“Design Matters” Thread 1: Professional Practice


This thread will be about reflections on “Design Matters” and practices in my classroom. Before looking forward on what I need to change, I wanted to look at my current practices to see what is working, and what needs adjustment.

First, I am teaching my students about design:

[slideshare id=120052&doc=layout-designss4573&w=425]

This has already been shown to sixth graders in advance of their work on their movies

I also give my students constraints, as in this project where they were limited to one picture (they tend to put up a whole album of pictures, wordiness is not yet a problem in general).

[slideshare id=121721&doc=final-slides-perseverance4806&w=425]

I also had them do planning before they could shoot their videos. I gave them a story board template to work with and reviewed what they came up with. Looking back, I did not do enough review of the story board plans.

Going forward. Probably a more deliberative effort in design, and I really need to jettison the PowerPoint templates a lot more. I’ve narrowed them down, and eliminated them in many projects but they need to be gone, especially the bullet points.

One thing I’m already implementing is adding images to the blogs every single week. I was lazy about that at the beginning of the school year. Now, I pick out an image for the week in Flickr, etc. and have one ready to go. I’ve blogged about this in more detail here.

That’s a small thing, what is the big picture? What big ideas will I be teaching. I think there are two things I need to do. One is like sentence lifting. When I have a good example of visual literacy (either in an image I provide or something they design) the class needs to discuss explicitly why it works. They need projects to try this out. Most of my projects lately have been writing, or audio, not visual.

5 Comments to

““Design Matters” Thread 1: Professional Practice”

  1. January 17th, 2008 at 8:43 pm      Reply Nancy Says:

    Kudos for trying! I think teaching design to young kids is hard, it’s been my experience, over the last 25 years, that some kids have “it” but most don’t. I had a student for 3 years who was the most gifted designer I’d ever seen. I’ve had gifted artists before but Michelle was different. I’d assign the simplest task and what she produced was so far superior than what the other kids could do, I was always amazed.

    This fall after Dan Meyers had the Four Slide Contest, I tried it with a few of my 6th graders and it was a dud. They filled their slides with cutesy clipart, ying/yangs and cartoon characters. I’d like to try it again.

    I presented at NECC for 5 years and one of the last presentations I did was on the Library of Congress…each slide was a piece of art! It was so fun to design the presentation as my design ability improved. Keep up the good work.

  2. January 18th, 2008 at 8:41 am      Reply Jason Dyer Says:

    Wow, nice! When you put “the tripod is your friend”, you’re meaning you have a digital camera in class that they can take pictures with?

    There is one slight tweak I would make: on the last slide I would make the two pictures the same size. As it is the “bad” picture looks better than the good picture because of the increased size.

  3. January 18th, 2008 at 11:25 am      Reply alicemercer Says:

    Thanks Jason, I will try to incorporate your suggestions.

    Nancy, I have some that still use cartoon clip art, but they used it better, and over all many of them improved their preso designs, so I’m hopeful. It may not work for ALL students, but it does help many

  4. January 18th, 2008 at 12:11 pm      Reply Nancy Says:

    Another aside–I think my first post also could be considered an “aside”!! I struggle with my idea of design vs. what the “pros” would say and what the kids think. I am a very tidy designer and like order in my webpages, powerpoints etc. It’s hard not to be too judgemental.

    Years ago I had all my students do webpages (on a topic of their choice). All the webpages eneded up looking alike—I do think it’s important to model perfect but hard to keep my design sensibilities in check. Great thing about Dan’s design contests, you can see what is possible. Rambling off…..

  5. January 27th, 2008 at 8:09 pm      Reply Frank's Blog Says:

    The most extraordinary visual representations are those that break traditional “rules” of design. But those rules need to be keenly understood and then broken with passioned purpose and conviction.

    I have a background in photography (used to have my own darkroom and Mamiya RZ67) and in studying art composition. So color organization, layout and such are all very important in creating something powerful.

    You can get great design and composition tips at sites like http://wetcanvas.com

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