This Week In the Classroom: Progress in 2011

What a  student-driven,  project-based learning  can result in:

The joints look remarkably tight in this photo, and the stain quite even, but don’t be fooled.  This is about as rough as work gets.  (Not including the Clock, which may be finished and rejected this week…)   It was the first attempt at an entire project like this by the student.  He cut the wood from the original 1×11, sanded the parts to his specifications, measured and attached the handle without major intervention by the teacher.  Pretty darn good for a nine-year old.

Here’s the first piece of “indoor quality”, or rather, “furniture quality”, maybe just “quality”, furniture to come out of my work’s woodshop this year:

This project has been incubating for three to four months now.  It has been delayed by homework, lack of schoolwork, wind, fire and holidays. It’s made of completely recycled or found wood.  He used a jigsaw to cut the plywood and you can watch his cuts get straighter and straighter throughout the piece (we didn’t use a saw guide, something which will be made when the transition to a real space happens.  We used an pnuematic nailer to tack everything in place.  A quick sand job and she’s ready to go.

Next time, I’ll be looking at rounding over every exposed edge with a small router or router plane and finding a technique which promotes better-quality painting.  Last but not least – more practice for my students with the jigsaw.  Practice in woodworking can be in short supply (you have to have scrap wood, time and a project you can mess up on) – but maybe I can figure out a useful way to get my kids more reps at the jig.

I think a close up of those mitered moldings is in order:

Mmmmmm-hmmmmm, that looks like a good corner.  That made my week right there.

Some days I must remind myself: embrace the process.  Both of these projects suffered setbacks which took away from the quality or timeliness  of the final product.  But from a student-centered perspective, the journey (and its completion) became the real” products”.  It’s not my job to produce products, portfolios, grades or the score on a test written and concieved by educational bureaucrats and slick-haired politicians.

I produce journeys.