Sketching – Paper 53

January 19, 2014

This week I have been trying out some sketching apps to see if I could find one almost as easy as just using paper and pencil. I tried out Autodesk Sketchbook Express, which I found quite fiddly to use, and Paper 53 which I am going to talk more about here.

Paper 53 is a very simple to use app. It has been designed to be a close to a paper experience as possible. Before you ask ‘why not just stick with paper and pencil’, I wanted to find some alternatives for those pupils who want to produce their controlled assessment completely electronically. Currently we have to scan in all the pupil’s designs, which is surprising time consuming.

Paper 53’s interface is very clean and simple, although you can have as many notebooks as you want.

Each notebook has several easy to rearrange pages. I also liked the fact that you can zoom in on the page to put more details in.

I felt that the best way to show how easy it was to use was to make a video. So here is a quick demonstration of Paper 53.

I’m going to keep sketching designs on Paper 53. If you are interested in seeing the designs I come up with then you can follow my tumblr.


Edmodo UK Group

September 28, 2013

Firstly apologies for a very short post. I have been horribly ill this week with a delightful head cold that has decided to take my voice. It is not fun trying to teach when you can barely speak – fortunately my pupils have been lovely about it.

This week on Edmodo Mr Ashton started up a UK Edmodo group as somewhere UK teachers can discuss ideas (mainly because a lot of the ideas being discussed on Edmodo are very American and tend to revolve around the 'common core' which we don't use).

So if you are on Edmodo and would like to join the group then the group code is t2mesx.

I have also set up a training group called (appropriately) 'Test Zone'. Not only do you get a badge for joining an Edmodo training group (although not if you're the one running it) but I thought it would be a good place to try out some of the features of Edmodo before unleashing them on pupils. If you would be interested in joining then please tweet me.

So now I will go and take more Lemsip and crawl back into bed…….


A Day of Fun CPD (part 2)

July 27, 2013

Last week I started telling you about my day of CPD courtesy of Teach Design. This week I am going to tell you about the last 2 sessions of the day.

The James Dyson Foundation has a resource box that it loans out to schools. I had read about it on their website, but wasn’t sure how I could use it in my lessons. So I was very pleased that we got to experience part of the box during the CPD day. All of us got to disassemble a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner head, and Steve our session leader showed us the sorts of things he would do with pupils while this was going on. It was fascinating seeing all the different types of plastics used in the product.

Here you can see my vacuum cleaner head disassembled. But it was really easy to put it back together again!

After having seen how this tool could be used in the classroom, I am definitely going to be booking one for my school.

The last session of the day was all about circular economy. This was not something I knew much about, and even though I have a slightly better understanding now I am going to have to learn a lot more about it. You can read all about it on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website. But in a nutshell it is all about the importance of designing products and systems in which all the materials can be reused at the end of the products life, thereby creating a closed loop of material usage. The key impact on my teaching that this will have is to get my pupils to design products that can be easily disassembled (one way of doing this is to ban glue – a scary prospect!).

Something you can do with pupils is get them to disassemble broken products to see if they have been designed with a circular economy in mind. So this is what we got to do!

We paired up and collected a product, I got a DAB radio. We then had to see how far we could disassemble it (we were provided with a range of tools).

My partner and I originally thought that this would be quite easy to take apart, but we were quickly proved wrong! After trying to cut away the leather exterior we found a solid MDF structure that could not be opened. We tried accessing the inside through the speakers, but once again were foiled by soild MDF. Only by fluke did we discover that the back panel could be removed (but it was very difficult)

By now all the other teams had finished disassembling their products, however we refused to be beaten and proceeded to unscrew the unit (you can see we finally got inside in the last picture above!).

It was lots of fun, and something I am eager to try with my GCSE pupils. I need to go and hunt out some broken products!

It was an amazing day and has made me think a lot about what I am teaching my pupils. I am hoping to introduce lots of the concepts from the day into my GCSE curriculum.

A Day of Fun CPD

July 20, 2013

Last week I went to an amazing day of CPD (continued professional development) that was organised by Teach Design. They had organised lots of different sessions with various companies, and I wanted to share with you the things I experienced.

The day started off with an introduction into the future of Design & Technology from David Barlex (@DavidBarlex) (you can read his blog here). He introduced lots of interesting ideas, especially relating to the enduring ideas of Design & Technology. One of his questions ‘what is better? A good design, badly made or a bad design made really well?’ made me think. I know I will need to audit my projects for next year, based on his ideas.

