Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Using site Templates for Design Porfolios

I have been using Google Sites with my students as their their design portfolios for a few years now. The first thing we do at the start of a new year is make our sites and go over the Google skills they need like embedding docs and images onto their site, making new pages for each project etc. As the time goes on that we have been working online, the students are needing less and less google "skills" time, as they know what they are doing better than I do.

Where I continue to struggle each year is keeping up with getting the work up onto their sites. We always seem to be doing it at the end of projects, in a mad rush, instead of it being a gradual process over the course of a project.
I was talking about this with my HOD and she was agreeing with me and explaining what she was thinking about for next year, which was making a site template for her students, with areas for each task that they have to complete, so the students know what to put on the site and in what order. I am always keen to steal / borrow / use good ideas so I immediately jumped on this one. This came about at this time as we were discussing the order of work on the student sites needing to show the flow through the project. We were going through Level 1 moderation at the time, so the random order that some students had presented their work was a talking point.

What I have come up with over the last couple of days is this template design.
It includes tabs for all the projects they will do over the year and on each page, there are headings for all the tasks that need to be completed within each project.
Link to the template

There are 2 planner / calendar items on the home page.
The year plan is so they can see an overview of the year at a glance.
The embedded calendar is for another experiment next year. Again, the idea came from my HOD. She puts links to the tasks she wants the students to do that day on the class calendar using a href attribute in the calendar notes.
<a href="">Visit W3Schools</a>
I thought this was a great idea this year, but resisted trying it as we never seem to be where the calendar says we should be in the project. So the plan is to only put lesson task links in the calendar a week in advance. This means that the usual year layout will look out of place in the calendar if it is not matching the lesson notes. This was the reason I have separated the year overview into a snapshot.

I have also included a link to the Level 1 Google Plus community on the front page so they can find it easily and there is a link to the class site. Links to my site / project examples are on each page too. 
All these help links can be removed before the sites are sent away to Wellington in November to be looked at for external assessment.

I considered putting in the blank worksheets / docs in place on the pages but decided not to as the students like to do things in different ways and I don't want them to feel like they have to do it the same way as me.

It is a balance between trying to save them time and being helpful, and doing too much and being controlling. 
Time to wind in my inner control freak....

Monday, September 26, 2016

Time to put my money where my mouth is....

"Keep going"
"Learn from your mistakes"
"Pick yourself up"
These are things we say to students all the time.
This morning I received an email which means I have to put my money where my mouth is in this respect.
I had applied for the Core Education Vince Ham eFellows 2017 scholarship and the email this morning told me that I had not been successful.

The good thing is, the plan that I had put forward in my application is not something extra. I am intending to do the planned work with my Year 12 students anyway next year, so now I have to make sure I put as much effort into it as I would have done if they had accepted me,

The email I received was a generic "you have been unsuccessful" type, so I am not aware of why they think that my plan was not good enough.
I am going to include a copy and paste of my application here, and would be grateful if you have a little time, to give some feedback so I know where I can improve the focus for next year.
I have started the plan already with this year's Year 12 students, and they are helping me to start the planning for the course for next year.

Here is my application :-

Tell us a little about the context in which you work and your experience answer:

     I have taught Technology since 1995 and I moved to New Zealand in
     2004. Since then, I have taught Graphics / DVC at Tamaki
     I have been responsible for the Graphics / Technology department
     getting 3D printers and a laser cutter and I am taking the
     graphics / DVC course in a more product design direction.
     Since the school went fully digital and working on Google, I have
     also been the Google support person for the staff and have
     provided one to one PD and help as well as group sessions for
     them to learn how to use all the Google (GAFE) products.

 What is the area of practice you wish to investigate and develop further through this award? answer:

     I want to improve the achievement of my Level 2 DVC students.
     I wish to investigate the impact of a structured course which the
     students can work through at their own pace. This will be in the
     form of screencasts,forums and recorded skills sessions.
What is the background-answer:

     I investigated this briefly last year with one project at Level
     1. It gave the students a lot of support within the classroom
     setting as well as outside of it in terms of knowing where they
     were up to and what to do next. I was able to spend a lot more of
     my class time helping individual students instead of going over
     things and repeating instructions.
     A link to this investigation is here :-
     This year, my teacher inquiry is based around improving Year 12 /
     Level 2 achievement and I am part of a "change" group at school,
     working with the ministry to effect change with the Year 12
     A link here to my Year 12 group enquiry so far :-
Five minutes of total media time OR no more than 500 words of text-answer:

     I have a group of students in my Level 2 classes who are a very
     mixed ability group.
     Some have done Level 1 with me. Some have not done graphics with
     me at all. A large part of my group miss lessons throughout the
     year due to going on courses in other institutions like MIT. This
     makes following the structured course in DVC very difficult as
     they are all at different places and come in and out at various
     times throughout the year. I want all of my students to have the
     same opportunity to achieve the credits on my Level 2 course,
     regardless of whether they are in the classroom or not. The
     produced investigation will also benefit the students who are in
     the class as they will always know where they are and what to do.
     I also always have students who want to take my course but can't
     because of timetable clashes.
     This gives students the chance to plan their own learning at
     their own pace as thanks to the Manaiakalani Tamaki Learning
     Network, all the students have wireless access at home.
     This will give students access to the course and their learning
     at any time and give family access to know what the course is all
     about. The collaborative space  / discussion forum / google plus
     community will give the students chance to support each other, be
     the teacher and learn valuable skills about commenting and
     working with people online. (cybersmart)
     I will be able to support the students in the classroom in a much
     more personal and one to one manner to help them with their
     individual needs in regards to their project work and the
     students will be able to plan their own time more effectively
     when out of the class.
     As this is based around the "spiral of inquiry", I will be
     getting to know my learners and their individual needs in a much
     more effective way.
     If this proves to be an effective way of setting up a senior NCEA
     course, then this can be used at all levels to support student
     progress through their projects.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Planning Level 2 DVC with Year 12 Students

Today, I continued the conversation with the 2 year 12 boys who have agreed to help with the
planning of next year's Level 2 DVC course.
The first post about this is here.

