The Demonstration-Lecture

Preparing for the new 2014-2015 school year, I am reading “Studio Thinking 2” (from what I understand the second edition is not too different from the first one, but it was cheaper!)

Chapter Three describes the demo as “a brief, visually rich lecture by the teacher to the class (or to a small group) that conveys information that students will use immediately.”

I think the key to the TAB classroom demo, and one of the things that sets it apart from traditional arts teaching, is the brevity of the lesson/demo. Honestly, this is something that I struggle with! Keeping it short and simple. My main class lesson can get too long, so one of my goals this year is to keep them short! To do this I want to make a short list of the key points, cover just those, open it for experimentation and studio time, and then come back with questions at the end. Using the questions that come up to guide future demos.

One of the ways I am successful with keeping demos/lessons short is by making videos. This can also lead towards the newly popular “flipped classroom” but can also help a lot with absent kids too. Plus by making the videos I am sure to give all the same info to the same age groups and I don’t forget important details. Making the videos can be easy or complicated. One method I have used is having a student in the first period class film while I am doing the demo for that class period. Then without any editing, I use the video for the rest of the classes that same day. Another method is to employ my art club! I will do several demos during the 2 hour club session, having a student help film, or several trading off (they love to be the camera person) then edit them before using in class.

This is an OLD (2009) project demo I made, where a student filmed while I gave them demo to one period. I then had the demo on hand to show to other classes or absent kids. I would prefer to edit this to make it shorter, zoom in on things, add some text etc. But this is an example of a quick and easy video demo. In addition to showing a fun short project I am showing some cutting skills, how to use a new material (fastening brads) and giving them some reminders about collage center. You will also hear me questioning kids and doing some on the spot problem-solving.

But I find many of my demos end up happening more in the small group setting. I will notice at the collage table some students struggling to cut images out of magazines in a neat and detailed manner. Time for a quick demo on my favorite method of tearing out the WHOLE PAGE first, then holding the scissors pointing up, while I move the page around at different angles. Could I make a video on this? Yes. Could I show it to the whole class? Yes. But does everyone need to know/see it? Not necessarily? If I included it in my bigger demo of collage center it would get longer and longer. If I keep it short, then I can just show the kids that need to know it… And guess what? Organically, without assigning peer mentors, I know someone is going to show it to someone else when they discover how much easier it is to cut out detailed images that way.

I will share my list of “formal” demos here and try to add to them as I go along. But it would be too hard to share all the mini-just in time-teaching type demos I do throughout every day. But I really should try to track them somehow, look for themes and think about how to “flip” them for my classroom.

What kind of demos do you use int eh TAB Choice Classroom? Do you film and/or edit them?