"A different approach to Drafting"

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This course was developed for my 7th grade, but it has been found to be very effective on other age levels, including introductory college courses.


The response from those who have used this method of teaching drafting has been great.  For example, I asked a Junior high school teacher who used Lines & Views how it was going?  He said the high school drafting teacher was complaining about his former students who were in the high school class.  My heart skipped a beat, I had never heard anything like this!  The other Junior High teacher used a traditional method of teaching drafting.  Students from both teachers ended up in the same high school drafting class.  The high school teacher would make an assignment and shortly thereafter the students who had been through Lines & Views, would say "Now what do we do?"  The others were still struggling.  That is the kind of problem I like!

I could give many other testimonials.

The following is rather lengthy but anyone considering using Lines & Views needs to know why it is so successful.


When developing a year long course for my Junior High students, there was as major problem.  A problem similar to what most people have in their personal life, "Too much month left at the end of the money."   There were too many areas to cover and so much in each area there was no way to cover it all in the allotted time.   With the explosion of knowledge in recent times wise use of the student’s time is even more critical today.  We cannot teach them everything something has to be left out.  Drafting alone could easily use up a big chunk of the year.  Due to the limited time available, careful analysis was needed to determine how to make wise use of the student’s time.   

Industry uses drawings to design and convey the design information to those who make the object.   Engineers and draftsmen make drawings.  Traditionally, in our vocational classes, I consider college vocational,  we try to duplicate what is done in industry, so we have the students make drawings.  In our high school classes we do the same, but due to time limitations we water down the vocational course.  They still made drawings, but not as difficult.   Courses for grades 7 and 8 were usually watered down high school courses.  They still made drawings, but they are not as difficult as in the high school courses.

Many of the vocational students go into industry and make drawings.  A few of the high school students will do the same.  How many of the 7th grade students ever make another drawing?  Very few, but they need to be introduced to drafting and most will have the need to read a drawing some time later in life.  The emphasis should be reading a drawing, not making formal drawings.

A major question needed to be answered, "What is drafting?"  As I see it, drafting is "Lines," the meanings of those lines, "Views" and the relationships between those views.  "Line & Views" is the emphasis of the course, so that is it's name.

Lines & Views teaches the concepts of drafting, not the technique of making drawings.  Technique is to be taught in later courses to those who wish to pursue the field.


Since the emphasis was on reading, not making drawings, getting the lines on the paper were not a priority, things such as shape of arrowheads, lettering, centering on the page, proper borders and title blocks.  Such things were left out.  Interestingly when CAD became popular the very things I had left out are things CAD does automatically.

Speaking of CAD, I hired someone to do some drawings using CAD.  The first thing he did was make a sketch of the object first, then draw it using CAD.  He used his knowledge of drafting to make the sketch.  CAD was just a tool he used to make accurate and neat drawings.  Lines & Views prepares them for CAD.


Not only is the philosophy of what should be taught different, the way the material is presented is different.  For instance, traditionally one of the very first things a student must learn in drafting is the alphabet of lines.  One of those lines is a cutting plane line.  They learn its name and how to draw the line at the beginning of the course, but usually do not use it, and learn the real meaning of the line, until near the end of the course.  In the long version of Lines & Views there are 112 problems.  Cutting plane lines are not introduced until just before problem 101.  That is when they are to use the lines.  We do not even introduce hidden lines until page 30.  This is a much more effective method than learning the name and how to draw the line at the first of the course and using it later.


Babies have to learn to crawl before they walk.  They learn to walk before they run.  The same is true with other learning.   Starting with the very basic and adding to that as they learn is a major premise of this book.  A simple principle, but very important.  The concept of adding onto what they have already learned and making each problem just a little harder is one of the main reasons for the success of this program.   More about sequence later.


Recently the book was edited again for the "umpteenth" time.  Problem 10  is a good example of how carefully each problem has been designed.  Too many students were still having trouble with the problem.  Improvements were still needed. The purpose of the problem is to practice measuring using 1/16ths.  The problem was simplified by changing points, so as often as possible the points was on a grid line.  And attempts were made so only one of the X, or Y, dimensions was in 1/16ths at the same time.  This was not always possible, but an attempt was made.  It took hours just to refine the problem and that does not include time spent testing 3 different revisions with a student.  All that work for just one problem, but such refinement is an important key to the success of the course.


Decide what you want the student to learn and ask them to do only that.  Nothing else.  Sounds simple, but some teachers do not do it that way. 

One of the first things a student must learn is how to read a ruler, right?  I don't think so!  Many students have a lot of trouble learning to read a ruler.  Why?  I believe it is because we try to teach two things at a time;
    (1) the concept of measurement
    (2) the markings on a piece of wood, metal, or plastic .

In Lines & Views they learn to measure by counting squares on a 1/4 inch grid first.  They do not even use a ruler until they are about halfway through the book.  By then they already understand measurements, they just need to understand the different length lines on the stick (ruler).  It is much easier to teach the two concepts separately.

To give another example, I took a short course on learning how to use a version of CAD.  For the very first exercise, we were given an isometric drawing with no dimensions and were to use CAD to make 3 orthographic views of the object.  We had to:
    (1) make measurements, using fractional rulers,
    (2) convert fractions to decimals,
    (3) be sure the individual measurements matched the overall measurements,
    (4) translate the isometric into orthographic
    (5) do the drawings using CAD.
The purpose of the course was learning how to use CAD, but on the first exercise we had to do five different things,  four of the things we had to do had nothing to do with CAD.  Even though I already knew how to do the first four, I found it confusing,  Imagine how it would have been to a student who was new to all five things.  Have the student do only what they need at the time.   


