TWITS: The Two-Month Punch List

I apologize for the lack of “this week in the shop” updates.  I am currently working out my to-finish list for the end of the year.  I’ve got a grades to enter this week, preferably before mid-quarter progress reports go out.  It seems I have my hands full.  Pictures and list after the jump-

Art Car Project

I’ve taken delivery of a ’96 Ford Explorer which will become a shark over the next two months.  The major components will be constructed from wood and salvaged mechanical parts from a weight bench.  I will work every day on this vehicle with two class periods.  I hope it gets finished by May 22nd.

CAD Class

My CAD class continues to be a successful failure.  The students are churning out some pretty incredible products, such as this country bench:

Yet some of the basic lessons I’m trying to teach (use dimensions to create an accurate model, break down large objects into smaller components, shift the view when you can’t reach a point) need to be taught again and again.  My students create without regard to real-life constraints (that struggle between thought and implementation often is a manifestation of their learning and neurological differences) and I struggle to present the material in a way which allows truly independent success.  I’m problem-solving too much.

Environment Maintenance (Rose Garden)

This class has gained a new student this quarter.  He’s a wonderful kid to work with and has taken to the gross motor practice like a fish to water.  Ten to twenty cubic feet of earth moved so far, about a  hundred to go.   The daily routine looks like this: break up a 2×5 foot section of land; shovel it out; water the next day’s section to soften the clay; clean campus.  My student has figured out the routine and keeps me to it.  It’s a great feeling.

Senior Projects

Five to fifteen young men and women graduate from my school every year.  Each graduating student must create a “senior gift” and I am guiding three along.  The Art Car is by far the largest and most complicated project this year.  Next up, this bookshelf:

And last but not least, a small shadowbox/trophy case.  It’s looking like a sheet of plastic and this so far:

“Apprentice” Work

I have an interesting role within my school.  I get to work with students ages five to thirty, which means I rarely get tired of “middle schoolers” or find myself teaching “high school”.  I just teach whoever happens to show up in my woodshop.  My youngest regular student has steadily mastered the pull saw, the miter saw, the sanding block, the block plane and the jack plane.  Recently, he built this box and presents it (it holds a math game inside) to his peers next week:

His next project will be turning non-treated 2x studs into those blocks teachers spend four hundred dollars on.

Class Support

On the not so worried side, I’ve got to support the work of my fellow teachers: helping building cob structures and building pedestals for an art show in May.  I’ll go back to Galveston Bay soon and re-re-plant salt grass.  I’m sure I’ll get shanghaied into a field trip, or subbing in a class or something.  I’m finishing up a two month science exploration where my students designed, built and calculated the draft of their boats.  Then tested them to see if we were right.  I’ll get pictures of the second class and some of the teaching materials for a later post.


Woodshop Masterclsss now has four student projects: a beautiful jewelry box with myrtle branch accents (if I can engineer a way to flatten the branches), a country-esque bookshelf, a small triangle-backed chair and a spalted myrtle walking cane.  I’m not taking on any more projects or students once these projects leave the outbox.  I’m unsure what class will turn into after that, but it should be interesting.  A quick shot of that in progress jewelry box:

My Master’s Class

Finally, I’m finishing up work on my Master’s this month.  I have roughly ten more pages to do, a lot of collating and some summing up.  Then I’m done.  Finito.  Next personal resume project:  get my teacher’s certificate!

I’ve got two months and a lot to do.  In the motto of my alma mater’s football team – it’s time to get to work.

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