This Week In the Classroom: Sketch Up Projects at the Middle School Level

In support of my Mathematics and Technology and Computer Applications: CAD courses, I’ve offered a number of Sketch Up projects for students to complete.  In Mathematics and Technology, my students created eukaryotic animal cells while in Computer Applications the students created square, triangle and hexagon – based tessellations and designs.  Two resources I used heavily in the design and implementation of these projects:  Google Sketch Up 8 Hands – On: Student Coursework and the GeomeTrick series both by Bonnie Roskes of http://www.3dvinci.net. Ms. Roskes projects have a real wow factor in the classroom.  My students would shout my name to show off their work, … Continue reading This Week In the Classroom: Sketch Up Projects at the Middle School Level

This Week in the Classroom: Try Squares

My new “little” project obsession:  try squares.  These guys mark boards square.   That’s it.  All they do.  The try, not tri, comes from the act of “trying” an angle to see if it’s square, not three, or tri. This slideshow punctuated by a few of my favorite song titles, puns and lyrics in no particular order. These tools come together quite easily.  First, I rip a 2×4 into 1/4″ or 3/8″ inch thick strips.  Then I flatten one side of the strip using a hand plane.  After checking each strip for flatness, I rip the piece again on my … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Try Squares

This Week in the Classroom: Gottshall Block Project

I’ve heard before from others in the “making” or woodworking communities I’m a little behind the times.  I make cigar box guitars when they were totally two years ago.  Or I teach developmental woodworking in manner more suited to a different century.  So of course, I discover a sweet little hand tool project about a year too late.  Good thing great projects don’t age. The Gottshall Block is a small project – just a few cuts and nicks with a chisel.  It takes about three to five forty-five minute sessions to complete for a student at about the third grade … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Gottshall Block Project

This Week in the Classroom (and the shop): Time Lapse Photography or Filming Rigs

In my second period this semester, I’m moonlighting as a video producer.  I don’t get to do any fancy music videos or full-feature movies, but I do get to make a documentary.  We’ve got the backdrop ordered, the lights rigged up and a the interview stool picked out.  I even have a low-slung directors chair that I talk to when its empty.  I pretend my boss is sitting there. In the woodshop, I made this little rig to support my students.  This is just a prototype.  I’ll be working on a second rig  which will find a permanent home in … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom (and the shop): Time Lapse Photography or Filming Rigs

Why I Do This: Well-Being

This is why my school approaches the whole child, stressing social connections for students with neurological differences as well as academics.  You can’t have one without the other as an adult.  Having approached my students like this for three years, I know this:  I won’t teach any other way anymore. A study published this week in the Journal of Happiness Studies shows how children and adolescents get this well-being as adults. In short, social connectedness massively overwhelms academic achievement. The study mined 32 years of data from the New Zealand Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which followed about 1,000 … Continue reading Why I Do This: Well-Being

This Week in the Classroom: The Poor Man’s Tripod (For Taking Panoramic Outdoor Pictures)

My school is undergoing a little bit of construction…and by a little bit, I mean a cool of five mil of construction.  We just needed a little documentation of the facts. I’m going to use this photography stand (and yes, I walked around with my shirt like that all day)… I put a 1/4 coarse threaded bolt through a board, flipped it around and stuck it into the post.  You can see the crossbeams at the bottom giving the piece a little stability. …and the results are pretty spectacular. Make it safe & keep the rubberside down this week.  Remember … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: The Poor Man’s Tripod (For Taking Panoramic Outdoor Pictures)

The High Cost of Winning the Educational Race

Interesting review in the New York Times today on parenting.  Take a look… After all, as Levine notes, the inconvenient truth remains that not every child can be shaped and accelerated into Harvard material. But all kids can have their spirits broken, depression induced and anxiety stoked by too much stress, too little downtime and too much attention given to external factors that make them look good to an audience of appraising eyes but leave them feeling rotten inside. via ‘Teach Your Children Well,’ by Madeline Levine – NYTimes.com. Continue reading The High Cost of Winning the Educational Race

Politics in Education

The Republican Party of Texas states in its official 2012 political platform: We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based  Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. There’s got to be a better way for conservatives to word their educational goals.  I’ve looked at the rest of the platform and I don’t think this is quite what they mean…but what if it is? via Teach students higher order … Continue reading Politics in Education

This Week in the Classroom: Block Printing & Stamps

As my students have become more competent with tools in the past few years (and cripes, does it feel weird to say years…) I’ve gotten the chance to think:  what would be really cool to do next?  What would be just flat out awesome? Here’s my answer:  wood & lino prints designed by the student, for the students work.  My summer crew churned out about 30 different wood projects and many pieces deserved something special.  In the third week, I took the plunge and bought $80 worth of tools.  We spent the next few weeks cutting as many designs as we could and experimenting … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Block Printing & Stamps

This Week in the Classroom: Swingin’ Chalkboard Signs

Here’s a few shots of a project build I did a few months ago.  The challenge was to build a recycling container from completely recycled materials.  I picked up some nice crepe myrtle branches and immediately saw a V shaped stand with a small basket to collect recyclable goods. To bad we never did finish it.  We got all the way to the crossbeam.  Spring break came with all the lassitude of a wilted Texas flower in August.  We never stood a chance. Eventually, I snookered a student into repainting an old cabinet door into a chalkboard sign.  Then I parked … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Swingin’ Chalkboard Signs