Middle-grades educator Sandy Merz describes in this blog post some of the things he learned about his students as individuals while having them sculpt with clay as an exercise to learn more about them at the beginning of a semester. Based on an activity from the book, "Teach Like a Pirate," the lesson had students sculpting favorite foods, animals and sports objects. But the conversations Merz had with each student while he or she worked yielded the "richest rewards" and paved the way for future student collaborations, he writes.

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