Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Design Talking with Intermediates

Today with my Intermediate Technology class, I decided to approach the start of the designing process in a different way.
We are going to design toys and games that make you think and the first activity that we did was to look at existing products to see what you could buy at the moment. Example blog post here showing what we did. ( I am putting everything we do in the Y9 and Intermediate classes on tis sample blog so they can refer to it to keep them on track and to catch up if they need to - blog post here )

I put them into pairs today and we put a list on the board of games that they play on paper
hangman, noughts and crosses, connect the dots, pictionary and battleships.
Each team had to choose a couple of them and spend some time playing them together.
There was lots of giggling, checking for things online and shouts of "i won"!
I then asked them to have a discussion with each other and come up with ways to make the games they have just played 3D. The ideas had to be able to be played with physical pieces that you move around and not drawn on paper. they could make notes and draw as they talked.

I loved walking round and listening to them. They were so focussed with the task they were asked to do. As a graphics teacher, I LOVED the ideas being drawn, talked about, scribbled out, changed, argued over. laughed about ... They were not bothered about being fussy over their paper work, it was all about the idea and working it out. This is EXACTLY what designing is supposed to be about. Where do they start to get so fussy that every sheet of work has to be perfect? My seniors drive me crazy over this, to the point where I have to physically restrain them from tearing pages from their sketchbooks! How can I encourage my seniors to be more like these teams this morning? Totally focussed on the ideas and not overthinking everything and stressing. We can clean up drawing styles and skills later.

We then sat together round the front table and shared ideas.
I wrote these ideas up on the board and asked questions to get them to think further.

It was a very productive session doing design work as teams. 

Questions for me ....

How can I build more team work into the design process
How can I get my senior students to work like these teams today? 

If you have any ideas while reading this I would really welcome some feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Materials Research - Discussion rather than written

My Year 13 inquiry group are at the point in their design development work where they are writing the analysis notes with their design work.
I put a support document together for them and shared it on the class Google Plus Community so they could make a start on these notes and we did an exercise all together where we looked at an existing stage set design and analysed it together.
We then ned to start thinking about what materials would be the best to use for the designs they have produced. This is normally quite a dry activity of finding information about various materials, writing out tables and comparing them.
I decided we could incorporate our talking practice into it this time. I collected some information about a variety of likely materials and put it onto a presentation.

The students then got themselves into pairs and chose one material each from the presentation. They then had to tell the other person why they had chosen that material based on it's fitness for purpose and sustainability. They then had to tell their partner why their chosen material was not a good idea so it involved them listening to each other.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Making Hows To's to Learn

My Year 9 students are learning to use Tinkercad in order to 3D model their product design so we can 3D print them at the end of the project.
There are some key things they need to get the hang of in order to make more complex shapes in Tinkercad and one of those is using the workplanes.
They could use the lessons built in to Tinkercad and they could listen to me show them in the class, but I know they will have forgotten what I have said as soon as they move away from me.
With this in mind, I started a DVC "how to" site, and made a start putting some Tinkercad screen casts on it. Link here . Then I thought that the students could make their own how to's that they could refer to when they get stuck with their product design. This would embed the skills more firmly into their heads as they were breaking it down themselves rather than relying on mine.

Today we made our first one. I went through it with them to show them how to do each step, take a screen shot, put it onto a presentation and write an explanation.
Here is my example that I did with them.

I shared this with them so they could refer to it and had the inevitable question - "can we just copy and paste yours miss??" ... So I explained to them that the whole point is for them to make the how to as it will make the skills stick in their heads!

Here are links to some of the student work on their blogs.


My sample blog post for them to refer to

Our next skill will be combining shapes to create more complex ones.
Hopefully doing their own skills rewindables will enable them to create their product design with more confidence.
We shall see.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Causal Chain

In our last CoL meeting, we talked about causal chain of events.
What do we need to happen in our student outcomes? What do we need to change in our practice in order for that to happen? What chain of events needs to be put in place for things to happen in the right order?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

ASD in the Classroom PD Session 2

Catch up notes from session 1

Medical V Social
Challenges V Barriers
What is needed is more of a help focus.

Transition and change
Students don't cope well with changing, unpredictable circumstances.
How can I build structure and routine in the classroom?
The more information from feeder schools the better and as quickly as possible so plans can be put in place.

Students are generally visual learners - can instructions be written and visual for them to refer to after the teacher has finished speaking?

Students not engaging or making eye contact does not mean the are not getting anything from he lesson. Communication looks different for every student with ASD.

