Confessions of a fashion addict and Buy Nothing New Month.

 

I have been following the Adbusters anti-consumption activist journey since my early uni-days. Their campaigns and culture jams are witty, productive, creative and informed. I participate in their “Buy Nothing Day” each year – not to have a tokenistic approach to consumption, but to use their campaign and information as a way to read, be an informed consumer and better understand the lifecycle and impact my purchase decisions have on our environment.  I frequently use the Adbusters resources in my Design and Technology classroom, I believe that better consumer choices will be enabled by clever and thoughtful design.

You can read more about Adbusters here: https://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd

 

Two years ago I blogged and participated in the Buy Nothing New month which I am doing again this year. It is an Australian campaign that runs for the month of October: http://www.buynothingnew.com.au/.

 

I am a SELF CONFESSED FASHION ADDICT, I LOVE buying quirky, strange, on-trend clothes. Buy Nothing New month isn’t so much of a challenge as a lot of what I purchase is second hand and re-purposed. My SELF challenge from now on is to not only not buy anything new for October, but look at WHERE my clothes and fashion purchases COME FROM. How they are made? How are they manufactured, processed, dyed? What packaging does it come in? Is it necessary that I purchase it- WHO will its purchase support?

 

. . . a month of reflection that will start a longer journey! YOU can sign up to pledge to BUY NOTHING NEW for a month here: http://www.buynothingnew.com.au/

Using Pinterest in my classroom

http://pinterest.com/

A super bookmarking tool – I use it to collect bookmarks together of videos, links and online resources for units of work – each unit of work has a separate “board” – frequently I share these with students!

There are LOADS of ideas and resources on there already, so it can be as easy as creating your own board, then “re-pinning” other peoples pins from the search bar OR from people you follow.

I use the Pin it to Pinterest tool – this is an add-on to my chrome browser (found here: https://help.pinterest.com/entries/22997343-Add-the-Pin-It-button) – new pins are added without signing into pinterest! – TOO EASY!

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I RSS feed pins from relevant boards to my Edmodo groups – my DT class get pins from my “innovations and clever design” board, whilst my timber class get “project ideas” – – – see instructions on EDMODO RSS feeds here – – ->  https://blog.edmodo.com/2011/06/01/web-2-0-creating-an-edmodo-rss-feed/

The best bit is that no matter what device you are on, you have access to your bookmarks!!

Yvonne Dixon (a UK teacher) was the FIRST person I started to follow – her boards are FULL of info and a great example of how it works for education: http://pinterest.com/ydixy/

 

OR Julie Boyd’s design and technology/textiles boards – – – > http://pinterest.com/textileshotline/boards/

AND. . . Thank you Jeanette James for initially introducing the idea to me!! 🙂

11 sleeps till I’m thirty.

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Yup, I’m counting the sleeps !!

My first “when I grow up moment” was that I wanted to “make stuff” – I was definitely inspired by all the creative types around me. Today whilst moving junk and stuff to get my carpets cleaned at home I stumbled across some old to-do lists, drawings, a maths merit award, photos. . . . and then a little self reflection happened. . .

When I was little . . . I coloured in, drew, painted, played with toilet rolls and made them into light sabres!  I loved LEGO, loved it even more that my brother Nathan had LEGO TECHNICS and that we could make stuff together that MOVED! I used to BEG my brother Adam to do my school title pages for me, he would create these crazy graffiti style cover pages that I would later colour in. I spent quite a bit of weekend time in my Dad’s office – he worked for a kitchen design company and while I was there he would do sketches of interiors and kitchen designs that I would then copy and re-create with ridiculous colour schemes. Family birthdays were an excuse to make a present and a handmade card – I have a large family, so there were LOTS of cards!!  My parents joked that I would later work for Hallmark! hahaha

I spent a lot of time with my family growing up. The women in my life: Nanna, Aunt Maria, Mum and Step Mum – were all crafty seamstresses. I learnt to sew, knit, make fabrics and created outfits for my Ninja Turtle figurines !! Later when I was a little older my Grandfathers – both clever woodworkers taught me how to use workshop machinery and we made “stuff” together, I turned pens, bowls, repaired furniture, made boxes and toys. My Dad’s father was a magician, he had a wicked sense of humor and could make something out of nothing- he was a real life McGyver! I learnt how to read instructions, work from patterns, problem solve and cheat at card games.

