Using Pinterest in my classroom

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: – new pins are added without signing into pinterest! – TOO EASY!


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 – – ->

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:


OR Julie Boyd’s design and technology/textiles boards – – – >

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


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: 



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???

Can YOU buy nothing new??

For everyone that knows me you know that I have this internal dilemma as a designer/artist. . . .

How can we as consumers/designers sustain this cycle of consumption when SO much of what we consume is useless/pointless ?? Yes, we all guilty of over consumption.

The real turning point in my thinking was while I was at Uni studying design, I was 2nd year (which was 2003) and I had this “Hippie” lecturer that WALKED everywhere, she refused to go anywhere that you couldn’t get to using public transport or to even sit in a car!! lol. She traced back the origin of all the products she bought to make sure they were sustainable- this dedication was exhausting!  Since that time I have followed the writing of Clive Hamilton. Especially his books Growth Fetish and Affluenza, they both really struck a chord with me not only as a designer, but as a consumer. It made me reflect on our society, and my personal consumption patterns and even where I worked (My Name is Monique Dalli, and I regrettably used to work for NIKE).

Culture jamming has been a response that I have participated in for a few years- Adbusters are a global culture jamming movement that encourage individuals to participate buy doing simple things: Digital detox  and Buy Nothing Day are ways EVERYONE can break patterns of consumption and reflect on WHAT you buy, and WHERE it comes from, especially poignant around the silly season of Christmas, I especially like this Adbuster image:

So. . . .  I got pretty excited when I saw this- AN AUSSIE JAM!!

Do YOU think you could BUY NOTHING NEW for a whole month? I pledged, but before it begun really needed to double confirm the parameters of the pledge lol

During the first 3 days of October I went on mini-holiday to Hobart, NO ONE got a souvenir or gift upon my return. Sorry to all my family and friends that would normally get a pressie, but this cause is greater than magnets and trinkets that are really just “made in china”. While exploring in Hobart I found some really cool stuff amongst the usual tourist crap at the Salamanca Markets, a lot of the stalls were handmade food and body products, but what really let the markets down was sadly the cliche Australia boomerangs and crappy unauthentic Aboriginal Art that is mass-produced. No, I didn’t buy anything.

This guy was making new little “Robots” from unwanted toys and junk, each Robot had a name and a card- which told you a little about its persona, and were its body parts came from, so very cool and creative! His slogan on the table was “Be creative, re-use, up-cycle”.

What really got me thinking after seeing his creations was- Where do all the unwanted toys usually go??!!?

Do you have children?? Where do all their unwanted toys go??

The rest of the 3 day holiday in Hobart I spent my $$ on experiences, walking round and visiting small galleries and MONA !!! I cant believe I walked through the souvenir shop and BOUGHT NOTHING, not even  KEY RING OR POST CARD!!! Seriously, that is my proudest achievement of the month so far!!

So, thats my first blog update for my month of BUYING NOTHING NEW, not to late to sign up!! can YOU do it??

“For Arts Sake”

FRANS is a support agency for families and carers of children with disabilities. A few months ago I randomly came across their advertisement for an art auction on a social networking site. The difference between this one and any other is that they supply standard size canvases to the community, children and renowned artists and they are displayed and sold BLIND-without signatures and names on the night of the auction, all with the same starting price $65. . . .

I received my 30 x 40cm canvas last month, and this is my journey. . . .

Its title after MUCH deliberation is “In the limelight”, I didn’t put any details about the inspiration on the artwork sheet, I initially thought it should be up to the viewer, but 2 days since posting it, I wish I did!!

So, to whomever buys this, I hope you read this:

My inspiration drew directly from the children and families that that rely on FRANS for support and help, also students that I have encountered that do have mobility difficulties. . . 

The chair is symbolic for their disabilities. Such a simple item, but for some people a wheelchair is their mobility device, a necessity for independence, or a way for someone to sit down and be at their level, or for another person a chair may be their reprieve of pain from standing. The spotlight “limelight” is symbolic to the focus placed on a wheelchair or disability, maybe you see this before you actually meet the individual?.

If you would like to see  and bid on some of the other 400 works being exhibited and auctioned on the 28th September, please go to FRANS “For arts sake exhibition” for more details.