Sequential instructions. Use first ....then to give them a flow to follow. Try to let them access communication in other ways.

Interaction with peers is a struggle and they end up being ostracised and thought of as strange in the class.

They have problems with executive functioning - planning and details etc.
They have problems with fine motor skills.
Slow processing skills.

Can the students interests be incorporated into the work rather than shutting them down? Focus on the student's strengths.

The student cognitive abilities are all very different.
Give them limited choices.
Students struggle to start or stop activities so try really hard not to interrupt them while they are working.
Don't give them any activities that require multi tasking.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Voice projection for presentation

My Year 13 class recently presented their work to their client. (blog post here) It was their first time presenting work to someone other than the class and they were nervous. We had done some preparation on the previous day but their nervousness came through is very quiet voices.

I have spoken to the Head of Music at Tamaki College about voice projection and we are planning on getting together with the students to work on something together.
Before this though, I thought I would do some research reading and watching -
How to Project Your Voice
How to project your voice

Increase your awareness of your breath support from the diaphragm with this simple exercise:
  1. Lie down, face up with knees slightly bent.
  2. Place your hands on your stomach.
  3. Concentrate on breathing from your diaphragm, feeling the stomach rise and fall.
  4. Repeat 1-3 with a book on your belly.
  5. Stand up and repeat 1-3.
Virtual Speech Coach

This research made me think about the activity that Nicola had set up for staff last Friday in her series of Friday fun sessions for staff.  We were concentrating on breathing from our the diaphragm as well as other things.

At the beginning of the lesson on Wednesday this week, we all lay on the floor and concentrated on breathing with the diaphragm, with hands on stomach and chest to check.
Lots of giggling ensued and it took quite a while to settle down and focus on the breathing. I thought this wasn't going to work but decided to give them time to get the giggles out of the way and we got there eventually.
We did this to get them to realise where their diaphragm is when they are breathing so they can relate to this later.

We then stood up and stood in Superman pose. This is from some whole staff PD we did a few years ago where this stance was suggested as good for giving confidence before doing something in front of people.

We then ...

  • Standing in a circle working together
  • Talking quietly and building the volume slowly
  • Making a noise and pulling in your diaphragm as you get louder
  • Ordering a macdonalds out of the window to an invisible person in the carpark
  • Working in pairs in the carpark, slowly getting further away from each other.

These activities were a lot of fun and there was a HUGE amount of giggling going on. (not just the students, me too) This was the first time we had tried something like this so it was hard to gauge what the students thought about it at the time due to giggling, embarrassment and general messing about but it must have been OK as they asked for more on Friday! They did say at the end of the session that they had fun.

I didn't video them during this session as I thought they would be embarrassed enough without me getting a camera out.
I did take a photo in the carpark though of them all in Superman pose.

I am looking forward to working with the Head of Music about this too.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Classroom Talk Focus

I wanted to see what was going on in my classroom with my inquiry group in terms of the balance of the talking during a lesson.
I was very lucky this week as Nicola Wells, our across schools CoL teacher, came into my class to take note of things as they went along.

Nicola came up with a chart to use in the class where types of talk could be ticked off as they happened. I asked that off-task talk from the students and teacher be added on.


Minutes of lesson



Q&A closed Q

Q&A open Q

Student-led Q



Behaviour talk

Off task talk - Students

Off task talk - Teacher

ED (extended discussions)

P2P (peer to peer)

Nicola did not find this easy to use as the lesson progressed so she wrote down what happened when.

I then read all of her notes and tallied the instances of talking.
While doing the notes and tallies, Nicola noticed that there was a type of talk we had not included, so it was quickly added onto the bottom. This type of talk was "self talk".

Extra notes from Nicola while she was observing :-
  • Approaching one of the students silently led him to speak first. This happened twice.
  • Conferencing open ended questions V ideas and options that are close ended.
  • Self talk / narration happens often, split between thinking out loud and commenting on own , abilities / efficacy
  • One student concentrated the entire time
  • Off-task teacher talk not often but built relationships / humour / possibly modelled the self talk they do.

What I found interesting from the results :-
  • There is a lot of ticks in "conferencing" - this is when I am talking one to one with the students about their work. I thought I did a lot of this and it is nice to have it confirmed by someone else
  • I didn't realise there was so much self talk going on, from both the students and me. I need to key onto some of this and make sure the self talk is positive.
  • A lot of the off-task talk involved me - no surprises there for me.
  • Nice to see they are talking to each other quite a bit about their work and they are helping and encouraging each other.
  • I need to open up my questioning style much more to encourage more open thinking.