hard times for collaborative work in 9th grade

Apparently, collaboration among high school boys is more difficult than I even expected it to be. I think the particular group of students that I am working with are more resistant than your average 9th grader. I won't say too much here, as we'll talk about it in class on Friday, but I will say that I have learned a lot about collaboration from trying to "teach" it. In assigning a collaborative project, I had to consider what they would need to know/think about in order to work collaboratively. I had already witnessed a short group project in which the collaborative efforts were lacking at best. I have been surprised by what seems to be a lack of creativity in my students to use a variety of materials in collage. They seem to approach assignments fairly narrowly, only using a material if it is put in front of them. I have tried to provide several different examples of collage work in order to get them thinking about different options, but they are rather stuck on using magazine images and pictures printed from the internet. This has made me think about what would have stimulated the groups to better utilize eachother as resources--one of the biggest benefits of collaborative work. I think maybe they need to see actual collaboration modeled.

ANYway, more tomorrow. Concerning the Airwaves project last Friday, I was really impressed with how it went! I think we were all pleasantly surprised at the turnout and participation rate. It was really interesting to hear some of the commentary from participants. I was struck by how many people seemed to think the process was somewhat therapeutic. I too am curious to know what it would have been like with a different audience- one outside of an art school. I think the limits of providing a means of artistic expression in which it is difficult to "fail" is very appealing to most people, and so leads to a positive experience.

The simple concept of having a large sheet of paper on the wall has also made be think about how I might use that in my classroom. Perhaps I would end up with a more authentic collaborative piece if I just put up a sheet of paper somewhere in the classroom or just outside and left it up as an open space for expression. If the students felt like they could contribute something to it (or not) whenever they wanted or needed, I think it would be really interesting to see what resulted after some time. Maybe I can report back about that next semester...

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