Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Watching for Starts and Stops in Painting Class

Pamela's Home Work
During the week, Pamela and I did homework. We did make-up work from the previous week (the blue value study), redid the block study so she could understand the ideas of light and shadow in the context of value study (red block), and painted the projects she missed in class last week (apple and sunrise). During our short lessons, we went at Pamela's pace to giver her time to process the ideas rather than rush through technique. I also focused on Pamela's new objective: look before you leap, which means Pamela learning to watch for my starts and stops and wait before starting if I have paused for some reason.

Pamela's Second
Watercolor Class

Pamela did two of three projects from Tuesday's class: the black value study and the rainy landscape. She showed the same pattern from last week, requiring very little scaffolding with a familiar process (the blocks) and more direct guidance with a new process (the landscape). I noticed that Pamela carefully monitored her teacher, who directed her attention to the new students in the class. While the other students started working after hearing the verbal instructions, Pamela, in her "watch for starts and stops" mode, usually waited until her teacher painted. I noticed that Pamela did not like water dripping off her brush and had a hard time making gray. Overall, she was very relaxed for the color value study and lagged because she was only referencing the teacher and not the other students. I think I struggled more than she did because I shifted my attention between Pamela, the teacher, and the lady on my right, who was a new student. Talk about a three-ring circus!

Because this project was unfamiliar and more vague, I gave Pamela Pamela more support. I tried really hard to help her focus her attention on something and encourage her to look and think rather than telling her what to do. Several times, she did not understand and headed in the wrong direction. I stayed calm and neutral and got her back on track. At the end of the video, Pamela very clearly let me know when she was tired and I respected her request to stop.

My Lesson Learned
I cannot believe I missed a golden opportunity (pardon the pun). One of the most important things about RDI and Charlotte Mason homeschooling is to focus on process, not product--the sweet moments, not the end result. I was so absorbed in helping Pamela keep up that I ignored the chance to spotlight the funny moment when the teacher found a golden raisin stuck to her papers. Falling into a mechanical plodding through the steps, an unmindful going through the motions, is the polar opposite of experience sharing.

Since Pamela did not feel up to painting a camellia, I tried my hand at it. I realized a mistake we had made in the color value study: I should have had Pamela place each color in a separate hole in her palette. I did that for my flower and found painting it much easier. About halfway through painting the camellia, a friend popped into the gallery. We fell into a lovely conversation, and I began to relax and not really pay much attention to what I was doing. Watercolors are very snarky, unpredictable things that are very hard to control. Letting my mind focus on something else allowed me to go with the flow.

Things to Do
  • I plan to lead a lesson on painting a camellia with David and Pamela over the weekend. I will give verbal instructions and turn away for a moment. David can verbally spotlight what he is doing so that Pamela can learn that she can follow the cues of other people too.
  • I address Pamela's issue with adding water. I will find a better set up that works for Pamela and model a calm and neutral attitude about the dripping paint.
  • We do some shaded landscapes (two based on black-and-white pictures and one from our ideas) since next week the class will be doing colored landscapes.
  • I will contrast the idea of wet on dry for the flower with the idea of wet on wet for the landscape
  • The teacher forgot to bring salt for a misty effect in the sky. We will try that on the landscape pictures in case she brings some on another day.
  • When we do color value studies, I plan to guide Pamela in place each new color in different hole.


amy in peru said...

I find your learning process so beautiful. I think it is SO awesome how you are teaching your daughter in such a thoughtful way.

Amy in Peru

Hua said...

I agree with Amy. The way you teach your daughter is amazing. Keep up the fantastic work!

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MasterpieceMom said...

This seems like such a neat class. Teachers that accommodate for our kids are one in a million!

walking said...

The neat thing is that the class pace and size is just right for Pamela. Before long, I think I can sit back and watch! :-)

Amy, a lot of thoughtful people have gotten us this far, between Charlotte Mason's ideas and RDI, we have plan that is helping Pamela learn how to learn from other living minds!