Woodworking Teacher Gets Creative During Distance Learning
TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – Teachers all across Utah have adapted their lessons for distance learning. But not everything in high school can be done from home. So a Taylorsville teacher got extra creative to make his hands-on woodworking class—hands-off.
“I started thinking, how am I going to teach woodworking online? And I knew right then and there that videos was the only answer,” said woodworking teacher Dirk Menzel.
The Covid-19 closure hit right at the time his Taylorsville High students were getting ready to assemble their projects. Students worried how they would complete the assignment.
“How am I going to finish my project? Can I come in and work? They were literally panicking,” he said.
And that is when Menzel came up with a plan. The money he saved from purchasing supplies, he spent on a camera. The students wouldn’t be able to actually do the work, but they could at least watch him getting it done.
“These videos I’ve been making are literally taking a student’s project and going through and teaching them about pocket screws, about saw processes, staining, sanding,” he said.
He’s finished more than a dozen of his students’ projects, from a shoe cabinet, to night stands, even two dining room tables. He’s still got a guitar case and coffee table still to complete in the shop.
Sure, he knows learning a craft online isn’t ideal. But at least students can see the process from beginning to end.
And while he misses interacting with his students in-person, their follow up questions have ended up teaching him.
“They ask things that just help me out so much and it proves to me that a process can be done in so many different ways,” Menzel said.
With his trademark positive attitude, and can-do educator spirit, he hopes students come away with a project and a vision they’ll remember.
“It’s been the next best thing to being there,” he laughed.
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