This Week In the Classroom: Curriculum Plan for Spring of 2011

Good week for struggles and not-quite-there-yets in the woodshop this week.  Three projects left the floor complete.  The first, chalkboard that has been wind-blown, vandalized and otherwise destroyed three times.  We’ll see if it sticks this time.

The other two projects I failed to take a picture of.  On Mon or Tues, I’ll put up a picture of those two projects.


I spent a majority of my time this week networking with the community-at-large and negotiating class objectives with other teachers.  I have a few interesting classes being put together:

Two Art Car themed classes. One focuses on building a parade float, the other will design bicycle-based alternative transportation (think trikes, scooters and quad-cycles).

Working on the Homies.  A home-improvement themed class for adults with neurological differences to gain skills and confidence in home-care.  I hope film some work done by the students to use as a home-improvement show assignment.

Environmental Maintainability. The academic objectives for this class is to learn about and how to maintain the man-sculpted environment of the school.  We have thirty trees to plant over the next few weeks, and about twice that number to water.  I won’t have enough time to do it all, but we’ll try.

A woodshop production class & a woodshop master class.  The main difference between these two classes will be the driving force of the projects.  Masterclass students choose their work within skill level, production students produce what the student business classes need them to.

A pair of great photos from the Art Car classes – this is a bike we’ve stripped down and will repaint as preparation for the real thing in the spring:

And this photo which reminds me of Doug Stowe’s blog, Wisdom of the Hands.  He was quoted in a recent Globe article. Stowe’s  hand-centric teaching/creative-arts view fascinates me.  I look at the same arguments and studies and come away with lack of a problem-solving skills.  For example, he recently highlighted a study showing that concert pianists use less brain cells to play as their playing ability improves.  As Stowe puts it, “In other words, when we develop hand skills, not only are we able to perform those skills with less attention, more processing power is made available for the advancement of further skills.”  I see it differently – the ability to use less neurons in the action means more neurons are involved in the problem-solving.  A concert pianist has an audience because they engage a piece of music at a level unknown to amateur pianists.  A craftsman deals less and less with the mechanics of construction and more with the problems inherent in construction  – once a painter masters the physical motions to create shades, brides and smudges, only then can they engage in art.  My work tends to highlight the problem-solving opportunities rather than focus on the skills in the hands

Check out Stowe’s site – I find it a great read and have learned a ton.

3 thoughts on “This Week In the Classroom: Curriculum Plan for Spring of 2011

  1. I hope none of those bikes had the back-pedal brake function…maybe that is not a challenge because you have the know-how, but i have never successfully replaced one after stripping and lubing refurbishes!

    I am glad that you are promoting problem solving in the tasks you present your students. No matter how simple they may seem, and even if they are “hand -centric (i’ll have to look that up), I think i agree with your take on those findings. Also, surely they are somehow utilized in the generalization across other problem solving tasks. It at least trains the brain to realize that challenges may be met, and perhaps instills the confidence to assert one’s problem solving schema to make the attempt!

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