Friday, July 06, 2007

Richard Bazeley is a woodworking teacher in St. Arnaud in Central Victoria, Australia. He teaches boys and girls grades 7-12. There are a lot of similarities in school conditions between the United States and Australia. He wrote the following to share in the blog, and I hope others will share as well.

As an introductory lesson to new 12-13 yr old students in the woodwork class I ask the students to trace their hand with a pencil on a blank sheet of A4 paper. They must also print their name and the date. This is an important record of the occasion and allows me to learn their names. It also gives me a starting point for the first lesson. I ask them to count the number of fingers. This gives me a lead in to talk about safety. I then show them my tracing and ask them to compare the size of their hand to that of an adult. This leads in to an examination of the tools we use and some basic ergonomics. Holding a saw, a square, even the way they hold a pencil all relate to their hands. When they receive their first piece of wood they are asked to use their other senses to examine and write about the grain, colour, texture, smell, sound and sometimes taste of the wood which is usually a piece of pine. We move on to measuring and writing down the dimensions of the wood before setting out some sizes and cutting pieces to length. The students end up with a handful of small cubes to make into dice. It is amazing what you can do with the minimum amount of materials. By the end of this lesson the students have had an introduction to the subject, safety, ergonomics as well as literacy and numeracy.

The above lesson does vary from the traditional approach in that it does not involve the preparation of the timber which is done by machine so that all students have the same size stock to begin with. It may sound to some like a very conservative approach but I am trying to lay some foundations here and put in place some basic skill and thinking that I think the students will benefit from.

One indication of the success of this lesson is that they are back waiting eagerly at the door the following week.

Richard Bazeley 2007-07-06

We find that kids are the same the world over. Nothing does so well at engaging their creative imaginations as working with wood. The photo below is of Richard with one of his students. Thanks Richard for sharing a great lesson.

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