Monday, May 21, 2012

today in the CSS woodshop...

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, 4th, 5th and 6th grade students finished the sail boats they have been making as part of their study of oceans. Then this afternoon, the high school students helped me to assemble the SawStop table saws. I had hoped to get them assembled before now, but also hoped to first sell the old saw. I finally just took it apart and moved it out to make room, and it will be sold later.

Experts are becoming quite concerned about children having too free of access to the internet and too much screen time, effecting how they think. We know the well documented adverse effects of screen time: an increase in childhood obesity, lack of attention, poor social development, lower grades, and lower overall school engagement, each directly proportional to the amount of time spent on screened devices, whether television, computers or smart phones. The article notes:
The impact of heavy media and technology use on kids' social, emotional and cognitive development is only beginning to be studied, and the emergent results are serious. While the research is still in its early stages, it suggests that the Internet may actually be changing how our brains work. Too much hypertext and multimedia content has been linked in some kids to limited attention span, lower comprehension, poor focus, greater risk for depression and diminished long-term memory.
Even at Clear Spring School, I have difficulty getting the kids to all listen at the same time to instructions that they must hear in order to make even simple things. Today was not my best day. Listening to the kids talking about what they'd seen on youtube, while having to assert my own needs for their attention did not make my day a happy one. I was grumpy. I think I must be ready for summer break, and working with adults who have a much greater interest in what I have to teach. All my summer classes are now full with the exception of openings in my box making class at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine.

The photos above show the new saws, finally in place and kids with boats.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Sailboats.
    So my question here is defining the connection between the sail boat building and the formal instruction. Again - the formal\informal bridge. Are the sailboats a reinforcing activity, which immerse the learners in an all-encompassing ocean learning environment? Or are the sailboats an integral part of understanding oceans?
    Why is there wind on the sea? How is the hull shaped and from what material is it made - buoyancy? Are salt-water vessels different that fresh water ships?
    I ask these questions of myself first and then pose them to other teachers who incorporate hands on informal projects in their curriculum.

  2. David, it seems most questions arise from failure rather than success, and so while the teacher may pose interesting questions, and should do so, the student starts our with some assumptions about what is or should be true that are erroneous. There are things to learn about the relationship between the hull shape, the design of the sail, the appropriate weight and design of the keel. And all of these things are factors that the children have never been invited to investigate. They also have never been invited to understand how things are made, for instance, how do you create a perfectly symmetrical shape? A thing as simple as a boat can be addressed on so many different levels. How far the boat can go and the teacher or student can go with it depends on so many factors, like time. Unfortunately, this was our last project of the year. Perhaps the students will test their boats this summer and learn something more from them about the intersection of wind and water.

  3. Doug, my interest lies in the interaction between the woodshop guide\teacher\instructor and the formal classroom teacher. Do questions arise about ocean while making sailboats that dovetail formal class time units? Does the science teacher leave some questions open for exploration in the woodshop? For instance:
    Science teacher: “Average waves are so and so many feet, how does this effect the shape and size of the hull? Think about this today in woodshop?”

    Woodshop: “Is there a difference between wind on land and at sea? Does the wind always blow in the direction the captain desires? Ho does the design of the sail relate to seasonal wind patterns?

    And this goes on and on.

    My goal is to have as many classes possible complementing each other’s content and reflecting the necessity of cross discipline learning.

    This will be my job next year in Cleveland on my sabbatical. Working with teacher to integrate study across disciplines while centering around a hands on project….