Thursday, January 28, 2016

arriving at second floor.

Yesterday was intense as my students worked on their box guitars, and as upper elementary school students worked on their long list of tools for their class travel coming up in April. For that, they need rock exploration tools: mallet, chisel and seive, a mineral collection box with dividers and a cutting board map of the state. So I have students working on various aspects of these projects at the same time, and I've been asking them to help each other more instead of asking me to advise on every little thing.

 Last week I had an extended conversation with Ben Kellman who is current president of the North East Association of Woodworking Teachers (NEAWT). He laid out several points that he considers his elevator speech... If you only have the amount of time that you spend in an elevator to make your point, what can you say to convince a skeptic of the value of woodworking education? So quickly, here are five points... Woodshops safely transfer skill between generations. Students learn to plan and engage creatively in making. Students learn how to fail successfully in a supportive environment that encourages them to risk doing so. It is active (which is extremely appealing to students). And it offers opportunities for collaboration. I have not stated these as eloquently as Ben, but I'm hoping you can get the point long before we get  to the second floor.

Collaboration comes into play all the time in wood shop as students work together and help each other. But the wood shop also provides the opportunity for staff collaboration as we plan ways to work together. One of the things I'm working on with our upper elementary school teacher is a presentation for next year's ISACS conference in Columbus, Ohio. We will use the current wood shop project  with her students to explain hands-on learning, and its integral, collaborative purpose in the school at large.

The photo above shows some simple prototypes of boxes for this week's class and earlier boxes that I kept in the shop as examples from earlier classes. The redwood box at upper right is from my first experimentation with this type of hinge. Kids love boxes and making them, and many of my students of all ages have boxes at home that they made in the school wood shop.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the possibility to learn likewise.

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