter, I am learning something new about the pupils I work with and have discovered that there are a considerable amount of learners who need additional support. As I had mentioned in my last report, there are students whose needs are complex from Dyslexia, Dyspraxia to Speech Language and Communication Needs, Emotional, Behavioural and Social Difficulties to Attention Deficit Disorder and these special educational needs may be the profile of one student. I have also discovered from my classroom observation and within the documented profiles of students, that there are a higher proportion of boys who have been statemented and require additional attention and instruction in comparison to the SEN of the girls.
My finger knitting lunchtime group continues to be of interest as the group are keen and aim to finish their individual pieces of work that they create before lunch ends.
After the Easter break I will introduce the group to my dream catcher project, which will incorporate the traditional Native American looping technique with the handcraft of weave. Instead of using wooden hoops, students will be using fluorescent coloured acrylic perspex sheets.
There have been significant changes this term since the introduction of new staff to the music department. I’m continuing to make headway with helping those on the SEN register, and I have had talks with the Mr. Winston (head of music) about reorganising the layout of the classroom to help learning. This has been something with I felt could improve the learning of everyone in the class, especially those who need extra support as the current layout doesn’t really allow for individual help without being very distracting to others. At the end of this half term, new models have begun with most of the year 7-9 classes. I’m hoping that with my involvement in these from the beginning, and with the new teacher I have mentioned, we can both teach this new material in a more involved way, helping to engage those who would have found it more difficult before. We’ve increased the amount of group work, introduced many small targets throughout a larger project, and I’ve started to help some improve their answer writing.
At the Bridge school I have continued to support the music lessons alongside offering individual trombone lessons for 5 of the students. Their note reading is improving, its slow progress but I only have 20 mins a week with them. I wrote up letters for the parents to explain that to maximise progress the students need to take their instruments home. Some of the students have started to do this.
With one particular student instead of trombone lessons we have done music appreciation lessons. This student in general dislikes school. I’ve tried to engage her and get her to feel more confident in communicating and expressing how she’s feeling. Each week we have done a different genre from HipHop, to Motown, and also individual iconic artists/bands such as Stevie Wonder and Radiohead.
This term at St Marylebone has proven to be very enjoyable and rewarding. I am in the school on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I have continued to assist in classes and work with pupils with specific learning differences. I have been involved in many of the KS3 classes. The goal has been this term to continue with ethnomusicology but focussing on songs from India. They learnt the basic characteristics of traditional Indian music and were set a task to take a pop song and rearrange it in order to give it Indian characteristics. This was a good learning experience for me as once again I was opened up to music of a different culture. It was also very interesting to hear what the children came up with. To hear their various interpretations of a pop song converted to Indian style music.
I have also continued to assist in classes which are designed for character building and problem solving through performing arts. We can help the girls and offer advice throughout the lesson, however, they are required to work independently and solve performance issues themselves. Last half-term, I was involved in a year 7 class where the girls performed ‘We’re All In This Together’. They had to organise themselves into groups and finally do a class performance. This term, the focus was more drama based. They had to split into groups, create a character and a scene for the character to be in, then act it out. Again, we had to let them work independently and take on more of an observation role. This was really enjoyable for me as I was able to draw on the drama experience I had while studying to be a singer.
On Monday afternoons I have continued to run the music club. I used this time as an opportunity to work on the project I created alongside Luke Burton. We produced two moving image films with music. They were featured at the School Fair. My group of girls created a song which we recorded and sent to Luke. He created a moving image film which we received and then created music for. I was happy to see the finished product, however, what I found very satisfying was seeing the creative process from start to finish. Each girl developed more of an appreciation for music making and their musical skills were increased. They had experience of playing chords on the piano and ukelele and playing the drums. For some, this was their first experience of these instruments and it was excellent to be a part of that learning experience for them.
