Tips for Art Discovery Volunteers

Preparing an Art Discovery Classroom Presentation

  • Schedule a time with the teacher(s) and make sure that no one else is planning to use the Art Discovery Packet at the same time. Several presentations can be done in one school day, but there is only one set of pictures in each packet. Everyone MUST SCHEDULE THE PACKET TIME. In some schools, the School Coordinator takes care of this; in other schools, it’s a first come sign up each month. Be sure to check the procedure for scheduling at your school.
  • Be as organized as possible! (See 2. Presentation Planning Outlines) Look at the prints and read the material well in advance of your presentation. This allows you time to think about the information and let it “jell”. Review the material again, just before the presentation, so that it’s fresh in your mind. (This doesn’t mean just 30 minutes prior to giving the presentation!) Make sure you have also planned the project beforehand.
  • Consider the age of the class as you decide the points to make in your presentation. Keep it simple and easy for the class to understand. Don’t forget to consider the abilities of your class when deciding on the project. Many project suggestions are included in each packet. If you feel unsure about what might be appropriate, discuss this with the teacher in advance. Teachers are a very valuable resource!
  • Volunteers choose which information to share with the class. The workbook supplies the basic information, with many suggestions on how to present and teach it. YOU DON’T NEED AN ART BACKGROUND! The workbook is to teach YOU, the Art Discovery volunteer, the information that applies to the specific packet you will be teaching. Volunteers are asked to READ THROUGH ALL PACKET INFORMATION themselves. There won’t be enough time to share ALL of this with the class (and they would fall asleep if you tried). Choose to share what is the MOST interesting to you, because the kids will notice your ENTHUSIASM.
  • Focus on 3-4 Basic Elements and Principles of Art in the presentation. Refer to the EALRS (Essential Academic Learning Requirements) lists, for the appropriate grade level(s), as you plan how to approach this. This is included in the workbook, along with definitions of these basics, titled “Understanding Some Basic Elements and Principles of Art”, in case you don’t know what they are.
  • Consider which of the prints, included in the packet, you will use in your presentation. A presentation may use only one or two prints—if you have enough information to discuss for at least 10-15 minutes and you are teaching, or reviewing, some basic elements or principles of art. If a picture in the packet doesn’t express the points you wish to make, you are not required to use it in your presentation. Depending on what you are going to teach, you may not have time to use all of the prints. Most of the time you should have enough time to use all of the prints for your presentation but sometimes there might just be too many.
  • Think about different ways to display the prints. Some packets may lend themselves to discussing and showing each print individually. If you’d like to do a comparison, you might consider displaying all of the pictures at once. Consider how many prints can be displayed on the white board tray at the front of the room. Consider using the kids to hold some of the pictures once in awhile. Remember that variety encourages interest.
  • Individual presentations are up to each individual Volunteer. There isn’t only one correct way to give an Art Discovery presentation. A valuable point to remember is that the kids (and usually the teacher) haven’t read the information you are about to present. If you forget to say something, only you will know. To the class, YOU will be the EXPERT. And the only competition is with yourself—to improve with each presentation you give.
  • Additional Resources—feel free to bring in additional books or Art calendars to use in your presentation. You should consider if the pictures are large enough to be seen and how many you will have time to show. You may also include magazine or newspaper articles relating to the art or artist of the packet you are presenting. Check out the Portland Art Museum exhibits for the year, in case they will cover the same art or artists you will be presenting this year. Encourage kids to visit these exhibits with their families. “Museum Family Sundays” are scheduled quarterly and include hands on art activities that usually correlate with the museum’s traveling exhibits.

Delivering an Art Discovery Classroom Presentation

  • Be respectful and considerate of the teacher.  Ask permission before trying something different.  Let the kids see that you respect and admire their teacher as often as possible.  Remember—you are the visitor!
  • Dress respectably, yet appropriately.  Dress like you care how you look, but not like you’re going to a business meeting.
  • Arrive early enough to assure the teacher that you will start on time.  Spend 5-10 minutes alone, just prior to your presentation, to get your thoughts together and the material well organized.
  • Show kids how valuable the program is by treating the prints with care.  Discourage kids from touching them and keep paint away from them.  DO NOT DROP THE PRINTS as this is hard on the matting.  Many other classes will use the same prints after you are finished.  Handle them carefully.  Make sure ALL prints are returned to the packet after you are finished.
  • NEVER READ THE INFORMATION TO THE CLASS!  The kids will learn nothing from this except that you didn’t care enough to prepare ahead.  The information is taped to the backs of the prints as a reference only—in case your mind goes blank.  You may hold a copy of the packet information BUT YOU SHOULD NEVER DIRECTLY READ IT TO THE CLASS.  Highlight the points you wish to make and try to use your own words.  Reading quotes from the artist is an exception.  It’s better to cover LESS information—information you actually KNOW about—than to READ information that you are unsure about.
  •  Stay on schedule!  Begin and end when you planned—no matter what.
  • Always have a positive attitude!  Find something good in everything!  Don’t ever let a student get the better of you.  You can let them know when they disappoint but smile and say that you know they’ll do better.  (Essential: get kids wanting to please you!)  Art Discovery happens only once a month in most schools, so the students look forward to it and will usually cooperate to keep you coming back!
    1. Make sure kids can see your face as well as the prints.  When you show a print, hold it on the right side and aim it to the left, then hold it on the left and aim it to the right.
    2. Do not keep talking if they are not listening.  Just sit or stand politely and wait until they are quiet.  Tell them you will begin when you see they are ready or when you can see their eyes, etc.
    3. Encourage kids to interact with YOU rather than their classmates.  Say, “Please don’t talk to your friends right now.  I only have a little time to be with you and I have a lot to share.  You can talk to me right now and talk to each other at recess”.
    4. Make your voice interesting.  If they don’t seem to be listening, talk softer instead of louder.
    5. Have a relaxed posture if you want the kids to relax and listen to you.  If you act too excited, the kids will mirror your excitement and get out of control.  You want to be interesting, but relaxing, so they will sit calmly through your presentation.
    6. Give very specific compliments!  Rather than saying, “Oh, that’s beautiful and so is yours!”, you could say, “I really like the way you painted this…” and “you drew that shape nice and smooth”, or “I love the colors you chose!”  BE HONEST.  You can find something you like in any picture.  You can also say, “I can tell you worked very hard on this!” or “I really appreciate all the hard work you put into this project!”

And remember to HAVE FUN and ENJOY Discovering Art!

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