This project basically grew out of the effort of two teachers to try to find a better way to hook our students into their classroom learning expreience. As an SEC (Service for Exceptional Children) teacher I have a caseload of students that I am responsible for keeping track of and monitoring their progress. In the process of monitoring my kids, many of whom take automotive technology, I developed a friendship with James DeLuca the Automotive Instructor.
As teachers often do, we struggled with the problem of motivatng apathetic students while at the same time challenging high achevers. While doing a V-8 conversion on his Ford Ranger, James had noticed that kids responded well and learned more during long-term buildup projects as compared to tearing things down or doing small-scale service work. Perhaps the continuity of a long-term project helps maintain students focus or working on a complete vehicle makes it easier to see the interrelationship between automotive systems. The problem, he explained, was finding a donor vehicle and funding for this type of project.
I envied James because of all the hands on exprience he was able to provide his students. I considered the fact that his kids were learning skills that could be applied to maintainance of their own car or prehaps even a paying job a wonderful and natural motivator.
My students are constantly required to express themselves in writting and are generally dissatisfied with the writting topics I suggest. to make matters worse, they often have difficulty identifying topics on their own. It occured to me that we might be able to tap into their interest in computers and the internet by helping them create a student developed website but I lacked the the computer savvy to make it happen.
When I had the opportunity to rebuild a 78 toyota landcruiser FJ-40 (something I had always wanted to do) an idea began to form in my mind. I proposed to James that we work on the rebuild together as a teaching opportunity. I offered to fund the project as long as he was comfortable moving at the limited pace that my meager budget allows. As we began to brainstorm, the idea slowly took shape. The plan is for James to instruct his advanced students through hands on assembly and use the buildup as a teaching tool for his intro kids. Guest lecturers will be recruited from the community and brought in whenever possible. My students will document the progress in writing and through photos for use on a website. Mr.Belcher and Mr.Deluca will guide technology students through the process of website design and development. Mr. Belcher's technology students will also attempt to apply lessons from the computer aided design (CAD) module to the project for inclusion on the website.
We hope to have many students from varied disciplines excited to be involed in different aspects of the same project. Our hope is that by having several students from different classes involved in the same thing that they will be more likely to recognize that the lessons from one class carry over and can be generalized to other settings/classes.We want students to discover the overlap and value of skills that they are being taught. In addition, we hope each student will be able to come away with a learning exprience they are proud of and can share with others through the Wrold Wide Web.