This Week in the Classroom: Pantographs

My school spends a lot of time, energy and financial resources on project-based learning.  In my experience, teachers use project-based learning as a catch-all term for anything from make-it-take-it projects which last twenty minutes to inquiry-driven, rubric-graded, long-term explorations.  Calling the former project-based learning is lazy and misdirection.  Creating incredible experiences for students with the latter definition is exhausting and rewarding.  Most of the time, a teacher must follow a middle course.  This is one of those projects. We started off by designing and building pantographs.  If you don’t know anything about pantographs – check out the video below.  Also … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Pantographs

Community Watch: Houston Mini-Maker Faire

On Jan. 19th, I had the chance to attend and participate in Houston’s first annual Mini-Maker Faire.  I brought 8 students, 3 fellow teachers (or maybe Ms. J brought me), a woodworking bench, my traveling chest of hand tools and a whole lot of salvaged pine. Maker Faire brings together families and individuals to celebrate the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset and showcase all kinds of incredible projects. At Maker Faire, you’ll find arts and crafts, science and engineering, food and music, fire and water but what makes this event special is that all these interesting projects and smart, creative people belong … Continue reading Community Watch: Houston Mini-Maker Faire

This Week in the Classroom: Rulers & Frames

Applied Math Made Easy, a hands-on, application-heavy curriculum designed by a pair of teachers from Wisconsin, has a number of great math labs and activities.  Using worksheets to convey directions and learning, the curriculum utilizes a conversationalist tone and “interactive reading” (their term, not mine) to let students learn middle school to high school level mathematics – about a 9th to 10th grade range.  I’ve co-taught with teachers who’ve used this curriculum and I can say this:  it works.  Incredibly well, when your students can read, understand and follow instructions at a high school level. I don’t teach those kids. So … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Rulers & Frames

Community Watch: It’s Build a Box Day!

Today at TX/RX Labs, I’ll be leading a class in building a few of these tea boxes.  I’m sending a box to one random contestant on WoodshopCowboy Facebook page, just in time for Christmas. Remember to like WoodshopCowboy on Facebook! And remember: Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend. Continue reading Community Watch: It’s Build a Box Day!

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 Shop: Make Monopods

A quick and easy project to help you photograph or film outdoors.  This won’t solve all your problems, nor is it any good as a walking stick…but your filming becomes steadier.  Just another filming rig I’ve put together for my documentary class. First published in Make Magazine. Make it (get it?) safe & keep the rubberside down. Continue reading This Week in the Shop: Make Monopods

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

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)