One of the biggest problems I've run into in the classroom, especially being a TA for beginning sewing, is the students inability to connect to the subject.
Here is an example: One of the first projects that beginning sewing students at BYU do needs to include darts. To me darts are a simple fitting element, to everyone else they seem to be a mystery. Even though we describe darts students don't really get it until they are looking for patterns with darts and they ask me a million questions.
Another example: Learning about pastry dough in a cooking class, it is hard to explain why it is necessary to divide the butter in the dough and mix it so carefully. Even if you tell them why you do it, and how, a lot of the time they don't get it.
What I have noticed about students learning in hands-on classrooms is that if they figure it out themselves and relate it to their own experience they are able to understand the skills and concepts a lot better.
My solution? www.wallwisher.com
Basically wallwisher.com is an interactive note board. You can make the site private or public, and people can post notes about a topic or theme. The head of the site (you) controls what post-its get to stay on the site.
I think that this is helpful because while we are going over the topic in class students can use the board (or rather they are required to post) to share info and personal relationships to the topic. For example, the wall that I created for my fake FACs class has a theme of eggs. I've posted different notes about eggs. The students would be required to post anything they know about eggs. Extra points would be given for experiments. When students realize how a topic relates to their life they will be able to understand it better, and do better on assessments.
For my dart example I would probably ask my students to take pictures of their own clothes with darts (or online if they don't have any) and post then on the wall. Then other people can see darts, where they go, and hopefully why they go there.
Wallwisher is super easy to use. You just sign up with a valid email address and you have one. To post a note you double click on the page and a square pops up. The reason I like wallwisher so much is because when you click on the notes to read them it will pop up a mini window of links that the person has posted. So the web page will pop-up small, or even youtube videos can be accessed right there.
Here are some screenshots of my wall, and here is the link to my wall!