Teacher Tip: Use Two Bench Hooks

Dadoes are much easier to cut when you use two bench hooks…. You can even chisel out the waste right there.  My students are having such success using bench hooks, knee height workbenches and the tool chest I’m reconsidering my thoughts on bigger workbenches.  I’d like a better assembly table, but it ain’t nothing if I don’t have it. The kids are killing the simple bench project – in-progress pics coming soon. Continue reading Teacher Tip: Use Two Bench Hooks

Technology in Education: The Digital STEM Fair

You’ve been to a science fair, right?  Tri-fold boards, volcanoes and blue ribbons.  This month, my colleagues and I shepherded the “STEM Fair” into existence.  The STEM Fair is a showcase for any Science, Technology, Engineering or Math project our students produced over the course of a month.  My school produced forty to fifty blog posts, hundreds of digital pictures, a dozen two minute videos, thirty presentations and about ten individual physical showcases.  I have a room filled with Japanese art-chemistry, rocket cars, rockets of various propulsion methods, a small robot, a Lego-Branded robot, paper gliders, a seesaw and more.  … Continue reading Technology in Education: The Digital STEM Fair

This Week in the Classroom: Spring 2012

In the Spring of 2012, I began my third year as a classroom teacher.  I planned on teaching the courses below.  It didn’t happen.  Instead of a woodshop/technology resource, I became a project-oriented classroom teacher.  I taught 6th grade Math/Science & MS/9th Grade Math/Science and took part in two environmental education program periods.  The pace (four classes, no planning periods, co-teaching nearly everything) forced me to create or find flexible curriculum, taught me the value of three week (half a quarter) units and helped me become a stronger teacher.

The breakdown of what I wanted to teach after the jump.

Continue reading “This Week in the Classroom: Spring 2012”

Course Curriculum: Computer Applications:CAD

After my quick reflections on the Tea Box project and my computer science course, I’d like to take a spin over to my most successful, challenging and rewarding class(es) this semester.  I had the opportunity to teach 2 CAD courses with a great, energetic group of young men (and one woman).  As the year progressed my classes split into three distinct groups – a developmentally young (think elementary-school-age brains) group, a progressing (middle-school-age brains) and a developmentally-ready (high school or middle school) group.

My CAD course description:

In this course, students will create and build physical and digital representations of the world around them. Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development will frame the instruction to the appropriate cognitive developmental level for each student. Computer Assisted Design is the use of computers and specialized software to create digital objects; be they animations, skyscrapers or the interiors of engines. Students will use Google Sketch Up 8 to re-create and re-imagine the world around them, beginning with a floor-plan of their bedroom and ending with a self-directed project.

What made this course successful?  My answer after the jump.

Continue reading “Course Curriculum: Computer Applications:CAD”

This Week in the Classroom: Computer Science & Electronics

The Fall 2011 semester came to an end last week.   I’m taking stock of what-used-to-be (my previous semesters classes) and re-tooling, re-gearing and re-searching my way into new course-load.

I’d like to start with my Computer Science & Electronics course.  I described this course as:

This course introduces computer programming to students with little or no prior programming or technology experience. Students will use Alice, 3D graphical computer language, to introduce basic computer science theory. Topics to be covered include program design and problem solving, Boolean operators, logic statements, loops and flowcharts. Unlike other languages, Alice lends itself to an exploration of thought, rather than an exercise in coding or mathematical ability. If time allows, the Python language will also be explored.  In the electronics portion, students will explore basic electronic concepts of resistance, current and voltage.  Students will learn to build, manipulate and understand basic circuits & operate the tools necessary to create these circuits.  Students will identify basic parts, such as resistors, switches, wires and capacitors.

So, let’s go over the class and see how I did and what I will do better in the future.

Continue reading “This Week in the Classroom: Computer Science & Electronics”

Toy Making Jigs

My son has very strong feelings about woodworking show hosts.  “Herm” (Norm) is his favorite – he’s in love with power tools.  Me?  I prefer St. Roy. In this episode, St. Roy discussed and built several toys from 18th century America.  I was especially fascinated by the jig he uses to create small parts.  I saw an opportunity to move the jig into the classroom, especially as I wanted to build small wooden sculptures made from patterns created in Google Sketch Up.  I can’t say much about the project yet – somethings work, somethings don’t.  It’s quickly running away from … Continue reading Toy Making Jigs

Physics Carriages

In my MWF fourth period class, my students have been discovering and elaborating on the scientific method. I chose cars & ramps (aka pinewood derby car) as an opening project.  We spent two weeks learning the different parts of the scientific method and how to measure our results.  We create reports (I’m on my fourth week of school and the boys have created at least two science reports a week).  My lessons look something like this: Intro:  Pose a Question to Students.  What type of Hot Wheels cars goes the farthest?  How would we measure that?  How do we tell … Continue reading Physics Carriages

The Google Sketch Up Lab

This year, I’ve been working closely with another colleague to create, a project-based CAD course.  When I was presented with the challenge, I dove in head first. This week I have been presenting various perspective/drawing challenges to my students in an effort to assess their current capabilities.  I’ve been enjoying a curriculum challenge, and after two days, I am pleased by the success and interest posed by my students.  The room has been split into three themed stations: a perspective/assessment area, a guided-step project area and a digital manipulative lab. The assessment area has produced some fascinating results.  When confronted … Continue reading The Google Sketch Up Lab

Weather Stations, Web 2.0 Tools and John Merrow

This week, my colleague shanghaied one of my chalkboards for a weather station.  While the chalkboard & wind unit may not seem like much,

The hand-held reader really catches a teacher’s eye.

This type of scientific information begs to be utilized in the classroom.  Daily, nay, hourly temperatures can be recorded and used to find the mean temp, daily temp, range…mode, slope, points on a graph, equations for the daily rise in the temperature, regression lines, etc.  Science classes can study weather patterns, climate change or stasis, the water cycle.  A physics classroom can turn wind speed readings into kilowatt-hours.  Those figures can be amended into proposals for the installation of a wind turbine.

Wait…that’s my collegue put that device up there.

An English teacher can illuminate the difference between lab reports, short stories and literary analysis.  The data gathered in science class, analyzed in Math, interpreted and presented in English, can finally be acted upon in Social Studies.  In fact, this little weather station can become the technological center-point of a curriculum which could, theoretically be scaled between schools all over right?  A revolution? Continue reading “Weather Stations, Web 2.0 Tools and John Merrow”

Teacher Tip: Use Pilot Holes for Hammering!

When installing finishing brads and nails, I usually chuck the nail into the bit and punch a hole through the lumber.  This results in a minimal hole (the length of the nail minus the depth of my drill’s chuck jaws) which prevents most splitting. I recently “discovered” a secret – the deeper the pilot hole for my seven-year olds (2nd grade) the more successful the hammering.  Look at that kid go!  One handed, 7 oz claw hammer. He hammered those nails flush.  He could feel the excellence in his small act, see the effect in the larger project, and you … Continue reading Teacher Tip: Use Pilot Holes for Hammering!