I can directly attribute these memories to my manual dexterity, passion for crafting, design and love of sharing creativity and the process of making with others. When I decided to do a design course at uni, there was no question that was what was meant to be. When I enrolled back into uni into my second degree- education that was serendipity! What a happy space I am in right now, how fortunate that I love what I do!

In 11 sleeps I will be 30, I have no idea what my birthday wish will be?

I don’t really “write goals” – but tackle everything that I do with a passion to learn as much as I can! I have just finished writing my first text book, a Dot Point text for HSC Design and Technology, and I am now partway through writing the Preliminary text. This interrupted plans to complete my masters last year, I made a decision rather than write AND do a masters I would instead focus on keeping my standard of work high and not overstretch myself. Some aims I have for my career are to teach at university – specifically working back in design and also with pre-service teachers in education and later, to eventually work in curriculum development. Maybe I will have time to squish my masters in before all that?!

In the 11 sleeps before my birthday and the reminder of the school holidays I am going to spend time reading, I just enrolled into a Silver Jewellery course- so I might draw some ideas, do some writing/research and tackle more of my crocheted blankie 🙂

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My year 11 school photo – Mum went CRAZY that I put a FLURO RED streak in my hair days before school photo – it got brushed back, my nose ring had to be on the OTHER side of the camera also! hahaha

Me now - coloured hair still, not much has changed ;)

Me now, almost 30 – coloured hair still, not much has changed 😉

Follow up . . . making the syllabus REAL!

In my last blog post, I talked about how I set about re-designing a year 11 Design and Technology task to incorporate REAL and CONTEXTUAL links with design and designers in industry. I did this by changing an old task that traditionally would normally be a report to a NEW TASK that required students to DESIGN, MAKE and SELL jewellery items using mass manufacturing methods, THEN compare their outcome (sales, budgets, success, failures) to that of a REAL DESIGNER.

And then . . . . 

Students were asked to design and create a mass-manufactured jewellery range using Adobe Illustrator to design the product, acrylic as the medium, laser cutter to mass produce. Students had slim to no experience in using the program and the laser cutter machine. Also, we dont have a laser cuter on site AND many students in the class are not particularly interested in jewellery as a focus area. As well as the practical aspect they had to research a designer that “inspired their style”.

SO, how did all these challenges make this project POSSIBLE? and SUCCESSFUL?

  • Students were introduced to the task and received it in a positive way, they liked the brief, and even though it restricted the outcome (in the material and production techniques). By using the Pinterest inspiration page as a starting point they could see that this was a current manufacturing technique that could produce items that would be appealing for a market day held at school. THIS and the fact that the task USED TO BE A REPORT, and now they were designing for a REAL audience and were actually going to SELL their designs for MONEY (for charity) THEY WERE HOOKED!!
  • I explained the process of laser cutting to students and how illustrator could be used to create vector files that could be read/cut by the machine. Students used youtube tutorials that were on the Pinterest page AND peer support to self teach themselves illustrator with minimal assistance from me, this independent learning I am most proud of 🙂
  • A flaw of mine earlier in the project was that we were using various schools laser cutters (and they each used different settings on illustrator), this affected the time management of the project as the solution was not easily fixed. We used THREE DIFFERENT schools equipment (and picked MANY teaching staffs brains!!) in different localities of Sydney. Doing this whilst trying not to impact school time was MOST challenging. Students wrote about this in their evaluation section of the task, noting that production trials should be done as early as possible in the design process to avoid issues, SO even though it did feel frantic during the product stage, they still worked hard with me, and learnt a valuable lesson!
  • Most students had never designed for a real audience, so when they had their designs and were planning their BUDGET SALES PROFIT table to calculate COST of producing the item and how much it should be sold for there were some GREAT discussions in the room to the effect of: “OMG, we could potentially make a few hundred dollars EACH” – “I can’t believe items that are so cheap to make in bulk could make so much profit” – at this moment, I could not keep the happy teacher grin off my face!!
  • The market day itself was challenging to organise in the school calendar, not only because of the logistics of getting the pieces cut, but also making sure the days when the items would be sold was advertised effectively – we had NEVER dont this kind of task before, so students AND teachers had no idea what could be potentially be on offer! Our Assistant Principal suggested running the market over 2 days (one day for browsing, the second day students could be prepared with money to purchase) THIS WAS A SUPER IDEA! We also used the TAS instagram account to preview images of the items so students could have a sneak peek!

