Sunday, 20 December 2015

PGCE - November and December

I decided to combine posts on November and December into one blog entry as it felt like a continuous period of time! So since my last entry I have been on my first placement in a fairly local school to me. I can't name the school for obvious reasons, but I've really been enjoying myself. I'm there until the end of January, where I'll be starting my second placement aswell as putting on an exhibition in the spring at university. I don't want to leave! Its been really full on but enjoyably so.
So to start off my placement, I spent the first couple of weeks observing the other teachers teaching lessons and making notes on this. I filled up an entire folder of notes in fact, there was alot to do. The school is very different to the one I went to, but I like it.
Once a week throughout the placement I have a meeting with my mentor in the school to discuss my progress, and the same with my professional studies mentor who arranges sessions where we study/talk about wider school issues. During the early stages of my placement I spent alot of time getting to know the students and the other teachers which went well. I'm still being mistaken for a sixth former, despite taking lots of classes and wearing staff ID...
Anyway, after the October half term and several weeks of getting to know the school it was time to do some teaching.

I did some team teaching with my subject mentor and a few introductory solo lessons in the beginning, such as working with Yr 10 on their coursework. I particularly enjoyed helping a boy produce linoprint flowers which so far is one of my favourite pieces.
I then began to work with Yr 7 classes, getting to know how they work and how they behave. Theyre a very, very chatty bunch but theres some good artists in there. At this point in my teaching 'career' shall we say, they don't quite see me as a teacher as such and therefore don't behave aswell as they should (although my mentor is adament they do see me as a teacher ;p) Anyway, we started off our lessons together by looking at composition of objects, and some of them were very illustrator-y which made me pleased !

I then was told to begin writing a scheme of work for the Yr 7s on African Masks. I had to plan out for 8 lessons and consider differentiation, assessment for learning, homework, you name it. I bought several African masks, got hold of good library books and made a whole lot of photocopies of colourful masks for the kids to look at. To start off, I got them to produce their own designs on a template, using a reference sheet of African textures and patterns:
In the second lesson I got them to draw in black and white only with charcoal or graphite. They had to draw African masks from a range of visual resources on hand, and they seemed to enjoy this! They produced several studies each during the 1 hour lesson. I've made sure to put these up on the wall for display in their classroom.
In their latest lessons they've been working with collage to produce African masks. This was not as straightforward as you'd think. It was quite hard to get the kids to understand that they were making texture and pattern and not just picking random objects out of magazines to stick down! We spent two lessons on these collages, and by the second lesson I'd made it quite clear that they should be looking for textures and colours, and that they should be trying to think about symmetry and repetition. I think they did quite well! Although I must say, collage lessons are very, very messy. This lesson happened to be the one my university tutor came down from London to see and assess! It went well, even if I did have to deal with a few disruptive students :/ the end of the lesson I was quite stressed!
Currently I am working on a number of things....a Year 9 scheme of work, a Year 8 scheme of work, the Henry Ward project and my school based studies with my professional studies mentor. I am also still working on my masters unit which goes with the PGCE. I'd like to add however that even though I'm very busy and doing lots of work, I'm still less stressed than I was when I was doing my degree at Camberwell. The only difference is that I have no lie-ins during the week, I'm up at 5am everyday and dont get home til nearly 6pm. Although its not all tough, I was invited to a Christmas meal with the art department and took part in the secret santa which was great :) I'm enjoying it, and hope I can say the same come the end of January!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

PGCE - October part 2

So October has finally ended, can't quite believe its November already but at least that means the days are going quickly and to some extent, I must be enjoying myself? Or perhaps I've just been busy! So anyway, not long after our work with the academy school we were organised into groups to go off to a variety of London galleries with free exhibitions. We had to photograph it/document the trip and present our trip to the rest of the class when we got back that afternoon. My group went to look at the South London Gallery in Camberwell.
It was a fairly interesting gallery considering it was right next door to where I studied for three years and I'd never bothered to go and have a look! There were two exhibitions on; one by Thea Djordjadze who used the gallery to play with space, and one by Heather and Ivan Morison who displayed a douglas fir tree that had been turned into a sculpture piece with the artistic help of a special needs school in the local area of Peckham.
From our presentations of our gallery trips we then had to work on a task called 'Micro teaching'. This involved individually producing a Scheme of Work of six lessons, a Lesson Plan for the 1st lesson and a presentation of the first five minutes of the lesson. It all had to tie in to the gallery trip itself, using the trip as a starting point or as its contextual theme, so I came up with a proposed six lesson project called 'Responding to Space'. 
This was presented to the rest of the class, whilst we were individually being filmed for the purpose of re-watching and reviewing how we taught the lesson. I put together a lesson pack for each student reinforcing the lesson and a power-point presentation (see above) explaining the project, reviewing the gallery visit aswell as looking at lots of artists who work with 'space' itself.  Anyway I did my best to stay calm - the worst part was re-watching yourself on the video! It seemed to go ok, not received the feedback for this yet however, so I have no idea how well it went...
Our next workshop at the university involved being put into groups again to teach the rest of the groups how to work in a variety of A&D platforms. My platform group was Technology, and we decided to teach animation. We put together a website that was used to present to the class how to produce a stop-frame animation - my 3rd year animation was on there as an example! - and we got the class producing their own stop-frame animations. It took all afternoon but heres a mash up of all the clips that were produced:

