Teacher Throwdown: Make Something This Summer
It’s June. The school year is done. Grades are in, students are out, and it’s time for two and a half glorious months of mai tais and piña coladas and not telling anyone to "Knock it off with the electric pencil sharpener, or, God help you Emilio, you’ll be doing it by hand for the rest of the year.”
When I was teaching, I managed to relax for all of ten days. Then it was a couple of months of analyzing my practice, scheming about ways to bolster reading scores with Mad Libs, creating a DIY version of the Yacker Tracker* with an Arduino (still in the works, two years removed from the classroom), and kind of missing all the shenanigans of 150 thirteen year-old kids in Oakland.
Summer is a great time to dig into project-based learning. It’s free time to get better at something that takes extra time. Building a project during the school year when you’re unsure of how it’ll work with your kids is for the brave or foolhardy. Or shop teachers. Making that project fit within your curriculum? Your budget? Your principal’s vision of studious children poring over a district-approved textbook? That’s insane.
So I issue this challenge to the educators out there on Instructables: pick a project, make it over the summer, then work it into a unit or lesson plan. Build it now so you can use it later. Because design challenges are somewhat more challenging when confronted by a classroom of 35 kids coming in after lunch on a hot day in August.
Use your summer. Adapt an existing project (like one of these, perhaps) or create something new just for your class. Channel your inner Phineas/Ferb** and put the 104 days of summer vacation to good use. In between piña coladas.
Send me a PM with what you’re building, or talk about it in the comments.
*The Yacker Tracker is a sound-controlled traffic light that changes based upon the decibel level in the classroom. It's a prize in the Education Contest that runs until Monday, June 4th.
**This is a Disney cartoon about two stepbrothers who build something every day over the summer. I highly recommend it.