 

SO, how did all the challenges make this content REAL? and VALID?

  • The audience of CUSTOMERS during the market day giving real-time feed back was invaluable. At first students thought customers were being kind by buying items, but when sales got over $500 they were confident that their designs were actually WORTH PURCHASE! This type of validation for any designer/artist is the feel good moment of good design.
  • Students worked the entire design process LIKE A DESIGNER: researching the target market using a survey, looking at existing products for pricing/inspiration, working collaboratively as a class group to create diverse items AND working out the cost of production in relation to selling price and end profit.
  • Student enjoyed the practical aspect of the task and even though it was time consuming I still covered syllabus content in my program such as: designing for people, anthropometrics, culture as a factor that affects design, mass-manufacture methods vs couture and bespoke design processes, marketing, designers and their work and innovations in production methodologies.
  • Not all students were as successful in sales as each other, but they ALL SOLD ITEMS! This enabled them to still calculate profit and complete the second part of the task effectively. Like I said earlier, students that were not interested in jewellery design were still excited and motivated about the task due to the profit making, some even decided from this task that this was the area that they should major in for their final year!

Photos from the task: 

 

THANK YOU!

A huge thank you to Bossley Park High School for allowing us to use their laser cutter, The Kings School TAS department for sharing ideas and their laser cutter AND Malyn Mawby from Abottsleigh for donating her valuable WEEKEND to help produce the designs, without the after-hours support of these schools/teachers the students in this class would not have seen their successes! 🙂

My take-aways – YES planning and managing this task for all students to have high quality products was TOUGH, it did require extra work hours, BUT students made this worthwhile by their appreciation and success. . . HOW CAN YOU MAKE YOUR SYLLABUS REAL???

I want to make this syllabus content REAL!?

I always talk about how learning should be relevant, contextual and applicable to students lives. I always demonstrate how syllabus outcomes/content should link to real world stuff- so when students say “WHY are we learning this” there is a legitimate answer, OR, even better, the question isn’t asked- the link is THAT evident.

Tell my then, WHY do I have an assessment task scheduled for Preliminary Design and Technology that looks at design practice, designers and comparisons between their work in industry and what we do in school? WHY does the task ask for a written report that compares and contrasts designing and making when students DON’T get to have that experience? . . . oh jeez, I really can’t hand that task out?? . . . . REALLY?? :-/

Enter the NEW task!!

designers and their work

designers and their work2

So, what’s the difference? THIS task will allow students to DESIGN, MAKE, MAYBE FAIL? MAYBE SUCCEED? They will get to HAVE A GO AT BEING A DESIGNER- designing, making- selling. The premise being that they will NOW have some practice to compare their designer to! 