I had 2 questions for them today :-

1. Should the flow of the course follow the standards, so the work for each standard is completed as a block or should it follow a more natural, design process path?

Their answer for this surprised me in a way. They opted for the work being blocked so that the work for each standard is together. They said that this would make it clearer to see what was needed to achieve each standard.
I understand their reasoning for their decision but does this mean that I have failed to build the design process into my course as the supporting sructure in the past and made the planning too dependent on the standards (teaching to the test?).

2. What product do you think should be the focus?

This year, we did lighting design.
Last year we did glassware and the packaging to go with it.
We discussed the situation that would be the focus of the brief, which is the school cafe that is open to the public on a Wednesday and run by the students.
The boys thought that glassware would be a more suitable product, and possibly extending it to include more cafe tableware, like table numbers, plates etc....
This will give opportunity to produce 2D and 3D design drawings and be able to make models of design work for development.

This continues to be a very interesting experiment with the students helping with the planning. Their viewpoint on things is very eye opening for me. I am trying to give them the questions to discuss together without me for a while so they are not just saying what they think I want to hear.

One of them asked today :-
"so Miss, if this course doesn't work next year, is it our fault?" ....
They are so funny

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Planning a New Level 2 Course with Year 12 students

In a bid to focus in on my NCEA Level 2 course to
improve the results for Year 12 students, I have
decided to assess the course as it is now and make changes for next year.
At the moment, the course is split into 3 parts :-

  1. Researching a design era
  2. Using the design era to design product
  3. Design a sleep out using a shipping container
I have discussed this with some of my Level 2 students this year, and they have said that the sudden change of direction on the 3rd part of the course has been disruptive to them. They had got into their design era work and produced a product design based on that. They then have had to get their head around a totally different subject for the sleep out design.

There is a standard that I have not included in the course so far, which is AS91343, "Use visual communication techniques to compose a presentation of a design". I wondered whether this standard could be introduced instead of the spatial design standard. The students could then present the work that they have done for the design era and the product design project.
When I suggested this to my Year 12 students today, they were very keen on this idea as this would continue the theme but with a slightly different focus on the actual work.
We also looked at a couple of generic technology standards that can run alongside this work so the year overall is starting to look like this.

2017 Planning

Level 2 DVC
Term 1
Brief development with client.
Tech AS91354
Design era research
DVC AS91340
Term 2
Product Design Project using the design era research to influence the design.
Tech AS91356
DVC AS91342
Term 3
Presentation of all work.
DVC AS91343
23 internal
Term 3+4
Orthographic drawing of final lighting design
DVC AS91338
All terms
Design drawings and notes
DVC AS91337
7 external
I am hoping that this will give time to include AS91338 in term time as we have run out of time for this one this year. Being able to understand and produce orthographic drawings is a good design skill to have.

The next thing we discussed today was what design era to offer. I have focussed in on Art Deco as rule. I have tried giving the students free choice. That was a disaster. I have tried offering a small choice of 3. That was not too successful as they kept flipping from one to another and changing their minds!! Maybe getting the suggestions for eras from the students will make a difference. I want them to have a choice as they need to look at this era for an extended period of time over the year so they need to like it.
Here is the results of the discussion today :-

Student 1
Pacific countries / Maori
Industrial revolution

Student 2
Star Wars
Art Nouveau

Decided to focus in on

Pacific / Maori
Industrial revolution / steampunk
Art Deco
Star Wars

I found it an interesting conversation around this decision and showed what the students were interested in.
A particularly interesting point was where the idea for the industrial revolution/steam punk era came from. It is apparently the theme used in a computer game that they play. This lead to a chat about game designers and the fact that they have come through art school training so have a background in design eras etc.
There is still Art Deco in there.... I kind of begged...

The day rounded up with me starting to put together a plan for the year, breaking down everything that needs to be completed against what standard is being covered.
Here is a part of in progress !

The next talk with the boys needs to be about whether the flow of the work needs to follow and fit with the standards and the work needed to complete them or whether it can follow a design process path. As long as everything for the standards is covered, will a more natural workflow be a less disruptive way to work.

 I am really liking getting the students to help with the planning. It is opening up a new way of looking at things.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Having a go at Sketchnoting with Year 7's...

I got my new Year 7 Technology class rotation this morning.
We discussed the project that we are going to do, looked at an example and looked at the laser cutter that they are going to use for the production of their design.
What I normally do with a class then, is go through all the jobs needed to complete the project. This is normally in the form of a flow chart or a spider diagram.
After having a go at sketchnoting myself at a meeting earlier in the year, blog post here, I thought it might be fun to try doing it with a class.
My class this morning had not done it before. I got them to look up what sketchnoting was on the internet and they found lots of great examples. We then went over how fast you have to draw to keep up, so details and spending ages making things look realistic was not an option. Stick men and simple drawings!!
Seeing as this was their first time, I went through it on the board with them. They had leeway to go their own way on how to do it and images to use if they wanted.
I also wasn't bothered about their drawing skills and didn't want them wasting time worrying about this so some of them traced images from their chromebook screens.
We also talked about the direction of the information so it could be read and understood.
Here is my board example.

Here are some of the sketchnotes the students did today ...
It was an interesting exercise with them. Some spent far too long on the title image (with the wings), so ran out of time to finish. Some went their own way with images. Some decided colour is better!!
It was good getting them thinking quickly and visually.