Making a Makerspace: Planning the Steamworks

This fall, I move into a brand-spanking new classroom.  As part of this move, I’ve been heavily involved in the planning, organizing and logistics of moving my school’s Math & Science program into our new digs.  In the words of a close colleague of mine, what a great problem to have!  Long term readers of this blog have probably noticed a distinct drop off in posts over the past year – well, this massive move has been the main focus of my long-term planning and energy, leaving little left over for blogging or new projects.IMG_6409

That’s about to change.  This is the first of a series of posts on how I’m transforming an empty 20′ x 20′ room into a Makerspace.  I will be posting progress reports throughout the Fall 2013 semester, so keep checking back.  This post will focus on planning out the Makerspace, which I’ve named the STEAMworks. Continue reading “Making a Makerspace: Planning the Steamworks”

This Week In the Shop: One Block Projects – Book Ends

A little while ago, I ran a book review on One Block of Wood.  I recently made a pair of bookends using Ms. Tolstrup’s plans out of salvaged pine and live oak.  Hope you enjoy the looksee.  Read a good book this week. Especially books on pirates! Make it safe & keep the rubberside down. Continue reading This Week In the Shop: One Block Projects – Book Ends

Why I Do This: Monday Nights

Why I do this is a continuing series of…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

Why I Do This: Invest in Teaching and the Return on Adventure

I think we need a new measurement for tracking the success of our maker ventures, a new yardstick. I propose “Return on Adventure” via MAKE | Maximizing Your ROA (Return on Adventure). There’s been much discussion of the value, in dollars and sense, of a good teacher, via What is a Good Teacher Worth? – I’m a builder of things.  As a child, I built models and dioramas and train sets and miniatures.  In college I built poetry and plays, papers and rhymes.  I built a piss-poor set of ethics also, but that’s a different post.  Now, I build furniture at  … Continue reading Why I Do This: Invest in Teaching and the Return on Adventure

This Week In the Classroom: Pendulum Art (Swinging From the Rafters)

A quick video of our last major math project in my co-taught Math/Sci course.  I will take no credit, Ms. J took the project out of my clumsy claws and completely rocked it! We nicknamed this the spirograph project and you can tell from the wikipedia link that we are WRONG!  It should probably be described as pendulum art.  In reality, it’s just plain fun. The original prototype… And a great slideshow of other sandart created by our students. Continue reading This Week In the Classroom: Pendulum Art (Swinging From the Rafters)


Perplexity is the goal of engagement. We can go ten rounds debating eggs, broccoli, or candy bars. What matters most is the question, “Is the student perplexed?” Our goal is to induce in the student a perplexed, curious state, a question in her head that math can help answer. via dy/dan » Blog Archive » Ten Design Principles For Engaging Math Tasks. For me, that question is simply: “How does this work?” But I have to figure out a couple of better ones.  Right now, I’m building wind chimes, building rooms in Google Sketch Up, constructing an Art Car and maybe … Continue reading Perplextion

If I Had a Boat (Sailing Curriculum Unit)

In my middle school/junior high class, we’ve been exploring the relationship between sails, force, momentum, foam boats and area.  I’ve used the unit to assess the graphing labs we conducted last quarter and introduce non-linear graphs. I began the unit by asking students to research old sailing boats and draw conclusions from the material they gathered.  The students completed a K-W-L chart.  I then introduced the question: what is the most efficient sail? After some fits and starts (we have been doing some standardized testing practice to get ready for this week’s Stanford tests) we realized we needed to ask … Continue reading If I Had a Boat (Sailing Curriculum Unit)

On Kindles, iPads, SmartBoards, Prometheans and Apps in the Classroom

The textbook is now digital but students still encounter it as they always have: wisdom to be received, perhaps highlighted, annotated, and memorized, but not created, constructed, or made sense of. Teachers still interact with students as they always have. The platform doesn’t offer them any new insights into the ways their students think about mathematics. As far as I can tell, the iBook doesn’t establish any new link between the student and teacher, or strengthen any old ones. — Dan Meyer,  On iBooks 2 and iBooks Author In my classroom, I have very few textbooks.  They have their place … Continue reading On Kindles, iPads, SmartBoards, Prometheans and Apps in the Classroom