Day 90: JanTerm Begins

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

This class is called Making & DIY Culture and I co-teach it with two math colleagues. There are 20 students in this course which meets all day every day for the first three weeks in January.

We’re teaching the students what it means to be makers, so we started off with a basic introduction to woodworking. The first task was disassembling pallets, followed by using that wood to make boxes. Most students haven’t ever used these tools — pry bars, hammers, and saws — so it was up to the teachers to instruct on their safe operation.

As with last year, the hardest part of any woodworking project with these kids is nailing boards together. Everywhere I looked were crooked nails and split wood!

Side note: a maker class that runs for three weeks requires a temporary makerspace. This is no small feat that my colleagues and I spend a semester planning and two days setting up:

  • While my school is well outfitted with tools, my colleagues and I supplement with our personal tools. For this course, we’ve assembled five drills, two mitre saws, two palm sanders, and so many hammers, for example.
  • All the student tables get covered in butcher paper — I’d hate to mess up another teacher’s furniture.
  • Tools also go on butcher paper on the counters around the room. I outline every tool so that we know where everything goes at cleanup time.
  • We brought in loads of extra trash containers to go next to each power tool. Scrap wood (“trash”) is smaller than your hand and keeper wood (“treasure”) is bigger and goes in a community pile.
  • There’s a classroom and a power tool room, which are actually two science classrooms located next door to each other. Students are trained on power tools and we only allow their operation if a teacher is in the room. The power tool room gets hella messy because I don’t have anything in there for dust collection. I need to fix this.

The day was a whirlwind. It’s the exhausting high point of my teaching year.

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