The Woodshop is a process oriented, project based curriculum. Whether student created or teacher assigned, each student plans, executes, and finishes his or her project with our supervision.
Each of these aspects is of equal importance. None is more important than the other. We look for small successes within the context of real world expectations. By this I mean, given the expectations of the student, how can we help this child's project happen within time constraints, material limitations, and knowing the child's skill set. We also support failure as an appropriate and significant part of the process of problem solving and in fact an important part of life. Materials and tools present each student with certain non-negotiable characteristics that have to be understood and assimilated. A board cannot be uncut!
At each grade level our objectives are, first, for each child to learn to use woodworking tools safely and appropriately, secondly, to have each child draw their project with dimensions before selecting material, and, third, for each child to problem solve their work with our assistance.
The first objective not only creates a safe setting, but also helps children develop confidence and mastery in a sometimes scary environment.
Drawing helps students visualize. It’s a transition step between imagination and actualization. It also helps them understand volume, proportion, and dimension.
And third when children come to us and ask how do I do this? We turn it around and ask, "What do you think you can do?" And from there the discussion follows.
Within the framework of these projects and at each grade level we make certain appropriate mathematic assumptions.
With the younger students 1st and 2nd grade there is a general understanding of length and width and a beginning understanding of a ruler and tape measure.
They are beginning to recognize and understand symmetry in 3 dimensional objects, but interestingly when visualizing and planning 3D objects it is limited to 2 dimensions. Their drawings are flattened to reveal otherwise unseen parts or what I like to call ‘The elephant sat on it' drawings. A table will be drawn as a square and then the legs stick out every which way in starburst fashion describing every detail necessary to create a piece of furniture.
By third grade they are beginning to visualize the 3rd dimension and are just beginning to use it in their drawings. I am expecting each student to think about and physically shape their projects more. Again helping them work and feel their objects in three dimensions.
4th and 5th grade are expected to understand combinations of geometric shapes in 3 dimensions, appreciate and recognize asymmetry and symmetry and have full understanding of planning in three dimensions.