At the very first of the book they are told where to make a datum point.  They are to start at the datum point and go up 1 square and 2 squares to the right to locate the first point.  From that point they are to go to the right 4 squares to locate the second point.  This is continued until they have located 6 points, then they connect all points.  It forms the letter "L."

Next, they are told there is a simpler way of writing the instructions.  It is explained that one square equals 1/4 of an inch, two squares equals two quarters, which is the same as 1/2 inch, 3 squares equals 3/4 inch and four squares equals four quarters which is the same as one inch.

They are told the horizontal lines are all called "X" lines, vertical lines are called "Y" lines.  If they are to go up, or to the right, the symbol is "+" is used.  The symbol for going down, or to the left, is a "-".

The second problem uses the simpler method to tell them what to do.  After they have completed the problem they find the shape is the same as the first problem.  The only thing difference was the method of writing the instructions.

After they have used "X" and "Y", "+" and "-",  they are told it is part of what is called the "Cartesian coordinate system."  This may not seem like a big deal, but it is.  Starting the class by stating, "Today we are going to learn THE CARTESIAN COORDINATE SYSTEM" will lose many in the class.  That sounds difficult!


When talking about this course I often use the term "developed" rather than written, because it took years to perfect and it is still being perfected. 

Each problem has been carefully planned and put in a specific sequence to enable the student to effectively move from the simple to the difficult.  Each problem is there to teach something new.  It must not be too much harder than the previous problem, but then it must not be too simple either.

As each class was doing the work I would observe and make changes for the next version.  If very many students had trouble solving one of the problems I tried to figure out why.  It could be too much new was in the problem and if it was, then the problem was divided and another problem added, or it might be a figure with explanation was needed.

The use of lots of "figures" in the book is one of the reasons the program is so successful.   Interestingly, the long version has 112 problems and 112 figures.  It was not planned to have the same number, it  just came out that way.  The point is, there are lots of examples.

If no one in the class had trouble with a problem the problem was eliminated and the new material in that problem was added to the problem before, or after that problem and retested.  This process was repeated for many years and many versions.  The result is a carefully planned sequence of problems. The problems in the sequence become more difficult with each problem, but in easy steps.

I have had many student teachers over the years.  They had all had at least 9 hours of college drafting.   Many would have trouble with problems in the book, even when most of the students in the class did not.  This was because the students in the class had gone through the sequence, the student teachers had not.   This reinforced my thinking as to the importance of the sequence.  I do not recommend selecting different problems for the students to work. 

I  had someone express interest in publishing and promoting the workbook in conjunction with a program he has.  He looked at it and asked if it would bother me if he changed some of the problems to be more like everyday objects.   I said it would destroy the book.  Without the carefully thought out and developed sequence it becomes a typical bunch of "mutilated blocks." 


It took most of my students 7 weeks to complete "Lines and Views."  There were no testing days and no chasing rabbits.  That was the minimum time.  It would work well as a 9 week course.  A lot depends upon the teacher.

The last time I taught the course, I introduced the book to the students and told them they were to proceed at their own rate.  If they had any questions, they were to let me know and I would help them, but there were no daily assignments.  In effect, it was a self study course.  When they finished with the course they could go into the lab and start on the projects.  That was a motivation.  Many of the students finished in 6 weeks, or less.

Several years ago I was invited to talk to a group of teachers about "Lines & Views."  One of the teachers in the group said he only had 3 weeks, what did I suggest?  I suggested "looking for another program."  The next year I was invited back to talk to another group.  The teacher who had asked the questions was my host.  He asked if I remembered his question?  I did.  He said they started at the first of the book, spent 3 weeks, then stopped and he liked it very much.  There is a better way.  If they spend only 3 weeks they may not get to isometrics.  Some students have trouble understanding the three views, but when they get to drawing isometrics from 3 views, the "light comes on." 

It appears many schools want a 4 week course, so a  4 week version has been developed.   The average student should complete the book in 4 weeks, some will do it in less time, some will need more time.  The first of the book is the same in the long and short versions.  They do less isometric to orthographic and less orthographic to isometric.  They do some simple developments.   


The original version was a small book, only 27 pages.  It had 112 problems, 112 figures and some text.  Cramming so much in such a small space meant the figures and the problems had to be rather small.

All work was done on grid and copy paper.  The cost of the copy paper is relatively inexpensive, but the cost of grid paper can be relatively expensive.

There are several advantages to a  workbook version.
    1.  It is much easier for the student to do the work.  The problem and a place to do the
            work are side by side on the same sheet.
    2.  The drawings and figures are larger and easier to read.  The cost is more, but not
            having to purchase additional papers for the non-workbook version makes the
            difference less.
    3.  They do developments on a grid sheet, cut them out and fold the object.  Most grid
            sheets are not very heavy.  The grid sheets in the workbook are on a much heavier
            paper which makes it easier for the student to use.
    4.  Having the students work in a specified space makes it much easier for the teacher to grade.


NOTE: The following remarks are based upon the long version of Lines & Views.  Problems 1-33 are the same in both versions.