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
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
Why I do this is a continuing series of education..er…ahhh…editorials. If you don’t like ’em, check out my projects! I do a lot of woodworking here, but I do more teaching in real-life. Teaching, whether a reader on these blogs, or at TX/RX labs, or at my work, is what I really love. I’m a self-proclaimed I-might-be-ok-at-some-point woodworker. I’m a wicked good teacher. Once in a while, I’ve got to say my piece about the craft of teaching. Just helped put my children to bed. Nothing special, really. Probably the same thing your doing, probably the same thing any number of … Continue reading Why I Do This: Monday Nights
Invented in 1923 by Edmond Michel, the circular saw remains a basic portable tool for any homeowner/woodworker nearly 90 years later.
The Model 77 hasn’t changed much, but worm-drive saws such as the 77 have become the realm of framers, carpenters and other tradesmen and women who make a living with the tool. For a weekend warrior like myself and many others, we use a sidewinder. The sidewinder came about from Porter-Cable in 1928. In the next post, we’ll walk through selecting ourselves a proper circ saw and I’ll point you in the direction of some internet resources which show you how to use a circular saw.
Continue reading “Tool Primer: How to Select and Use a Circular Saw”
Students with autism, people with neurological disorders and people with two eyes and ears and a brain often need a place to talk. For my students with autism, the act of conversation can be harrowing, heartwrenching and terrifying. On a … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: The Conversation Bench
Two projects really took off this summer – chalkboard slates and boomerangs. The boomerangs, of course, took off a little bit more. Back in the fall I built a bike barn. It’s more of a third-world shanty, but it housed the bikes and kept them sort of organized. Either way, I picked up a large number of cedar shingles as a roofing material. Time got away from me – I never roofed the barn. Instead, I used the shingles to create these cool little chalkboard slates. I used an exterior paint as primer, then covered them in green chalkboard paint. … Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Boomerangs and Chalkboard Slates
This spring, a sweet little book fell into my hands. Nina Tolstrup, an UK designer (she owns studiomama, a design firm). Her projects include lamps, scooters, wall planters, book ends and card holders – all out of One Block of Wood. Ms. Tolstrup’s eye for function and style dovetails nicely with her habits of simplicity. While not every project is truly made from one piece of wood, each project involves a minimum of cuts and a maximum of flexibility. As a woodworker, I appreciate her style – as a teacher, I appreciate her clear directions, beautiful visuals and simple construction. I’ve used … Continue reading Book Review: One Block of Wood by Nina Tolstrup
A few shots of the shutter table project. My students & I created these (there were four completed tables) tables using up-cycled window shutters & salvaged fence posts. Finished with spar urethane. Pocket hole joinery throughout. Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: Up-Cycled Shutter Coffee Table
I ended the year with an exploration of music. I used xylophones, pendulums and windchimes to explore frequency, wavelenght, pitch, volume, etc. I probably should have found a way to incorporate physical waves, but a trip to the beach was out of the question and I met disaster in my attempts at building a wave pool. We did, however, create a pretty sweet 2×4 xylophone and frame. Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend. Continue reading This Week in the Classroom: 2×4 Xylophone
My very first class for TX/RX Labs (or any other place non-school) is completed. Six students (adult, this time) built benches with me for two half days. We were a little crunched on time, but we stayed late (or showed up early) and completed our benches. I want to thank my students for coming and sticking with me, my teaching assistants (Oleg, Jim, Oz and Roland) and TX/RX Labs for having me. Most of all though, I want to thank my brother Jim. I think I’m good at this stuff – but I taught him how to build the bench … Continue reading Build a Bench This Weekend