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Lesson Plans and Resources for Remote Teaching


We waited. We watched. We wondered. Then, as momentum is wont to do…

So much has happened so quickly in response to COVID-19, not the least of which is that many teachers are having to shift their studio classes to online formats. Studio Potter has made our archive available to those in need of resources for three months. If you have not yet taken advantage of this resource, you need only email membership@studiopotter.org and make the request. So far, Studio Potter has given access to over 10,000 students at over 250 schools and the requests continue arriving daily. We were also planning a discussion panel at NCECA to share information about the Grants for Apprenticeships Program. We are working in concert with NCECA efforts to bring you the discussion remotely in the coming weeks. Please, if you aren’t already, follow Studio Potter on Instagram and Facebook to stay abreast of our updates.

Many others have made resources available online, so many, in fact, it overwhelms the mind. We thought it might be helpful to aggregate some of the resources in one location. SOME, because trying to deliver them ALL would be like mopping the ocean – it seems there is always more water. Most of the lesson plans that follow are, of course, ceramic-centric. Likewise, the links to educational resource banks do not solely address ceramic education as many educators have the burden or gift of teaching across material  and conceptual boundaries. One last thought to frame what follows, please share your knowledge of resources with educators who might not be seeing the avalanche of information fall on social media. Yes, some individuals have made a conscious choice to remain as digitally free as possible, while others simply might not have access for a variety reasons.

Each resource listed below is embedded with links to the artists’ website and a view only version of a complete lesson plan. Most of the lessons may be easily modified

Lesson Plans

RICHARD NICKEL from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has shared a lesson plan built around the work of CHARLES SIMONDS. Using unfired clay, students are tasked with DESIGNING A DWELLING at a specific site of their choosing. Nickel allows for use of other natural materials, encouraging students to create their own brand of adobe while considering not only the location, they are also asked to consider the purpose of the dwelling and who the occupants of the dwelling are. This lesson plan opens up the possibility of creating an entire culture around the structures built.

ALEX KRAFT who teaches at the Univeristy of North Georgia in Dahlonaga, Georgia submitted a lesson plan tied to the Studio Potter archives. She asks her students to mine the archive and SELECT THREE ARTICLES on a similar topic, then write a comparative essay, considering how the topic has evolved over time.

ANNA METCALFE, teaching at  Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Minneapolis, Minnesota shared an assignment titled CULTURAL DINNER PARTY – ONLINE VERSION with the following learning objectives outlined:

  • Applying the conversational skills of an informational interview to doing research about a cultural food.
  • Connecting ceramic form with a specific food and purpose
  • Exploring how culture manifests through food and informs object making around the world
  • Using the elements of art, specifically shape, form, color, and the principles, specifically emphasis, unity and variety to tell the story of a specific food.
  • Expanding the notion of craft to include the skill of cooking, eating and storytelling

DAWN HOLDER has assembled A LIST of simple, ephemeral projects that can be documented via photo or video. Holder teaches at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas.

Sarah Brown teaches High School Ceramics and Drawing at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon. Additionally, Brown is the President of the Oregon Art Education Association and is using some of her work-from-home time to support art educators from around the state, working to gather donated art supplies to provide access to students. In her AT HOME CERAMIC EXPLORATION, she says, “Let’s hunt for ceramic works in the wild! Dig through your cabinets and search around your house for a piece of ceramic ware in your home – this could be anything made of clay store bought or handmade – it does not have to come from the kitchen. Find a vase, cup, saucer, plate, bowl, lamp, soap dish, flower pot, crock, anything made of clay.”

Deborah Batt, a visual art teacher from East Haddam, Connecticut shared two assignments. The first is a fun purpseful follow along to pair with the television show THE GREAT POTTERY THROW DOWN and while it is fun, she has also posed some thought-provoking questions for her students. The second engages students in a CRITICAL THINKING EXERCISE about materials, accompanied by a video on Ben Owens’s research THE REAL DIRT ABOUT CLAY.

KIM KIRCHMAN and JONANTHAN BARNES teach at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida. The put together kits for their students and tasked them with HAND-BUILDING assignments while their school is closed, complete with templates. They shared links in the lesson plan that, “that might make your life easier and more interesting,” and they remained focused on the community built in a studio environment, ” It is very important that all of us stay connected. Therefore, I have included a discussion board within MyCourses. Images of 2 separate works in progress and finished work should be included. Items for discussion: what went well, what didn’t, what did you learn, what could be improved. The discussion posts will be part of your grade.”

LAUREN KARLE, currently teaching at Mounds View Public School District-Irondale High School and Highview Middle School in New Brighton, Minnesota, shared a PAPER/SLAB DRINKING VESSEL lesson plan, guiding students through the act of design using paper to investigate form while they don’t have access to clay. She asks them to consider form and function while encouraging play, “​My favorite part about being an artist is playing. Approach this with the mindset of experimentation, exploration, and play!”

Rosie Venezia Singalewitch, Communications Chair at Woodbridge Township Education Association, Adjunct Professor at Kean University in Union Township, New Jersey, and Visual Arts Teacher at Colonia High School in Colonia, New Jersey, has created a CERAMIC SCAVENGER HUNT, utilizing a powerpoint her students are tasked with populating. Singalewitch has included 19 prompts, “Something that shows there is perfection in imperfection,”A matched pair or set,” or “A work that contains an interesting and unusual void.” There are myriad correct answers to each prompt.

TAMMY MARINUZZI has shared a SCAVENGER HUNT of her own. The lesson plan is from her photography class, but she has graciously added suggested modifications for you, which may be applied to a ceramic course. The unique angle, compared to the other lesson plans presented here, is she engages Instagram as a teaching tool. She says it creates a dynamic conversation with her students on a platform they are already using.

Social Media Groups

Places where the information and brainstorming has been flying at rate that would impress any NASCAR fan is social media. If you haven’t been following the pages below, I encourage you to do so. As stated in the opening, remember not everyone can or does utilize social media. Try to think about people you could share resources with by copy and pasting some of the ideas and support generated in these social media groups.

TEACHING STUDIO ART ONLINE is an open and affirming group looking to brainstorm with the goal that, ” our group mind can come up with some innovative thoughts and strategies for teaching studio courses online. These ideas do not need to be perfect, ideal or fully formed. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. Don’t hold back. All question and suggestions are welcome.”

CERAMIC TEACHERS K – 12 was started well before COVID-19 changed our reality by MIKE FLOWER, so there are years of resources to be found here. The group will ask you to complete a few questions before joining in, but it only takes a moment to answer. “This group is about problem solving and idea generating. Thank you for keeping things positive and productive. Tip: When you post, share helpful info – things like – firing temperatures, clay bodies, grade (or age level) and the size of your program.” Flower is an adjunct at California State University, Dominguez Hills and he also teaches at Crescenta Valley High School in ​La Crescenta-Montrose, California.

Of course, many of you may already be familiar with CRITICAL CRAFT FORUM, currently led by Namita Gupta Wiggers, was co-founded with Elisabeth Agro in 2008. Always a great place for discussions about contemporary craft, it is currently overflowing with shared resources. CCF is a place for makers, curators, theorists, historians, collectors, writers, critics and more to explore and discuss research, exhibitions, ideas and publications that span the terrain of craft. Wiggers, in addition to being a renowned curator in the field of craft is currently the Director of the MA I. Critical Craft Studies at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. CCF is online as a Facebook Group, Instagram, hosts annual sessions at College Art Association and a podcast on iTunes.

Another group with some history behind it as a fount of information is CREATE AND CONNECT. It’s longer moniker is Creative Resources, Job Opportunities, and Networking, but these days it’s pretty heavy on the creative resources section. The contributors on this page and Critical Craft Forum have been posting a lot of resources individuals are making available online, like RICHARD BURKETT offering his Hyper Glaze site for free during the Spring 2020 semester, “In light of the shutdown of most ceramics programs, I’m making HyperGlaze a free download! Click the link below to go to the download page. The small print: no support and no free updates after this unless you purchase HyperGlaze. Have your students learn glaze calculation and learn about glazes. Free tutorials, too!” Also recently posted here an offering from DEB SCHWARTZKOPF, twelve pages, “of instructions and images detailing ‘Making a Vase with a Template’ and ‘Building a Sauce Boat’ with thrown and altered parts. This is just a taste of my new book – Creative Pottery – that will be in print June 2nd, 2020. Follow the link to request the bonus content and pre-order today!”

GARTH JOHNSON and the EVERSON MUSEUM will be bringing information over the internet to life-long learners in the coming days. Johnson will be sharing lectures from his Object Study class at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, follow him on Instagram for the most recent updates. The Everson will be hosting virtual tours and mini-episodes discussing specific works from their collection. Meanwhile, never forget Johnson’s blog, EXTREME CRAFT. A treasure trove of crafty weirdness that has been available to us all along.

The last Facebook group we will share is ONLINE ART & DESIGN STUDIO INSTRUCTION IN THE AGE OF “SOCIAL DISTANCING.” There one will find such resources as virtual museum tours, lists of websites students might use to reserach artists, troubleshooting conversations, links to free access for internet and software, as well as some posts to just help alleviate the stress of it all.

Other Online Resources

STEPHANIE ROZENE, who teaches at Hartwick College in Oneata, New York started a living google document where contributors can share and troubleshoot the development of online classes. It is an evolving document anyone may contribute to and is already filled with several seeds. You can just log on and gather at will at IDEAS FOR TEACHING CLAY ONLINE.

This resource is very localized, but it’s just too great not to mention. FORREST LESCH-MIDDELTON and BETH SCHAIBLE over at Petaluma Pottery in Petaluma, California have been busy putting together kits for their QUARANTINE CLAY CLUB. For only $35 you can get a box that includes everything you’ll need to work in clay at your own house. Pay online and pick up your box from Petaluma Pottery, (we cannot ship your kit, local pick up only). The pamphlet has 16 pages of lessons and hand building projects. Once you’ve finished with your clay you will drop it off according to the instructions and we will glaze and fire it for you and it will be fired and ready in 2-3 weeks. Similar ideations are happening in other locales, so check with your local potters and clay centers or create your own Quarantine Clay Club. Middelton and Schaible, since the idea first hatched, have taken the idea one step further and are now offering at home tutorials on the PETALUMA POTTERY Instagram feed.

The Socially Engaged Craft Collective has built a new page on their site titled SOCIALLY DISTANCED (BUT ENGAGED) CRAFT COLLECTIVE PRESENTS…  They will be facilitating Zoom video engagements every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, targeting not only students, but really anyone who needs or wants to connect creatively. “In light of current events, SECC will be hosting a Zoom video chat series to support educators, craft artists, and everyone else through this unprecedented time!  We are putting an emphasis on the ‘social’ in this series and basing our work around the guiding principles of Connection, Creativity and Access.  SECC will be using our Zoom account as a ‘virtual art center’ by hosting a series of free, interactive programs over the next few weeks as we all do our part to curb the goal pandemic by practicing ‘social distancing.’

We would love for you (yes, you!) to participate by sharing your skills and/or tuning in and participating in the programs. SECC’s plan is to transfer the content (in most cases) to a forthcoming YouTube channel so it can be viewed anytime. To give some structure to our offerings and get everyone thinking, we’ve decided to organize our programming by theme. Activities, lessons, and ideas in any medium for any age group are welcome – after all, we are all in this together!” To participate, all you need to do is submit your idea on the GOOGLE FORM they created. Two programs already scheduled include:

Monday, March 23, 2020
Lauren Karle Demonostration
2 PM Pacific, 3 PM Mountain, 4 PM Central, 5 PM Eastern
Link to Zoom Chat: https://zoom.us/j/962436819 

Monday, March 30, 2020
Erin Shafkind Demos
2 PM Pacific, 3 PM Mountain, 4 PM Central, 5 PM Eastern
Link to Zoom Chat: https://zoom.us/j/953705255

Glaze guru Matt Katz is offering free ONLINE MATERIALS for educators and their students. Ceramic Materials Workshop is an American teaching and research team started by Rose and Matthew Katz in 2016. They specialize in teaching about clay and glaze science for artists.  Matt is on the faculty at schools such as The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard University, and others. While Rose’s specialty is in manufacturing and glaze chemistry. They also teach clay and glaze chemistry to the general public all over the world with our online classes. They’ve taught students from over 60 countries, and every continent (except Antarctica).

BRACKER’S CLAY in Lawrence, Kansas has created a page on their site, which they are updating continuously, chock full of resources for teaching ceramics online. They state they are, “committed to acting as a hub for sharing ideas, links, resources and even struggles in converting ceramics classrooms to online spaces.” Users are invited to contribute successes and failures in equal measure. It is important for us to learn what doesn’t work after all.

AMAZING EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES is a digital spreadsheet with information and links to education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings and is being updated as new information becomes available.

CREATIVE CAPITAL provides a list of resources for artists working in all disciplines, as well as arts philanthropists, and arts professionals. The write “In times of crisis, artists are often among those most affected. In addition to health concerns, this is a challenging moment for many in our community as we deal with cancelled income and trying to make plans during uncertain times. Creative Capital has always been anchored by a rich spirit of community and mutual generosity, and we believe that continuing communication and exchange are crucial for all of us.”

Collaborative and open sharing is an upside to all we are currently experience. Shades of World War II efforts come to mind: rations, women working in factories, and victory gardens, among other things. Imagine the days to come when we are past the pandemic. What will we have learned about ourselves as people, as a nation, and as a world? There a numerous other resources available out there on the web, please consider our offering here as a snapshot of a rapidly evolving conversation and a place to start. A quick search on Instagram will reveal many ceramic artists are now offering live-streaming demonstrations. All you have to do is spend a moment looking and you’ll find help is out there to assist you as you move your course online or as you try to figure out how to keep your family engaged in this time of social distancing. Good luck to everyone and be well. If you haven’t received your Studio Potter login yet, please email membership@studiopotter.org today.



Posted on

March 23, 2020

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