Tech Workshop Movies from Technologyworkshop on Vimeo.
Our third workshop during the month was the least playful I guess you could involved alot of complex thinking, note-making and research.... Again we got split into groups to research the different types of A&D pedagogies and to put on a presentation to the rest of the class to present our findings. My group had to research a concept referred to as 'the event'. 

That diagram above is a sort of plan to explain what 'the event' actually is. Most of us in the group found it really hard to explain; it was very wordy, but I guess it gave us an opportunity to start looking at research and case studies. 
Nonetheless our most recent workshop was alot more fun indeed. It was run by Henry Ward and looked at 'art in the age of austerity'. The idea was to work out how you could produce art with minimal materials and money. The class was split into two rooms and given only cardboard and brown tape to work with to produce our own exhibition of objects/installations/sculptures from the two mediums.
A teepee!
This is the little house I made with another student! We got really into it and barely spoke for two hours as we were working so hard lol...the roof was a killer to do.
This was a rocket ship/plane type vehicle. Very cool.
In the other group from mine, they put together what I like to describe as a magical grotto! It was really beautiful!
They also had a little house in there too....
Workshops galore :) 
Anyway all that aside we have spent 2 weeks in our first placement schools. We have to document everything in several folders - one informal for us - and one formal for the university and the subject mentors. So far we have mostly been observing, making notes and getting to know the school itself. My school is fairly local to me, but I do have to get up really early to catch a train. So far I'm catching two trains and walking for 30 minutes one way! I'm quite happy where I am, I just hope it stays that way :)
In November I start teaching a little - just an introduction lesson in the first week, then each week my subject mentor starts adding another lesson to the schedule. I'm excited to see how it turns out this month and also a little terrified...

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

PGCE - October part 1

At the beginning of October the PGCE required us to be in groups specialising in all areas of art & design - everything from sculpture to drawing to textiles - and we were to put together a workshop to be used by a class in a London secondary school. The purpose of the workshops was to educate the children about Sir Christopher Wren, London architecture and to improve their art & design abilities and interests. I was in the 'drawing' group and together with my classmates we put together a workshop over several was tough in the beginning but we eventually sorted it. Our workshop was based in North London at an academy school.
At the beginning of the workshop we showed a presentation of Christopher Wren's achievements in rebuilding London after the fire of 1666. The children were shown some of his best architecture and were invited to discuss the way it looked and made them feel.
We then took it in turns showing the children how to use charcoal and collage to create their own sketches and illustrations of architecture from the city of London.
They all got to work and did some pretty good drawings!
Aswell as working independently we got them work collaboratively too.
With an array of illustrations underway, we got them to produce 2 really big 'mural' type illustrations as a class that would go on display in their classroom. This task meant they had to work together and negotiate to create their final piece.
With all their work complete we hung up their small sketches and drawings on a fishing line in the classroom to set up a mini exhibition. Following this we hung their finished group piece outside on the wall for them to all pose in front of it! Overall the workshop went really well and the kids loved it, even if they went home covered in charcoal and glue!
The following two photos I am entering into a competition at my university. The competition focuses on art as research, and can be entered by any student or member of staff from the university itself. I looked at last years entries which were amazing, so I have no chance of winning, but I thought I'd give it a go. 
We've done an awful lot in October for the PGCE - as a group we've all been put in our first placement schools, alongside attending workshops at the university too. So because of that, I will post part 2 over the next few weeks!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

