– I am so excited to share some of my notes with you from Saturday’s conference, it was a free PROJECT ZERO event at Shore School that I attended, it was much bigger than expected, with 550 registrations, a highlight of the day for me was seeing old friends and having time to have rich conversations with colleagues . . . . I will sum it up briefly by sharing some parts that were a standout for me. . . .
Random thoughts and reflections fill my head most moments of every day, sitting on my couch with my morning coffee on this sleepy Saturday of our school holiday break is no different. The thoughts that are buzzing by are making me smile and deserve a post of their own. . .
A year a ago I traversed the globe to embark on my ISTE adventure, it was a whirlwind 10 day USA trip that at the time was marred by the inefficiency of United Airlines to make a flight arrive or depart on schedule. As time has gone on, the pain inflicted by the travel has passed and these are the memories that I hold close to my heart as having a greater impact on my teaching practice and perspective as an educator:
- Students are the SAME everywhere!
ISTE was full of queues. . . for coffee, food and entry to keynotes – in each and every one I had rich conversations with people who I shared much in common. We teach students! I spoke with LOADS of teachers from all over the world while queuing for stuff- we shared laughs and stories about what we have common, the time then flew in the queues!
I learnt that students are the same in all places, they forget homework and attempt to make the same silly excuses no matter what city they live. We solved problems of the edu-world in these queues, promising each other to abolish the monotony of homework, grades and useless feedback. Students are the same in all countries, we laughed at how they are grubby, annoying and can push every button of ours all at once! We discussed strategies for engaging difficult students, how to spark a passion for words in those that don’t like reading and giggled at stories of that time/s when technology failed during that epic lesson we had prepared.
- Passion is contagious
I was ridiculously TIRED during the three days of ISTE, the heat was brain melting and traveling hard! Each morning I awoke to tweets about the day ahead – speakers, workshops and places to meet with new and old friends to share.
My fave place for catchy-passion at ISTE was the bloggers lounge, it became both a planned and impromptu place for deeper discussion. I spoke further with friends from queues here, eaves dropped on interesting convos and arranged each day of sessions based on the feedback and chatter of others. A fave moment on shared passion was at a TeachMeet that was set up in the downstairs lounge, we tweeted the plans for the place/time, brought friends, made a crowd and shared ideas. I had skipped out on a session to attend, opting to learn from loads peers rather than the research of one. In the 40mins of being there I witnessed this osmosis like effect of passion, it spread through the TeachMeet crowd like a fever, we “oooohed” and “ahhhhhhhed” in unison over new apps, resources and ideas for projects.
- Friendship and fandom has no geographical boundaries
I met international edu-friends for the first time at ISTE, it was wonderful to spend the time face to face talking with like minded edu-nerds; Andy McKiel, Liz Castillo, Lucia Giacomantonio. I had fan moments chatting to Dean Shareski, meeting the Edmodo crew, listening to Andrew Miller talk PBL and watching Jane McGonigal conduct an epic thumb war! Communication mediums like Edmodo, Twitter and Blog stalking makes having an entourage of fans easy for these edu-super stars!
I became bigger fans of my Australian travelling friends; Jess, Lee, Bianca and Ashleigh. I watched them present, share and shine. The opportunity for me to present internationally with Leanne Cameron was unforgettable and humbling.
- Education is not for making money
I am not in this vocation for the purpose of money making and I had never fathomed the opportunity of enterprise that I would witness at ISTE. I understand the need to sponsorship and can appreciate the funds required to make an international conference run, but the point I am trying to make here is not to whinge about the profiteering but a reflection on the SHARING.
Thank you, to the connections that I made at ISTE that shared ideas, resources, twitter handles, hashtags and all the things that cost NOTHING but reward greatly.
In the year since ISTE, the biggest change I see in myself is perspective. I have a greater perspective of my influence and impact as part of a bigger community of passionate educators that share the same motivations as I do.
TODAY I presented at VoicEd 2014 at Davidson High School with loads of other ahhhhmazing and inspirational educators who are positively moving and shaking practice and processes in their schools and classrooms.
My presentation today was all about sharing and reflecting on the use of students as leaders, when I blogged about it last year I had an idea of WHY I wanted the program to run, and HOW It was going to look, but I REALLY underestimated the positive impact these students would have on our 1:1 program.
In todays presentation I explained HOW the Students Techies function so effectively at Gilroy, WHAT they do and WHY:
- Students had to apply to become a class techie using a google form: applicants were chosen at the end of last year based on their ability to solve examples of tech problems like “What steps would you go through to fit a Wifi connection issue”
- All the work they do counts as community service: all the “work” they do contributes to the community service program so they benefit for doing something they love!
- Students assist on Edmodo: year 7/8 have a “tech-support group” that the Techies (and I) monitor, they respond to questions online, between 9 of them they manage the workload of this WONDERFULLY!
- They do not miss out on class time: these students are academic, they want to help but not miss out on class time, so the program does not EVER impact on their learning.
- Visit homerooms twice a week: I found that most technical problems arose overnight when they were trying to do something at home, if students don’t get the help they need on the tech-support page then they have face to face access to the techies of a morning, this is prime time to solve problems before the school day starts!
- Young leadership role: year 8’s get forgotten as young leaders! We then expect them to step up in year 9/10?! Will eventually run well with Duke of Ed, SRC and captain program.
- Empowers clever kids in the playground: this program gives them cred! year 7’s chat to them in the play ground (not just in the library!) and they are known as being Techies.
- THEY LOVE TECHNOLOGY! they like solving problems, making other students as confident as them and helping out!
- I can’t possibly solve every technical issue! even as a singular member of a big technical staff we still teach, our allocation and volume of devices prevents us from being accessible to students all the time. Between Edmodo and homeroom visits, these guys have got it sorted!
The concept of peer coaching is a no-brainer. I know from experience that students helping students peer-peer in a classroom or school context works. It builds confidence, relationships and in a busy classroom it can ease the demand of teacher centred assistance and keep the pace of a lesson moving forward. Some students even PREFER to have peer assistance. Yeah “there are no silly questions”, however, putting a hand up and a spotlight on yourself to ask a question can feel daunting for some – so if it wasn’t for peer support questions sometimes by shy individuals may never get asked!!
The program so far is a HUGE success (because our Techies are brilliant kids of course!), I have taken a few snapshots of our Edmodo group so you can see these guys in action!
The Industrial Technology Timber scope and sequence for year 10 set from last year is crap. Yeah, that’s kind of harsh, but the over testing of repetitive outcomes, lack of diversity in tasks (folio, prac, exam, folio, prac, exam **repeat) and the minimal GAP between assessments has been driving me bonkers all year.
I spent AGES re-creating a year 11 Design and Technology assessment – with the focus of “making it real” – this task was so successful that the idea of issuing year 10 Timber students with a hour long test that replicated the content/outcomes in the half yearly was absurd! With the need for modified tasks to be issued, not all students could even access the test? – – CUE teacher frustration!!
After an awesome chat with our Leader of Pedagogy a few weeks back about HOW I could get the diversity I wanted into a scope and sequence that was already set he said “Who says a TEST OF KNOWLEDGE has to be in the form of an EXAM?” – – – (clever guy our LOP, you should follow him on twitter! @MarkOConnor1976 )
This is what I knew I wanted in a task:
- I wanted to make an assessment that was UN-GOOGLABLE
- An opportunity to apply subject knowledge in a real world contexts
- Allow for self-driven practical experiences
- Test plan reading/numeracy – been a real focus of improvement this term
- Have OPTIONS that would test the same skills/knowledge but allow students to have some CHOICE in the assessment process/format
There are quite a few students in the course that receive modified assessments. Due to the nature of the course and the level of improvement students have demonstrated since year 9, they are gradually doing tasks that resemble a “full” assessment. HOWEVER, if a class test was issued in the format of multiple choice, short response and extended response was to be issued, they would NOT be able to complete it. Whilst writing the task, I kept those students in mind, knowing that many of them would be continuing with the HSC course and building confidence in presenting knowledge is important, more so than “practicing exam techniques”.
I have included the NEW task below, I would love your feedback, thoughts and maybe you could share what you do!
When writing re-writing the scope and sequence for next years year 10 Timber, I will take into the account that SO MUCH THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE is in the year 9 course, but not so much the year 10. Ideally I would like to RE-WRITE the WHOLE STAGE – balancing this out, but until a new cohort start year 9 I think this task is great.
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???
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!!
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.
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:
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 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.
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!!
LAPTOP SLEEVE PATTERN APPROPRIATED FROM:
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)
Students should fail, they should be allowed to make mistakes, comfortable to even.
Why? Because learning by self exploration and trial and error not only builds resilience but enquiry based learning also encourages independent problem solving skills.
I have been thinking about this post for a while, not only because it is a common theme in my classes (mainly due to my KLA area) but also because for some students, the fear of failure is frightening. During the last parent teacher night, I had an extended conversation with a student and parent, our discussion considered “what is the worst thing that could happen if you make a mistake?”
