This short unit represents an attempt to teach students more graphic design skills in a shorter period of time. It is a rework of a much longer unit, which originally involved more independent learning. Although my approach is generally more student-centered, in this case I want to build these skills quickly and move on to other areas. As such, this unit relies more on direct instruction, combined with hands on time and class discussion.
Although the unit focuses on Acorn (Mac software which is very generously made available to schools free of charge), you could quite easily substitute in almost any other graphics tool on any other platform. I use Acorn because it is easy to master, helps students learn to make great graphics, and is affordable to almost anyone (unlike Photoshop). I used to teach with The Gimp, which is excellent and completely free, but does not integrate so well on a Mac.
One of the main aims of the unit is for students to design their own wallpaper, which they can use on their computer. The wallpaper is a remix, but students do enough creative work to really make it there own. Hopefully students will quickly get the idea that they can create coll graphics within investing too many hours in master arcane software. Hopefully, when students are done, they will have created something like this (get the downloadable 1680 x 1050px PNG version):
Credits: thanks to these wonderful people for sharing their materials for the world to use. Moose by farlane on Flickr under CC BY-NC. Brick Wall by Coyau on Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA. Stripes by linuslundahl on DeviantArt under CC BY-SA.