The hard parts in writing this task:

  • when we design and make we usually create a design folio- there is NO TIME for this process, an assumption has been made that the design process is ESSENTIAL and will be followed- therefore an evaluation could be conducted based on success and failures within each stage of the design process. SO this is how P2.1 will be assessed.
  • we DON’T have a laser cutter on site, I have liaised with another school (bribing teachers with coffees and goodwill) to allow me to produce students designs- this could ONLY be done during weeks 3/4 of term.
  • Students SHOULD be able to determine presentation methods determined by their audience. This is an important skill as designers. Yes report writing skills are important too, but that got scrapped so that students could choose presentation method, SO this is how P5.2 will be assessed.
  • They should be able to compare and evaluate the success of their designs to those of a real designers, BUT, WHAT IF THEIR DESIGNS DON’T SELL on market day?? . . . I have created a BUDGET SALES PROFIT table– so that as long as they set out to achieve a profit, they will still succeed. (NOTE: yes 20 marks is a lot for this section, marking criteria includes use of computer graphics and laser cutting technologies)
  • MATERIALS!!??? . . . I purchased all the findings in bulk from ETSY, and acrylic “scraps” from Australian Plastic Fabricators this kept costs down AND we have a variety of colours in the acrylic. All profits will go to support our World Youth Day travellers from Gilroy.
  • NO TIME FOR RESEARCH??!!! . . . I started a PINTREST board for students with bookmarks and links of relevant designers, illustrator tutorials, laser cutter videos/info. This should get them started! (and limit the time spent on this section so they can get to the good stuff quicker)
  • The need to UNDERSTAND design is important. There is still a section that analyses and evaluates a designers work, hopefully this wont be presented in a report format (as it doesn’t need to be) AND hopefully the experiences they gain in the practical side of the project enable this section to be much more rewarding than just reading a bio on the internet.

This task has taken HOURS of planning, research and co-ordination, but, HOW could I say I was making learning contextual and relevant from WITHIN a classroom? By handing out a research report???

Assessment tasks can be evil. This task, to me NOW seems real, with learning and skill development in mind. I hope this task allows students to PLAY the part of a designer, so they can better understand their role, what they do and the technologies and processes they use. This class is such a CREATIVE group, I couldn’t have possibly imagined stifling them with a “report”. I can’t wait to see what they come up with, what they will make and sell, and HOW this will inspire them to form a career pathway in design.

Bulk purchased findings

Reinvigorating the old? Nah, change is WAY better!!

We all have those topics/units that run year to year and dont change. We feel comfortable in teaching them- we are experts in their content. But seriously, after teaching year 8 “satin boxer-shorts” for the hundredth time, the thought of another elastic casing almost made me wanna vomit. AS a staff we discussed ways to adapt and modify the unit . . . but, in the end the WHOLE LOT got a re-write! 

So, the NEW design situation and brief reads:

Design Situation-

You are a designer working for an accessory company and have been asked to design a new range of tech-bags that hold and protect a range of technological devices and hardware.

Design Brief-

Design and produce a laptop bag that employs natural textile materials including plant

and animal fibres in its construction and decoration that could be included in this range.  

IMG_3990

Programming this unit has been an enjoyable collaborative process with staff in the English faculty teaching TAS staff hand felting processes and experienced textiles teachers showing me BETTER ways of finishing the project and sharing resources.

The unit runs under the ANIMAL PRODUCTION context area, and uses TEXTILES TECHNOLOGIES to produce a laptop sleeve. The unit has a digital “TEXT” that will eventually run through itunesU when ipads flow through next year.

I have attached the PROGRAM, BOOKLET, TEXT and ASSESSMENT . . . would love your feedback or any other resources that you think could be added!!

FIBRESMAKEFABRIC_BOOK

FIBRESMAKEFABRIC_PROG_2013

FIBRESMAKEFABRIC_TEXT

FELTING_ASSESSMENT

LAPTOP SLEEVE PATTERN APPROPRIATED FROM:

http://thecottagehome.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/laptop-kindle-i-pad-sleeve-tutorial.html

First world problems- buying jeans, and being short! . . . turning flares into straight leg jeans

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First problem- I bought jeans that were too long, they were $29.95 with an extra 50% off, I couldn’t resist the bargain and set about hemming them this evening. . .

