Thursday, March 19, 2009

We are starting one of my favorite projects of the year - the House Plan Project. It seems every year, it is a bit different, but the bottom line is always an experience, a real life experience in scale, scale factor, and scale models.

I start to generate excitement by hanging blueprints around the room. We talk about different elevations, or views, shown on the prints. We explore the site plans/landscape plans. I share with them entire blueprint books from big commerical projects from nearby towns.

The next part of the assignment is where things start to get a bit tough. I send students home to measure their own home. I loan measuring tapes to those who need one. I try to give a week to get the measurements taken, since it can be a time-consuming task, one that is easier done with a partner. Every day I remind them about taking measurements, encouraging them to use a sunny day, one that is a bit warmer, since they will be climbing over snowbanks outside to measure.

Inevitably though, the first day of the project, a few show up with no measurements. I could, in theory, give them some. But this defeats much of the purpose of the assignment, having them visualize their home and create a scale model of it. Being given a floor plan to follow takes their creativity out of the mix, turns it into an assignment rather than a project, and is in no way challenging or stimulating.

Then, not only do those students miss out on the experience of completing this project, the learning part, they are disruptive and tough to handle the days we are working in class.

Others students are engaged, drawing, making models, drawing elevation views, learning, sharing, and experiencing.

How do I get these other students to engage?

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