On Wednesday afternoons I have continued to accompany Rosie Shakespear to St Marylebone Bridge School for children with Speech and Language needs. I assisted in a year 7 and year 8 class. This term the children were focussing on Samba music. They learnt about the history of Samba along with various musical features. The classes involve a lot of work on rhythm using various instruments. Each lesson, Rosie acted as the band leader and we created a ‘Samba Concert’ in each lesson. I also assisted at the Bridge school during the activities week. The year 7 class are putting on a mini performance of The Tempest and Rosie and I are required to make the music for the performance with a small group of children from the class. It is so wonderful to see the children really involved in the music making and enjoying the way in which the music and dramatic action fit with each other. The year 8 class have went back to working on Reggae music. They have written their own lyrics to ‘Get Up, Stand Up’. They have based them around the issues they care about such as bullying or family values. This has been especially touching. They will be performing this music on the final week.
This academic year has been a truly wonderful opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I have learnt so much.
This term has presented many different but enjoyable challenges. Exam time is upon us in the main school and the pressure on both staff and students is at its peak. To help relieve some of the stress I ran some revision sessions for the year 11s. In the GCSE music syllabus you have to learn 12 set pieces. The one issue I realised that was more prevalent in the dyslexic students was a lack of understanding of some vocabulary which was relevant from western classical to popular music. Another weaker area was Aurol skills which again applied to both western classical, pop to minimalist 20thC music.
I split the 12 set works into different colour flash cards for vocabulary, 3 cards per word. I find repetition is key when memorising language. I then made mind maps for each set work, with the core information they would need. I went through previous past papers to work out what they were most likely going to need to know. I then ran revision sessions with small numbers of students, going through their individual revision packs I’d made for them and then spent the second part focusing on Aurol skills so they could hear the chord sequences and cadences for the Aurol part of their exams.
During the remainder of this term, I have been working with two dyslexic girls in year 11 supporting them with their GCSE revision. I have created packages for the girls using as much visual information as possible. I also found that quizzes worked well to help them retain information. Quite often I repeated the same quiz to see how much they had remembered. This was a good way to see what areas they forgot more easily and helped me find an alternative way for them to learn the information needed for their exam. I was hoping to get through more material but their learning process is quite slow. I then gave them revision material to do over the Easter holidays. I have also helped one of the same students with her composition work which she was very behind on.
At the start of term, I was helping other year 11 dyslexic students with music revision, although this only lasted for a few weeks due to other school commitments they had.
One dyslexic student in year 11 had been off school for a few weeks and needed help catching up with the lessons she had missed, I was working with her to help her catch up, again providing her with visual material where I could.
I have also been working with a group of dyslexic year 10 students helping them understand music theory, but also to explain how to answer a particular question in an exam paper. The girls didn’t seem to understand what to write about if a question asked them to comment on the texture of a piece or the structure of a piece. They would base their answer on a completely different area of music, like dynamics or instrumentation. I went over the different areas of music with them and gave them visual ways of remembering what these terms actually mean and explain what they should be commenting on to answer the question.
It would be useful to do a joint project with year 10 and 11 students with the art mentor as a visual aid to these terms would have helped them remember. Unfortunately they now have exams and will be on study leave, but his would be something to consider doing early next September.
For the summer term, Hollie and I will be organising a club together for year 7 and 8 students making clay instruments.
During February and March I have been developing my skills working with autism. I’ve been working closely with Joe, the autism specialist at the school, and working one on one with Z, a year 8 girl whom has a keen interest in music, but finds it difficult to work in the classroom and participating in group work with other student. I’ve attended a training afternoon organised by the school to help understand how autism can affect the learning process, and work out the best course of action to deal with many problems autism presents.
Z also attends Francis’s knitting club which I’ve been helping with. It’s a great opportunity for me to see all the girls I work with outside of their music lesson.
With Francis, we are still organising a trip to the Horniman museum and gardens. The trip will be for 12 of the students and will be a chance to explore and help inspiration for a multi-sensory collaboration we hope to do next term between art and music.
In music, I have been continuing with the ukulele club. I’m trying to find ways to re-open the club to more participants, and think it make be changing to a song writing group, writing music to a story. This will hopefully be more open the doors to many more participants, and means we can spend different weeks working on different aspects of music, not just the instruments.