Taking My Flooded Basement to the Classroom

The Background
We came home from a 4th of July party in a storm with torrential downpours. We are one of the lucky ones in a newer development where all our wires are underground and therefore it is a rarity that we lose power. We hadn’t had water in our basement in 10+ years when the sump pump failed. We didn’t lose power that night, but when my daughter was walking through the basement and water began coming up through the carpet, we realized something was really wrong and it was not going to a fun cleanup. The sump pump was still running, but there was a crack in the pipe under the water level, so there was no warning that our basement was about to flood.

How do you cut carpet?
There are 2 ways to cut carpet. When we started, the only choice was to cut it from the top. Even with a brand new razor blade or carpet knife, this takes 2 or 3 slices to get through the carpet and the mesh that holds the carpet together.  We soon realized it was easier to make fewer cuts on the top and then roll the carpet so we could make larger and longer cuts on the bottom – it only took 1 quick run of the blade from the underside!

How many times do we continue to do things the same way, because we can only see one side of the problem? We keep hacking away, our tools lose their ability to cut through the problem, and we lose so much valuable time because we aren’t looking for a different approach or even a different tool. The solution to cutting the carpet was to attack it from another angle. Are we allowing our students to do this in the classroom? Are we collaborating with other teachers to make this happen?

How do you remove water-logged padding?
Due to the water, the weight of the padding was really slowing down our progress. We had tried using a shopvac to remove the water from the carpet, but that was a fail. It didn’t remove the water and we still had padding that weighed too much.  We tried squeezing water out and having someone else shopvac the water. The answer was using the shopvac while the padding was still in place, and then removing the padding.

Sometimes we need to remove a layer to get to the underlying problem. We try helping a student with a problem or a concept but they struggle because the real problem is in a misconception they have in their foundation. We need to utilized formative assessments better. A simple pre-test or review of necessary concepts can give us an understanding of why we can’t get the ‘top layer’ fixed. Then we can use different methods and strategies to fix the bottom layer before we move on.

How do you remove carpet tack strips?
After the carpet and padding were removed, our next challenge was the tack trips. I’ll admit to already stepping on one of these in bare feet because I didn’t want to get my shoes wet. It hurt as bad as you would think, and I now have a sore foot AND wet shoes. I had no idea how to get these little boards off my cement floor, and I had no idea how they were installed. One YouTube video later, along with a trip to the hardware store, and I was ready to go.

How often do we allow students to find the answer or discover the answer? I would have started with a different approach to the tack strips and ended up with a mess. Learning is messy. Why not allow our students to follow their path and record their successes. That should be the YouTube video I find; one with a student explaining how they discovered the best answer.

How do you remove carpet glue?
First of all, the term ‘carpet glue’ is misleading because it actually holds the padding in place – but I digress. There are so many options for removing carpet glue. Use boiling water. Use Acetone. Use Goo Gone. Scrape it with a long handled 4″ razor blade. I asked my Ace Hardware guy, which one is best? His answer, “Depends on your floor, and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you don’t care about the floor itself – then use Acetone and a 4″ razor blade. Your best bet is to try several approaches.”

How do we approach our students in the same way? Depends on the student and what we are trying to accomplish. Some students are going to need that soft approach of water. Some are going to need a more abrasive approach. What we need are the variety of tools (strategies), and more importantly how to use them effectively.

The New Floor
My last job was to find a replacement floor. I knew I never wanted go through this ordeal with carpet again – even though I learned how to handle it. I didn’t want tile, and I didn’t want cement. I found an innovative solution. Vinyl flooring that resembles laminate, but guess what – IT’S WATERPROOF.  Finally, someone saw the need for a new product and spent the time and effort to create it.

How do we encourage our students to FIND the problems like this, and not just solve problems like removing padding, tack strips, and carpet glue. How often do we allow them to search for an innovative solution that solved the real problem like – any carpet in a flooded basement needs to be removed. I’m glad somebody approached the problem differently, because I’ll never be doing this again. My new floor.


About Sean Scanlon

Director of Instructional Technology Marian Catholic High School Google Certified Trainer
This entry was posted in Education, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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