Tag Archives: design

Exemplar Me vs Me

In consider the topic of digital citizenship, and refecting on their own identity and participation in online platforms, I ask my students to create a piece of design work called Me vs. Me. Most students follow my lead and use raster editing software (such as Acorn) to combine photos and digital avatars of themselves. Recently, however, we have had a Year 13 student leading an Digital Art activity (with accompanying Free Learning unit), and so we now have a growing number of students who are learning to use digital drawing tablets.

I was really excited to see a couple of girls in one of my classes taking the initiative with their Me vs Me, and apply their newly learned skills to express themselves through digital drawing. What I was not expecting was work of such high artistic value, nor work that was quite so insightful as that submitted by Della (click for full size):

In reflecting on her work, Della said “The online side is more about when you are online you are kind of care free and can express you self and what you like and also you could post or say things that make people think of you in a different way then you actually are. The home me is more about the reality of life and how its stressful and how you have things to do but then just end up procrastinating and then getting more stressed”.

Such deep thinking is not commonly expressed through student work (although I don’t doubt it goes on regularly) and sits perfectly with the art work. In following up, I commented: “Della, well done on an excellent piece of work here. You have taken the elements discussed in class, and seen in the exemplar work, and presented them in a style of your own, showing creativity and technical skill. Digital drawing is tough, and you seem to be making some real progress. In terms of the ideas of identity and participation that we have discussed in class, I love the honest look into the real you, and how it compares to the much more polished online you. Why are people unwilling to sometimes show the real “them” online? I do also like the privacy-protecting use of your name as “Dekka” in the online you. clever! I am going to take the “losing my mind” bit with a pinch of salt. However, if you do feel you are struggling with something, then it is best to talk to a trusted adult, as seeking guidance makes almost all problems better. This is definitely the best work I have ever seen from you. Well done : )”.

On further reflection, and given Della’s input on procrastination and stress, I will recommend her to look at a Free Learning unit called Digital Organisation, and a second one (when it is published) on Focus.

As a teacher it is not every lesson that students really open up to us, but carefully designed work, which engages student interest, can definitely help. What is really pleasing here, from an ICT teacher point of view, is that whilst teenagers are often portrayed as helpless, hapless victims of circumstance, Della has shown that she has a strong grasp on some of the existential difficulties of being an adolescent in 2017. This is a great point from which to make good decisions and change one’s situation.

Our School As A Box

Our School As A Box ThumbThis year staff at ICHK Secondary started the school year with a great PD session lead by one of our new team members, Phil Morgan. A deep thinker around creativity and education, Phil brought us up to speed on some ideas around creative thinking, and then challenged us to decorate a box that could be used to sell our school. Divided into groups, every member of staff became obsessively engaged in the task, with the allocated hour’s working time disappearing in no time.

The 6 resulting items were a wonder to behold, and incorporated a huge range of bizarre styles, ideas, tricks and features, including one with a mobile phone installed inside, so you could capture your image and become part of the product.

In the end, we were asked to vote for our favourite, a process that everyone was so invested in that we elected to skip our coffee break. Much to my surprise, my lovely group (including Veronica, Jimmy, Erin and Hannah), ended up winning, with the design below.


The box is now in a display case in school, accompanied by the text below:

ICHK. Our box is, like our school, brightly presented, precisely formed with attention to detail, and the result of a collaborative team effort. It’s bright colours, bold lettering and green adornment reflect an intentionally small school with unique aims, nestled in Hong Kong’s verdant North.
As a small, personal school, we look to educate students as individuals: one at a time. Our box seeks to represent this individual learning journey as a ladder, which a student is climbing, supported from below by each and every member of the teaching team. The student, stating “I can’t do it…yet” is aware that learning is tough, but that with perseverance, effort, support and a growth mindset, he too can “make it”.
The “it” to which the student aims is the goal of Learning Together, Thoughtfully, to which our Head of School cheerfully exhorts us from his cutout in the side of the box. He is within the box, at its heart, but also looking outwards as he charts the way forward. Yet, and this is key, he is also on the front of the box, guiding the thriving student as part of the team.
On the side and back of the box we see a list of Ingredients and a Nutrition Guide. These show a school formed of Thriving Students, Best Possible Teachers, an Environment For Living and Learning and much more. They suggest a serving size of 1 (child at a time), with a total number of servings of 278 (students in the school). The sum total of the box offers nutrition in the form of appropriate quantities of Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge, and a 100% RDI of Direction-Alignment-Commitment.
Ultimately, box and school are both so much more than the sum of their parts.

In closing up the session, Phil introduced us to a number of interesting books around creativity, including the one from which the box activity is drawn: Game Storming. Overall this was one of the best PD and team building sessions I have ever attended.

Epic Wallpapers 2

This is a second collection of wonderful Epic Wallpapers produced by my year 7 students. The design were chosen for the strength of their designs, attention to detail, Creative Commons licensing and overall appeal. Well done to the students for creating such lovely work. Feel free to download the designs, which are all at 1680 x1050 pixels, and should fill most screens.

Epic Wallpers

In Year 7, my students undertake a short unit of work called Epic Wallpaper, in which they attempt to make a glossy wallpaper using Acorn and some graphic design techniques. This is the first year I have run this unit, and it went very well, with the students really enjoying the creativity of image editing. The 9 best designs are shown below. All are under Creative Commons licenses, so feel to download and use them as your wallpaper.

Download all 9 wallpapers (ZIP)

All images are 1680 x 1050px and so should work on most commons screen sizes. Well done to Alex, Alvin, Emi, Jamie, Lily, Nicolle, Ruby, Sammi and Serena for their fantastic design work.

The Importance Of Design

Often I feel that I teach students all sorts of tricks and techniques to make their work look better, but that they fail to apply them to their work. Some of this is inexperience, but sometimes I think students just believe that it does not make a real different.  To try and convince students that this stuff really does make a difference, I asked a class to come up with a fictitious company name (‘Bannnana’) and industry (‘fixing ears’). I then wrote these in Acorn, projected on the white board. With all the students watching I went through a 3 minute example of how to use font controls (font face, font size, kerning, line height, alignment) and colour (drop shadow, font colour, colour gradient) to make a design that has some impact. The resulting change is shown below. I think they now know that design does matter in terms of how people respond to their work: does it look like they just threw something on the page, or does it look considered?


Credits: the font is Grobold from dafont.com. My students chose the yellow colour, which I missed entirely, going for white. Inspired!


Puma’s New Super-Green Shoebox


Puma’s “Clever Little Bag” is an interesting approach to the issue of packaging and waste. Rather than having a complete box, which consumers will put into a (usually disposable) bag to carry home, the design combines a cardboard skeleton in a reusable bag made of recycled material. There is no plastic liner, nor is there any lamination on the card. The whole idea is to reduce environmental costs at each stage of the package’s life: raw materials, production, shipping and disposal. The concept is particularly interesting because it takes something that is very standardised, and seemingly minimal, and finds a new, and seemingly better, way to do things.

Internet Structure Diagram

This diagram gives an abstract, high-level overview of how the Internet is structured. The aim is to allow a teacher to introduce concepts such as TCP/IP, packet switching, LANs and firewalls, without going into too much detail. It leaves some interesting questions: Why a cloud? What’s in the cloud? Do we really need to know? At what level (education, career) is it important to know?

Download the file.