For many industrial-arts students, "footing," "building line," and "plumb rule" are only terms in a textbook. But in Moscow, Idaho, a handful of students are putting these objects to work as they construct a private home for a local citizen.
In a program begun last year at Moscow High School, the students are spending two hours every schoolday for nine months building a house.
"In a 'real life' situation," says their industrial-arts teacher, Steven K. Jackson, "I can teach the students the skills of the building trades and teach them what it's like to be a carpenter."
"Some were surprised that there was so much [manual] labor," he adds. "They get an idea that a carpenter drives nails all day. They don't realize that there are other skills [used]," such as shoveling dirt and lifting heavy objects.
The students use more mathematics and geometry than they thought were needed and are rarely prepared to work in cold, unheated buildings, he notes.
Surveyers, building inspectors, and other professionals work with the students as the construction progresses. Mr. Jackson says that although the students cannot spend enough time to finish the house, they have a chance to work on every phase of the construction.
For further information, contact: Steven K. Jackson, Moscow High School, District 281, 410 East 3rd St., Moscow, Idaho 83843.
A bird sanctuary made of old Christmas trees and birdfeeders provides a locus of astonishment and learning for the 1st-grade students at Fieldston Lower School in the Bronx, N.Y.
For more than 10 years, the school has used as the core curriculum for its 1st graders the study of birds. The two current teachers, Karen I. Freede and Margaret Rockwell, use the children's curiosity and interest in the birds to teach them many academic subjects.
Each year, the students tie old Christmas trees together in a yard outside their classroom windows and build bird feeders to hang on them. The feeders attract the area's winter birds--a phenomenon that prompts questions about, for example, their habitats, markings, and feeding habits.
The children devise stories, read as much as they can, and create art work relating to the birds they observe.
By tallying the types of birds, the children learn to count and to write numbers. Because they must differentiate between very similar birds, they acquire skills of discrimination that help them detect dissimilarities in the shapes of written letters, according to their teachers.
Ms. Freede reports that the children often raise questions about bird extinction and endangered species. For further information, contact: Karen I. Freede or Margaret Rockwell, Fieldston Lower School, Fieldston Rd. and Manhattan College Parkway, Bronx, N.Y. 10463.
Fifth and sixth graders, eager to be effective babysitters, learned the requisite skills from some of Duluth's parents last year at Lincoln Elementary School in Duluth, Minn. The "teachers" were parents who wanted competent babysitters for their own children.
Rather than simply complain about the lack of responsible babysitters, 10 parents who were active in a state-funded program, called Parents of Young Children, in the Duluth Public Schools decided to help babysitters meet their high child-care standards. Using curricular materials from the Red Cross, these adults conducted two after-school sessions at the elementary school on the practical art of bathing, feeding, bedding, and monitoring very young children.
Commenting on the youthfulness of the students attending the sessions, Bonnie J. Kirkpatrick, parent educator and program liaison for the Parents of Young Children Program, said, "We were surprised that the majority of the children were already babysitting regularly."
The students, who enjoyed practicing their skills on real babies during the sessions, received certificates from the Red Cross and had their names printed in a list that was distributed to parents.
A number of parents reportedly found steady babysitters from this list.
For further information, contact: Bonnie J. Kirkpatrick, Parent Educator, Parents of Young Children Program, Duluth Public Schools, Lake Ave. and 2nd St., Duluth, Minn. 55802--Tricia Furniss
Word of innovative, effective programs may be sent to SCHOOLS: WHAT WORKS, Education Week, 1333 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., #560, Washington, D.C. 20036. (When writing to others for more details, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)