PGCE - September

Feels like ages ago I started my PGCE, but also in some ways has gone quickly. We were given quite a few tasks to complete over the summer to bring with us for our first month at the university which kept me quite busy. To start with, we had to complete a week of Primary School experience, complete with documentation and a signed certificate from the head teacher of the primary school. I was really worried I wouldn't be able to find the time or arrange this but luckily I did!
In my primary school I was with the arts and crafts helper for 2 and a half days, helping children across a variety of year groups work on art projects that had to be completed over the term and year. These were outside of lesson time but allowed the children to gain basic skills in arts and craft from a young age, as well as learning to think creatively in the older years.
With the younger years we worked on embroidery and printmaking, using designs that related to a class topic that the children were studying in other subjects.
For the rest of the week I was with a year 5 class observing lessons. It was actually really good fun, and I enjoyed seeing how creative some of their lessons could be - their music lesson involved designing a CD cover! I enjoyed helping out the children with their history lesson too which consisted of designing a timeline of WW2. 
On the final day I gave a little art lesson which tied in with the class study of WW2. My task for them was to design a suitcase for an evacuee child and to decide what the evacuee would bring with them.
It was a little slow to start with but once the project got underway the kids seemed to really enjoy it and came up with some really good suitcases!
Overall I had a really good time and found the experience very useful to my studies. I made tons of notes and took lots of pictures which will prove to be useful later on in the PGCE when we have to show documentation for the work we have done. 
Anyway, the week after my primary school experience I started officially at Institute of Education UCL.
I was a little nervous but we got stuck in very quickly. The first month of the PGCE course is spent in the university and consists of lectures, classes and workshops.
I've spent the first month making lots of notes and drinking lots of coffee...although as warned, I've been constantly inundated with viruses and colds. I had to take two days off just to cope with a fever that I still don't truly feel I've recovered from yet. Apparently the PGCE is well known for its students getting every virus going.
One of the projects we had to bring with us on the first day was our 'alter ego' sculptures. I designed a group of characters, all spontaneously, which in the end started to feel like some sort of intervention as I was designing them - my dining room was full up with beady eyed stuffed toys sitting round me!
With our alter egos we were split into groups and each student had to give a talk about themselves and their practice. It was quite interesting to see other people's styles of work. I'm one of the youngest on my course by a considerable amount of years, as I've come straight from graduating art school whereas most of the students have had careers and children already! I'm also one of the only illustrators; most people on the course are fine art based artists (think expanding foam sculptures and paintings!) and the rest are art history graduates. It's quite a mix bag of people and a totally different experience than the one I had at art school.
Amongst the many lectures and workshops, my favourite so far has been a workshop presented by arts educator Henry Ward. We were split into three groups and given 90 minutes to produce an exhibition based on random descriptive words given to each student. My work was 'rapid'. It was quite a difficult task as no one in my group could agree to an idea, so in the end we all just decided to get on with our own thing. I found it a little difficult being the only illustrator as most people in my group liked to work in a very different way to me. In the end I designed a little house suspended on thread with wheels and flames coming out the back. The door to the house opened, and inside was a little bed. The idea came from my word 'rapid' as I tried to make a little house that could speed around to and from destinations. 
Another workshop we took part in as a class was attending Dulwich College's 'big draw' day. I really enjoyed this and was exhausted by the end of the day! 
As a partner school Dulwich College invited us to observe and take part in their drawing festival where they got the year 9s to draw and build with drawing. 
My year 9 group did a variety of methods to draw, such as blindfolding themselves and describing what they were drawing to each other.
After a morning of practice drawing they went outside and drew from observation using chalk and pencils. They mostly drew the crane and the clocktower on site. 
With their observational drawings my group had to work from their images to create a 3d piece on the wall in the public space of the school. They were only able to work with nails, hammers and black thread. 
Their finished wall piece was very impressive! The kids really enjoyed producing it too. 
Another year 9 group produced a sculpture from their observational drawings, and they put it in the centre of the room for the other children to draw from.
From their drawings they drew in chalk and were made to swap their works round the class so their classmates could build on top of their designs. They got very very messy!
This post hasn't really done a lot of justice to the amount of work undertaken in the first month of the PGCE, but its just a highlight of some of my favourite things. Its been very intense and I cannot stress enough how many hours we have spent in (very long, but very interesting) lectures. We haven't had TOO much work just yet but I am bracing myself for the first school placement which starts in October. After the second week of uni we were told where we'd be spending our first school placements, I have a school in Orpington which is good because its fairly easy to get to. I'll be posting monthly updates on the PGCE just in case anyone out there is interested in finding out more about it. When I was applying for my PGCE, especially the art and design PGCE, I found that there was very little information about it from current or ex students so I'm hoping these blog posts will serve as some sort of reference in the future to others.


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