Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting to work- Communicating What We Know

What a great day today. Students were tasked with analyzing an advertisement for a lawn company that might be one that was found in an old version Yellow Pages. It is a terrible advertisement. I 'borrowed' the image from the web. The only caveat was that their analysis had to include why the advertisement did not follow many of the principles and elements of design.

Many thought this was a piece of cake. I wasn't going to let them off that easily.

The preface to the activity was about most of them had completely forgotten about the elements and principles of design. I told students that it was OK. Why they had forgotten was another issue. I hadn't given them context. Telling me that that colours "don't look good" wasn't going to cut it.

Redesigning the old ad is not really about the ad. It's about learning to communicate their learning. I wandered today asking them to tell me about why the ad 'sucked'. The difference was that they had to tell me which element or principle they were addressing. Some of them weren't too happy with hearing that I'd come back when they were prepared to talk elements and principles using the language they had learned.

Today we also started to learn Aviary's photo-shop style app called Pheonix. Students essentially 'played' to learn the program and some tried to start their advertisement redo.

Tomorrow we'll hone our skills with some online tutorials for Phoenix and students will start to create their new advertisements.

Evaluation of their advertisements will come from their own communication of learning. They will put the old and new ads side by side on a larger sheet of paper. From there they will annotate where I should observe how they used their knowledge of the elements and principles of design, what really shines about their new ad. Basically they need to defend their choices using the language we are using in the class. These products will go up around the class as reference for future ads they will be creating.

How can I add to this? Is there a peer activity we can do this week to provide deeper understanding?


  1. I like the way you tied the design project into the vocabulary/jargon for design. I have my yearbook students do a "fashion show" (one of my previous student editors named the process) to show off their spreads as they learn various techniques of design.

    The rules of the fashion show are simple: each student will show off his/her spread by identifying the various aspects of the spread using the appropriate terminology, highlighting the areas he/she is most proud of. The audience will point out two design details they like, supporting with proper terminology and design rules, and will point out one thing that could be done to improve the design.

    This process insures that students will both use the terminology and will compete with, instead of against, each other to create better designs. They are excited to help each get better.

  2. What a nicely packaged assessment.

    I like that your students directly tied changes in the ad to specific elements and principles.

    I will likely use this activity to prep for class critiques of drawings and paintings. Possibly followed with museum critique. I've been looking for ways to connect elements and principles of design to "like" and "dislike" of finished projects and art history.

  3. I think its very nicely structured. A clear use of the foundational concepts - requiring student to use the language and think like designers. I like that the rigour is coming from the discipline. Nice.