Well? What is is it? . . . . we decided the WORST case scenario is re-doing something, but then pondered, “if it’s a do-over, would the second time be BETTER?” . . . what if in the act of failing and making mistakes they are becoming more discerning and critical of their work, able to distinguish right and wrong on their own!?
First of all, I believe it is essential to have ground work in place so that students feel comfortable enough to make those initial mistakes and secondly but MOST important is the TIME and FRAMEWORK for them to evaluate, share and IMPROVE based on those mistakes. And THEN, if a mistake is made, it is a GOOD ONE!
My year 12 students are at such a crucial time in their Major Design Projects, all through the process it has been a goal of mine to program/cater for time for SELF experimentation. Common questions such as “which plastic is suitable? what glue do I use” ALL get the same answer. . . . EXPERIMENT? TRY? RESEARCH? and decide YOURSELF!! I revel in thinking about HOW MUCH MORE they are learning by just working it out themselves! . . . . but why do I feel more comfortable in doing this with older students??
My year 7 and 8 technology classes run based on projects, in order to complete the projects students follow steps and a series of demonstrations. Reflecting and comparing this to how I run my senior classes, I couldn’t think as to WHY I don’t do the same thing??!! Why do I TELL students all the answers? – – sadly, its due to lack of time, urgh.
So, on friday and today, I gave it a go with my juniors. I let go, and let them make mistakes. . .
And, of course like in my senior classes, they felt comfortable enough to. And even though I normally get excited about the learning that takes place, today what excited me the most is that they were comfortable enough in my classroom to make those mistakes, they shared them with friends (so they didn’t make the same mistake) AND they shared them with me.
Did this impact greatly on time as I originally thought? In “lesson time” it put me behind 1 lesson. BIG WHOOP!! ??
What WAS beneficial is seeing the independent learning, exploration and problem solving in my juniors that I LOVE seeing in my senior classes. We spent time reflecting on each others mistakes in a discussion (and later a blog post), but mainly focused on WHAT WAS LEARNT FROM THEM.
EPIC lessons!! = HAPPY TEACHER!
. . . . I have loved reading about their “mistakes” in their reflective blog posts – I highly recommend this for a reflective blog exercise in your class!
I am exhausted.
Friday afternoon rolled round and I was dragging my legs behind me. . . before 9pm I was flaked out on the lounge. EVEN after a mammoth 13 hour sleep I didn’t yet feel revived?? It’s Sunday morning now, Saturday night was pretty much Friday on repeat (LAME) – BUT I AM JUST SO TIRED!!
Because, this is what I have done in the past two weeks. . .
- Attended the TEACHMEET– at which I did two presentations: “How students best learn” and a 15 minute work shop on Edmodo
- Delivered the 6 hour White Card induction package for construction, AFTER school to 20 year 9- 12 students – this included preparing all the material/marking tests in free periods 😦
- 3 days at YEAR 7 camp! It rained for 17 hours straight on day 2. . . enough said.
- An EXCITING VISIT to NBCS – thanks to Liam Dunphy – I got to see their new TAS building and learning spaces!
- Conquered a bout of cooties = a day off work post camp, something camp related I’m sure!
- Decided that TAS teachers needed a FORUM to be able to communicate on. There wasn’t one, so with NO background experience, I MADE ONE? . . . yes, it was as challenging as it sounds!! BUT NOW THERE ARE 120 MEMBERS 10 DAYS LATER!!
- Organised/held a VET Construction incursion for the concreting unit of work- the class created a concrete path in 6 hours!!
- Had the WS-iiate term 1 branch meeting @Cherrybrook HS
- Ran “Crazy Hair Day For kids” to support the Leukaemia Foundation- in one day we raised just shy of $700!!
– Oh yeah, in between and around all this I went to work from 7:30am each day- planned/taught lessons, marked assessments, proof read folios, wrote TWO year 12 half yearly exams, prepared 2 classes of reports, wrote chapter two of my book, read 120 pages of another two and still managed to find the time to do a spot of internet shopping!!
AND!! I also need to add, that I have been doing the last TWO WEEKS WITHOUT MY COFFEE MACHINE!!! .. .it’s visiting the doctors 😦
WOW! Imagine if I wrote down what I did for each week in the term, not just two?
Imagine if YOU did . . . it may explain why you feel tired too!!
SLIDESHOW OF MY TWO WEEKS IN PICTURES: