Thursday, January 08, 2009

What have I started?

Today, I proposed to our world history students that we build a boat large enough for the entire class (nine students) to go out together on Lake Leatherwood. I asked that they be "on-board" with the project. I volunteered to be safely on shore with the video camera.(just joking) Making boats was what they mentioned would interest them when I asked, and it is the teacher's job to follow interests (where possible, reasonable and safe) to sustain enthusiasm for life long learning. It involves risks. I asked my students, "Do you learn more when things go right or when things fail?" "When things fail!" They said. So, if you are a teacher, you work toward things that push the limits, both for yourself and your students.

The photos above show the half model for our boat. This type of half model is held together by dowels as it is shaped. Then the model can be pealed apart for measuring and put back together to be kept for a later time. If you have half of a perfectly symmetrical object, it carries all the information required for the creation of the whole thing. and the process of creating left from right is an important part of the development of spatial sense. Remember algebra? The left equals the right. In this we are doing math without it seeming so much like math.


  1. Ah, how refreshing! Children today WANT to learn, they WANT to be challenged, they ARE interested in learning. Kudos to you for keeping your ear to the rail on what is meaningful to them. Build a boat in five weeks? SURE, why not!!!!

  2. I'm looking forward to seeing the progress on the boat!

    I came across your blog when looking for woodworking project advice for my practically minded six year old son.

    The blog is always thought provoking and inspirational. Lovely to have such frequent updates, as well.

    Thank you!

  3. JD and Elaine, thanks for reading and leaving your encouraging comments.I am so lucky to teach in a school where I am allowed to take risks on behalf of student learning.(and my own!)