THEN!!! As soon as I cut them to the correct length I wasn’t happy, being a flared leg I had cut them off at the widest point making me look shorter. Not cool.

Solution!!! Makes into a straight cut by slimming down the leg width, here is how I did it:

1. Use another pair of pants as a guide, this saved me so much time! Use a fabric marker to etch a gradual line from the OUTSIDE LEG SEAM ( this is important, because the inner leg seam is normally top stitched for strength)

2. Pin, and then sew a straight stitch at a stitch length of 4( this will enable easy unpicking if needed) – turn inside out and try on. If it is not slim enough, re sew next to existing stitches, no need to unpick unless it is too tight.

3. If it is correct, adjust stitch length to 2, and sew alongside the inside of existing stitches- this will reinforce the new seam.

4. Trim back excess and trace onto other leg, repeat!

5. Sew edges with a blanket type stitch or overlock to prevent fraying.

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Showing off my students’ Design & Technology Major Design Projects !!

In the HSC course of Design & Technology students embark on a 9 month journey that starts with them sourcing a DESIGN NEED, and is completed with them creating their OWN DESIGNED SOLUTION. This Major Design Project (MDP) is weighted as 60% of their HSC assessment marks (exclusive of their school assessment marks).

The MDP challenges their creativity, applied subject knowledge and also their time management skills. This year, with a small class of 11 students, it was NOT any easier to facilitate this process. The biggest challenge FOR ME was being the CONSTANT source of motivation and direction for these students. However, I loved EVERY minute of it, the BEST moment was celebrating the completion of the MDP and their personal success with some cake 🙂

Students in my year 12 D&T class worked to create:

  • A RC (remote controlled) scaled fighter plane
  • A WIND turbine for residential use
  • Bed linen set that incorporated custom printed fabric from the students OWN sketches
  • Electronic music production tutorial website
  • A moving wall system for small apartment living
  • Graphics for a wake-skate board
  • Storage system that hangs from the ceiling
  • Silver jewellery – rings and bracelet
  • Baseball field incorporating green energy and universal design principles
  • Kitchen “step aid” built within a kickboard
  • Velcro bootie and stomp pad for surfers to enable aerial manoeuvres

3 students from this year’s cohort have been entered into the University of Wollongong Design and Technology Competition, but all of these projects are personal successes in their own right, which is why they deserve this blog post to CELEBRATE ALL THEIR HARD WORK!!

SLIDESHOW OF PROGRESS PICS and COMPLETED WORKS: (only SOME of the HUNDREDS of pics I took)

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. . .Cars, cannons, CNC routers, planes AND technology!! Yup, it’s what we do in TAS!

WSIIATE – Term 4 Christmas Meeting

WHAT A SUPER AFTERNOON!! cars, cannons, solar power, CNC routers, laser cutters, vector works software, Creo, flight projects, tea trays and ALL THINGS TECHNOLOGY!!

The IIATE (Insitute of Industrial Arts Technology Educators) is a professional membership that TAS teachers SHOULD be a part of. Not only does the council organise key events for members, but the membership community itself is an important PLN for TAS teachers.

In western sydney, each term, teachers meet, eat, discuss and share ideas resources, problems- and solve them together. I am really very lucky to be involved in such a supportive PLN-  staff that attend are from different schools, but have a common goal of technology education and student learning.

Todays meet was a very successful one! If your reading this- a HUGE thank you to the gracious hosts- Peter Taylor and TAS staff at The Kings School. Superb afternoon!!

I have attached the invite and images from the meeting in the hope to encourage MORE people to join us next year. Looking at the agenda and images, you cant help but be blown away by the challenging nature of the projects, diversity of context areas, skills learnt AND the technology that is utilised. Some amazing equipment at this school that is used effectively- very, very jealous!!

