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Evenings for Educators Recap: Impressive Tiles

by Sue Diemer


Evenings for Educators , learning & interpretation , teachers , Teacher resources

Evenings for Educators is the museum’s monthly teacher development program. Each event features two teachers (one Elementary and one Secondary) who create and implement a lesson plan in their classroom. Attendees get a copy of that lesson plan in their folders the night of the program and also have the chance to ask the Museum Teachers questions. Each lesson references artwork from the museum’s permanent collection, ties into the theme of the program and incorporates visual art with another discipline. Please enjoy this follow up blog about the Elementary Lesson plan by September museum teacher Melanie Greiner.


Students who are new to ceramics…generally, these are my students. I am currently teaching 3 bells, about 65 students, in Ceramics 1.  At the beginning of the semester, the challenge is to guide the students to understand the various processes of hand-building, while at the same time, allow the students opportunities to ‘step outside their comfort zone’ while exploring clay.

This introductory unit, Impressive Tiles, was a wonderful way to explore slab rolling and textures, as well as communicate a ‘message’. The creation of stamps to be used for the tiles was challenging, as this was the students’ first exposure to clay.  Although the concept of depth and impression was emphasized, many of the stamps had to be redone to get a deep enough impression.  On the other hand, the students totally embraced the small tile pieces with impressions. They brought in many objects to impress into the clay and enjoyed trading and sharing the ‘good ones’. Great ideas, great impressions and great dialog on their successful tiles!  

Glazing was more complicated than a typical first project of the semester. One coat of black glaze was applied and once dried, was wiped away from the surface so only the impression showed. They then applied one coat of a colored glaze and they were finished. (I think you could use black iron oxide stain for this step.)

Although the students mounted their mosaic tiles with glue, mortar could certainly be used.  Perhaps my favorite part of this unit was the reflection and dialog that we had about the mosaic tiles, their successes and challenges as well as how their message was conveyed. Including the Mihrab in the conversation was a good way to reflect on and compare/contrast their message.