The next step is to draw a detailed design of your idea from two viewpoints. This is the point where I ask students to move from simply sketching, to drawing with detail. I also ask them at this stage to add labels and begin considering materials. I usually say something like “If you think that you are going to build that part out of cardboard, write “cardboard” on the design somewhere, and draw an arrow to that part.”
This is also the time where I give the students a size limitation. Giving them a size limit can tend to frustrate them, but it serves three purposes. First, it means that we aren’t all making giant designs that can’t be stored in our limited space. Second, it saves on materials. Third, it helps them to understand that they are not building full life size models, but instead scaled prototypes.
One of the things that I have learned is that the students have big ambitions. If you give them the space, and the materials, they will build it in full size. However, that also means that they expect it to work as if it were built out of sturdier stuff than cardboard and paper!
This is also the point where I do the LIT Studio Orientation. The orientation involves watching a video that introduces the LIT Studio space, and the items in it, while also going through the safety rules and expectations. After watching the video, I usually have students come up and do their materials shopping. Shopping for materials, or at least looking for what is in the room is a great way to get them familiar with what is in the room and what is available to use. This gets them up and walking around the room for a short time, which is usually all the time that is left over in this lesson.
This is also where I emphasize, quite heavily, the importance of safety in the LIT Studio. I explain the safety rules and expectations and how it is everyone’s responsibility to be safe. I even tell them that if they see a teacher being unsafe, they must speak up. That is usually me forgetting to put gloves on in the hot glue gun station!
These are our two main safety signs. They are both on the wall by the door so they are able to be seen as students walk in. The one with the colors for supervision is posted in multiple places around the room, including locations where supervision is needed. This system has turned out to be very helpful in the management and independence of the room. Students don’t need to ask if they can use a tool since they know the rules by looking at it.
It is also easy to manage students because, when I spot them using a tool in error, all I have to do is say, “What color is the tool you are holding?” Then they can look down at the color coding system and realize straight away that they are not following the expectations. They also monitor each other in this way.
The safety equipment icons are also able to be used round the room to show what should be worn in any specific station. I add those three icons to each station sign and students can self manage their safety.
All of these systems have led to a room that allows students to have a level of independence. This, in turn, gives way to more creativity and exploration of their ideas.
Stay tuned for part 6/6