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:
Findings purchased from ETSY
Intricate designs created on illustrator for production
Cutting designs on mass
Mass producing/assesembling items in class
Example of instagram image
Items on the board for SALE!
Earrings for sale!
Rings, sets, keychains and pendants all ready for sale!
Rings, sets, keychains and pendants all ready for sale!
Rings, sets, keychains and pendants all ready for sale!
Poster created by a student to promote the market day.
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.
TERM 1 2012 – – -> WS-iiate Branch meeting
ON thursday arvo 15 keen TAS teachers gathered at Cherrybrook Technology High School to discuss ALL THINGS TAS!
- Demonstration of rotary cutter on mill
- WHS – updated information for TAS teachers
- YICTE- Video conference for IT competition- http://www.youngictexplorers.net.au/cms/
- Laser cutter demonstration
- Roland 3D printer demonstration
Minutes can be found here – – -> WS-iiate term 1 2012 meet
LASER CUTTER VIDEO- – -> on vimeo here!!
What WAS REALLY GREAT was the turn out of teachers from different sectors- we all have same thing in common, a love of our content area and a commitment to our students learning!
IF you wish to attend the NEXT WESTERN SYDNEY meeting, I can be contact via email: email@example.com OR Alesha.Bleakley1@det.nsw.edu.au
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- firstname.lastname@example.org
ORRR!!! if you are from the CENTRAL WEST- contact MATTHEW SCOTT @ The Canobalas Rural Technology High School, Orange- email@example.com
This video was made with the help of high-school teachers and students from years 7-12.
Teachers answered the question “Students best learn . . .”
Students responded by describing “I best learn when. . . ”
The responses were not censored, or adapted, it is each persons individual reply that makes this video genuine.
There is no right or wrong answer.
If you are teacher watching this, I hope it highlights the diverse needs of the students in your classrooms.
No ONE teaching strategy works for all.
VIMEO LINK- – – – -> Learning?
I also presented with Henrietta Miller on Edmodo – the content of the presentation and other proffessional development resources can be found – – – > HERE!
More info on up-coming Teachmeets?
A while ago I posted my thoughts about the lack of BREADTH students apply to a research task. I had set a task- which required research into both historical design practices, designers and design products.
As it was a re-do of a task I ran with the last Design and Technology cohort- from past experience I KNEW students will copy and paste if/when they can. I thought by being CLEVER and designing the assessment to have a POSTER submission, this would deter students from doing this. Ok- it did! Not one student copied and pasted- HOWEVER, only 4 students used a BOOK for research!!??
Todays opinion in the SMH dealt with the idea that students should be TAUGHT how to use internet searches- stating that by doing this students are accessing better quality information because they are discerning and objective readers.
This is a GREAT idea!
However, still feeling slightly bruised after the year 11 task- AND reflecting back on the time spent in the LIBRARY teaching students how to access resources OTHER than the internet made me think- maybe the time spent in the library was a waste of time?
So, my initial question still stands- Is the internet THAT good that when researching assessment tasks students need not open a book?
SO, when marking year 11 Design Tech research task today/yesterday- only 4 students out of 18 used a book for research!!!???
ALL of them had Wikipedia on their reference list, some of course had it as their only reference. This blows my mind, as this is EVEN AFTER spending class time sourcing relevant books in the school library!!???
Is the internet THAT good that when researching assessment tasks students need not open a book?
In the marking criteria, it states “Student effectively uses a range of resources ” How can I select this if the majority are using the internet??!! I initally thought allocating marks for this would push students to research outside the internet. Lesson learnt.
SHOULD students be penalised in research tasks for solely using the internet??
If the information sourced is from quality/credible sites- does this place it on par with books and journals??
The internet makes information SO easily accessible (maybe too easy for a high school student!! hahaha). This assessment was about students BROADENING their knowledge of design using research, I am truly skeptical if internet only research allowed them do this. . . .