Category Archives: Teaching

Making Cold Connections

Thinking of the word cold could lead us to a conversation about weather or about personalities. Have you ever heard someone say that a person is cold? Of course that usually means that the person isn’t very friendly. In that case, aloof might be another term to describe the person. Most of us prefer friends and acquaintances who are warm! By the way, I also prefer weather that is WARM!

I’ve been making cold connections for the past couple of weeks. No, I haven’t been meeting cold people and the weather here has been quite warm. Instead, I’ve been making cold connections with metal. When we join things to metal in a way that doesn’t require heat, usually through soldering, we say we’ve used a cold connection. This week my cold connections have been through riveting.

It was my turn to lead and share a technique at our monthly Faux meet up. Yesterday, we had about 20 in attendance and I think most of us got a little better at riveting in the time we spent together. I was determined to have some new projects that my fellow designers could try and thus the reason for the past weeks of making those cold connections. I thought you might enjoy seeing a couple of the pieces I designed.

The first is the easier of the two and is just a simple variation of the wave necklaces that I’ve made. This one features a riveted charm in the center. This charm utilizes both a copper disc and a nickel silver disc with the center cut out. I riveted these two together and also riveted a pewter finding in the middle. I used a headpin that I balled with the torch for the center rivet. The other rivets were purchased from Rio Grande Jewelry Supply. I wired the charm onto the wave necklace armature.

wave rivet

The second necklace is a bit modern looking, but it’s definitely different. I used alcohol ink to color some copper discs and then riveted them together with nickel silver discs. Again, I used balled headpins for the rivets. I also riveted some big hole rose quartz beads that I got from Magpie Gemstones (www.magpiegemstones.com) onto a couple of the discs. Although you only see two rose quartz beads on this necklace, it took four to make it if you count the two I broke while trying to rivet them. You really have to be careful when riveting a gemstone.

rose rivetedI demonstrated how to make a few other riveted charms, but haven’t yet used all of these in a particular design.

Riveted Charms and LinksI really enjoyed working with my friends yesterday and helping them initiate or hone their riveting skills.  Although they were making cold connections, thankfully none of them were cold!

Here’s hoping all your personal connections are warm and that if you end up with cold connections, you’re riveting!

Teach Me

Lately, I’ve once again had a chance to teach others. Although I’ve tried several times to veer into other paths, I seem to always come back to education. It doesn’t seem to matter to me “what”  I’m trying to teach. The important element for me is “how to teach” it.  It’s always been both challenging and fun for me to try to figure out how best to help others learn.

Yesterday, while preparing to teach a leather wrap bracelet class, I went back to pedagogy in designing a teaching aid. The bracelets, which I’ve shown before, are below.

wrap

  I had close to the maximum number of people enrolled in the class and wondered how in the world I was going to show everyone how to do the weaving required on this bracelet. For this bracelet, we were using smoke colored Fireline fishing line which it difficult to see and weaving it with beads over and under leather cord. It’s a piece of cake to demonstrate when you can sit right beside someone, but not so easy when the person is across the room from you. Therefore, I went with an enlargement of the technique. I dug in my ribbon stash and found scordome gold cord and some red ribbon. By attaching the cord to my giant clip board, I had my enlarged replica. It looks a bit silly, but it seemed to work and people could see it from across the room. I appreciate the participants who didn’t laugh at my replica.

This happening reminds me of teaching preschool piano classes when I had my father cut large music notes out of wood which we painted black. Then I made a big music staff on heavy white plastic. The children and I sat on the floor to learn concepts. (Those were the days when I could still get up off the floor as quickly as they did!)

One of the best things about teaching is that students inadvertently teach me what works. When I demonstrate something and they don’t get it, I have to figure out what to do next instead of just thinking they were slow to learn. As these difficulties arise, I need to figure out a different way to teach the same thing and make it clearer. Also, when numerous students make the same error, I know it’s because I did something wrong. That’s something I need to fix.

Students also teach me through their questions. A query is often indicative of something I might demonstrate in a better fashion next time. The students teach me through these questions.

I think one of the best parts of teaching is that the process is reciprocal. Both the students and the teacher learn when the environment is risk free.

Questioning

If you teach, parent or communicate, you ask a lot of questions (and probably answer a good many as well). Since my grandson now lives close to us and I’m spending more time with his family, I’ve renewed my understanding of the importance of questioning in learning. I’ve always believed that a good question can stretch the learner’s thinking. Unfortunately, my three year old grandson has figured me out and when he doesn’t know the answer to the question or simply doesn’t want to tell me he says “YOU do it, Nanaw, you do it.” In other words, since I know the answer anyway I may as well just tell him. (I’ve got to get sneakier in questioning this little one.)

As an educator I spent considerable time studying the art of questioning. I hesitate to tell you how many books there are on this single topic.  You may have fond, or not so fond, memories of learning Blooms Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives which forms the basis for some questioning procedures. At the university level, I enjoyed helping new teachers develop their own questioning techniques and researching their progress. I enjoyed using DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats for developing questions. Now, as I teach classes in jewelry making techniques I again find myself knee deep in questioning.

Lately, as I have listened to myself and others teaching, I’m aware of the fact that we occasionally answer the question we thought we heard rather than the one someone actually asked. (It reminds me of the parent who calmly and carefully explains the physical differences in boys and girls when the young child only wanted to know if there’s a difference in boys and girls jeans.) It can be quite perplexing when a teacher misunderstands a student’s question regarding how to do something. In this case the instructor may provide a thorough (and sometimes lengthy) explanation as an answer. The student is then even more perplexed since the explanation doesn’t fit with the problem. Then the teacher is perplexed because the student doesn’t understand the answer. (what a mess!) This really slows the learning process while frustrating everyone involved.

I’m attempting to remind myself to clarify the question before providing an answer. I may begin by saying “are you asking . . . ?” Or I may start my answer with “I think I hear you asking . . . “ Then there’s the useful phrase “do you want to know . . . ?” I hope this will make me a better teacher.

As I again practice my questioning techniques for the jewelry classes, I wonder if my developing skills will help me with a three year old. Some how I have my doubts! I’m beginning to think the real question is “are you smarter than a three-year-old?”