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FOR information regarding IIATE membership- contact via: http://www.iiate.asn.au/

IF you live in the SOUTH COAST AREA, then there is a meeting down there! contact: STEVE DELANEY @ Warrawong High School-  steven.delaney1@det.nsw.edu.au

 

ORRR!!! if you are from the CENTRAL WEST- contact MATTHEW SCOTT @ The Canobalas Rural Technology High School, Orange- matthew.scott7@det.nsw.edu.au

Can we TEACH creativity?

Do YOU understand WHY you are better at some skills than others?? Do you think that ANY skill  can be taught ?

. . . .Ok every year Design and Technology students at this time start coming up with ideas and concepts for their “MDP” (Major Design Project). They have from NOW until next AUGUST to create “something” – in pretty much ANY area of design. Huge scope isn’t it!

Presently, in class all sorts of ideas are floating round, most at this stage are a work in progress. The obvious common thread is that they are aspiring to create something that is CREATIVE and PURPOSEFUL!!?? URGH! how do we as teachers make sure that each of the 17 odd students in the class achieve this in their MDP’s??!!

Class activities have been centered around inspiration and idea generation. One of the stand out activities from this past week was the LEFT v’s RIGHT brain test. . . .

In my mundane “PSYCHOLOGY 101” unit at uni- we went through some pretty DRY material about WHAT activates differing parts of the brain and its opposing hemispheres. I brought this concept to class and linked it to design areas/fields of design and skills that people of each favorable hemisphere may demonstrate.

Before we did the test, I obviously discussed its place and validity- AND YES! the old wives tales of left handed-ness was discussed, and students understood that you do actually use both hemispheres,  HOWEVER the results were astonishing!!

According to research: 

RIGHT- BRAINERS are:

  • Intuitive
  • Holistic
  • Visual thinkers
  • Exploratory learners
LEFT- BRAINERS are:
  • Analytical
  • Rational
  • Aural thinkers
  • Linear learners
After completing a series of 40 questions, each student was asked to “guess” their result- most people were correct in their assumption and it was even MORE surprising to note that I could actually predict and understand students favorable hemispheres as demonstrated by their design work and personality.
YEAH, OK WHAT WAS THE POINT?
So, it brings me back to the opening question (you can see my right brain thinking at work there! got there in the end, but in a round a bout way!! hahahaha)
. . . .Do YOU understand WHY you are better at some skills than others?? Do you think that we can be taught ANY skill?
I believe YES, we can be TAUGHT skill sets and thought processes, and we can be taught to THINK CREATIVELY. For example; the design process that students apply to projects is sequential, this scaffold can be applied to differing design problems so that solutions can be made/discovered. PERFECT! The only variable in the outcome is the path they take to get to their solution. . .
I find that students who are more RIGHT brained, they tend not to follow the design process- but to reverse engineer concepts. After having a FLASH of inspiration much work is needed to build a background story and research components of the MDP to validate their idea.
LEFT brainers on the other hand, are much more objective and analytical in their approach, tending to spend MORE time on the research and planning phases than right-brainers. Their designs are largely built around the facts and points raised by analysing existing products on the market.
WHERE TO FROM HERE??
Students had a firmer validation of where their strengths/skills lie- these were mapped to design areas. And in a quirky way it re-enforced which areas they are better at and need improvement in, (ie: right brainers need a deeper focus and possibly more help in areas of time management).
But mostly, this exercise was for MY benefit. I now KNOW the learners in my room a little more, I can understand their thought patterns and possibly guide them using their most favorable thought processes.
I have spent some time today looking at HOW favorable hemispheres affect HOW PEOPLE LEARN, and the next step for me to better prepare these students for the MDP is customising class material to coincide/nurture with how they think.
I found some easy to read/follow info on which is what I’m starting with:
. . . and of course there is TED video. Not related to right/left thinking, but how creativity can be nurtured in schools and how creativity should be valued.
Are YOU left, or right??