We then got to build Robots! VEX Robotics works a little like the Mechano I used as a child, but it has the additional use of motor and Systems & Control so you can make it move using a controller. I am not a Systems & Control teacher, I don’t really understand how it works but I did find it fun and interesting to put the robot together.

You can see here the various stages of building our Claw Robot. Annoyingly, when we had finally finished we couldn’t get it to work. So we had to be rescued by some Systems & Control teachers. It turned out that our wireless controller was not talking to our robot, so we had to go ‘old school’ and control it with a cable!

Next up was the session that made me want to come to this day. It was all about drawing in isometric (something pupils usually find very challenging). The Drawing Tool Company had come to show us a new drawing aid called an IsoSketch.

The IsoSketch is a very simple template that helps you to draw boxes and circles at the correct angle for isometric drawing. After playing around with it for a while, we were set a challenge to design a tent for a specific user (we had a choice of 3, I chose the ‘train spotter’). The best design would win a class set of IsoSketches (so competition was fierce!). This was my design, drawn entirely with an IsoSketch:

(and no, I didn’t win)

I will definitely be ordering some IsoSketches for my pupils to use!

As this blog post is in danger of becoming extremely long, I will post about the last 2 sessions next week (they involve careful disassembly and some wanton destruction!)

Thank you Twitter

July 13, 2013

Today I am off on a free CPD (continued professional development) course that I found out about through Twitter.

It is being run by Teach Design and it is all about the future of my subject (with lots of fun workshops throughout the day). I will blog about this later!

I have talked about Twitter before but this is the first time I have something tangible from it. Of course what you get out of Twitter entirely depends on who you follow. I knew that I wanted to find out education resources and so I set about to look for Teachers on Twitter.

It has taken a while to build up my PLN (personal learning network), and I have only just started to find other Design & Technology teachers, but it is worth it.

So hopefully, if your not already on Twitter, you might take a look and see what it is like.

But for now I am off to the Design Museum to meet other teachers who are giving up their Saturday for something they found out about on Twitter as well (exciting!).

Facebook Groups and Other Updates!

May 18, 2013

I have been trying out a lot of new things this year, and as you try things out you learn what works and what doesn’t. I thought it would be useful to revisit one of things I trialled last term, especially as it didn’t work very well!

You may remember me posting about setting up a Facebook page for my Yr11s to give information regarding revision etc. I quickly discovered that a ‘page’ didn’t really work, because the pupils hadn’t ‘liked’ the page they didn’t get the notifications. So I decided to look at Facebook’s options again.

I decided to consult an expert (namely a year 10 pupil) who has set up several pages and groups on Facebook. After a chat about various options, it seemed that creating a group would work better.

So at the start of the controlled assessment with my Year 10s, I decided to set up a group on Facebook as a triall to compare it to the ‘page’ I had tried before.

I looked carefully at the setting and privacy options in the group settings:

I set it so that any group member could invite people to the group, but I had to approve all of them. Also only I could post messages to the group, but pupils could comments on postings (I can delete what they post if necessary).

On my teacher Facebook account I have no friends. This proved problematic, as you can only invite friends to groups. So I turned again to my ‘expert’ and he agreed to friend me so that I could add him to the group.

Once he was in the group I could ‘unfriend’ him, but he could now invite other members of the class who were his friends to the group. Within 12 hours all of the class had been invited to the group (I was impressed by how quickly it spread through the pupils).

It has been very interesting seeing how the pupils interact with the group, in the picture above one of the boys is reminding another of the required work for the upcoming deadline. It later transpired that he was replying to a message this boy had sent him earlier, specifically asking what work needed to be done!

Another interesting feature is that I could set up deadlines as events and see which of them had read the post.

We’ve been trialling this for a few weeks. So far it is much better than a ‘page’, but I am still waiting to see how this fares long term.

Another update, I posted a while ago about the end of controlled assessment and I promised to show you some of the finished products. Well the products are now on display, and my amazing technician has been making custom built plinths to show the work off.

So here are some of the products, rotating spice rack, Mondrian themed bedside unit, Rackets press, MP3 Speaker, Saxaphone stand, CD rack and another storage unit (this time Art Deco themed).

%d bloggers like this: